Someone Who’s Been There
“No matter what you do as a mom, as a grandmom, you feel like, ‘My God, what did I do wrong?'” said Arlenne, the mother of a drug addict.
She knows the pain and heartache of seeing a loved one spiral into drug addiction and not be able to escape. She has had sleepless nights. She has spent an unaccountable amount of time and money fighting the demon. She has ventured into crack houses to try to find her daughter. She knows.
That knowledge and understanding is exactly what she hopes to share with others in the area who have loved ones addicted to drugs. Arlenne and her husband Chuck have started a local chapter of Nar-Anon, a worldwide fellowship for those affected by someone else’s addiction.
Much like the more-recognizable Alcoholics Anonymous, Nar-Anon is an anonymous, first names only, group of people who have a relative or friend with an addiction problem. However, Nar-Anon is not affiliated with any other organization or outside entity.
They use a 12-step program designed to help relatives and friends of addicts recover from the effects of living with an addicted relative or friend. They offer help by sharing experience, strength, and hope.
Arlenne said she went to her first meeting expecting to find a step-by-step how-to guide on how to save her daughter from addiction. She left that first meeting angry that it didn’t offer that magic elixir.
“I was skeptical of it,” admits Arlenne.
Eventually she returned to the group and found great solace in the camaraderie. Being with a group who truly understands was a soothing balm. “It makes you feel better, it really does,” she says. “It has helped us tremendously.”
Arlenne and Chuck have six children and only one has gone down the path of drug addiction. However, that path has been a long, hard journey. She lived on the street for 10 years, prostituting to support her $300 per day crack habit.
They have tried various ways to help her kick her addiction. She has been in 13 different rehabilitation programs and in jail a couple times. Most of their actions, they found, were enabling her, not helping her.
In the process, the insidious addiction tightens its grip on all aspects of the family.
“It affects the whole family,” said Arlenne. “It just becomes a nightmare.
“You get so involved with their problems that you get sick yourself. I, literally, was going crazy,” shares Arlenne who had seen various counselors to find emotional relief for herself. “If it hadn’t been for Nar-Anon I would be in a nut house somewhere.”
The program has helped them so much that the couple who moved back to their roots in Wetzel County from Lancaster, Pa., two years ago wants to share Nar-Anon with others.
“No town is safe,” said Arlenne. “It makes no difference how much money you make, who you are, what you are.”
There are no fees associated with Nar-Anon. There is no registration. “Just show up,” said Arlenne. Meetings are held every Monday evening, 7 p.m., at the New Martinsville United Methodist Church. Anyone with a loved one with an addiction problem is welcome to show up and participate or even just silently watch the meeting.
For more information call Chuck and Arlene at 455-4095. If there is no answer, just leave a message with your first name and phone number. They’d rather not even know your last name, so as to keep it anonymous. More information can also be found at www.nar-anon.org.
“We’re hoping to have a mighty, great Nar-Anon family in West Virginia,” said Arlenne.
Just before the next Nar-Anon meeting, the Citizens Against Prescription Drug Abuse will meet Feb. 8, 6 p.m., at the New Martinsville City Building. Organizers of that group expect to change their regular meeting time, lately the second Monday of the month, so it will not conflict with the new Nar-Anon meetings.