Compassion and guidance
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Families Anonymous Website

Compassion and guidance

Story By: LIZ FINNEGAN
9/10/2015


ISLIP TOWN—Since its founding in 1971, the organization Families Anonymous has provided a shoulder for troubled families to lean on as they journey through some of the most difficult times in their lives. And now with the increasing incidence of drug and alcohol abuse, it seems their help is needed more than ever.

FA is modeled on the 12-step recovery program of Alcoholics Anonymous. The principle is based on the reality that when one person in the family is drinking heavily or abusing drugs, that behavior will affect the other family members as well. FA members, who are currently going through or have gone through the same experiences, provide each other with the support and understanding that might just help them to find a way to cope with that situation or find their way out of it.

Diane G. of West Islip, a 36-year member of FA, said the organization has become an important part of her life.

“I was going through issues with my children and in my marriage,” she said. “I knew something was wrong with the kids, but didn’t know what it was.”

Diane said she began receiving notices from school that her teenagers were missing class and their grades were plummeting. They also began staying out late and were evasive when asked what was going on. “They wouldn’t listen to me, and I had to work,” she said.

One day, she found drugs in the house. “I couldn’t believe it,” she said. “I wanted someone to fix it.”

She said after attending her first FA meeting, “I felt like I was not alone,” and she got the courage to make changes in her life. Her kids were told to leave the house if they could not abide by her rules, and eventually, she told her verbally abusive husband to do the same. “I go to the meetings to get strength,” she noted. “Before that, I had no boundaries, but I got them through FA.”

Donna D., a single mother from Sayville, was going through a similar experience when she got involved with the group 20 years ago. At the time, her daughter, then 18, was involved with drugs and alcohol.

“I had to let her have consequences. That’s what we learned at the meetings,” she said. “My addiction was to my family by not letting them experience those consequences. I was enabling.” 

She said her daughter is now on a good path, and she is grateful for FA for helping to guide her through it all. She hopes more families will consider joining.

“Parents are hesitant [to join] because there is guilt and shame. But drugs and alcohol can happen in any family,” Donna added. “We are not alone.”

“I can’t say enough about this program,” added Diane. “If it wasn’t for [FA] and the support I got from them, I don’t know where I’d be today.”

FA holds meetings locally in Sayville at the New Life Community Church, 380 Lakeland Avenue on Saturday at 10 a.m. The meeting is held in the chapel of the church by the south parking lot entrance. Call Gene at 981-2419 for more information or email FA2ndchance@gmail.com. There is also a meeting on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at St. Lawrence the Martyr Church, Room 203, 200 West Main Street. Ring the bell at the door closest to Main Street if the doors are locked. Call Catherine at 576-9731 or email FASAyvilleWed@gmail.com.