Support Comes in Many Forms: Did I Need It?

by Sarah McDade
June 10, 2019

It wasn’t support that I was seeking when I realized my son was mixed up with mind-altering drugs, including alcohol. I just wanted professionals to help him because my methods weren’t working. I found myself flailing around in the medical community unsuccessfully seeking out treatment. It was an off-the-cuff remark by a counselor many months into my search that led me to Caron Treatment Centers in Pennsylvania.

It was at Caron that I was introduced to the concept that support might be helpful to me, and I learned about Al-Anon and the Twelve Step program. The five-day Family Education Program at Caron opened my eyes to the concept that recovery from addiction could be a lifelong process for my son and for his family. I took in what Caron said and decided that someday I would go to Al-Anon. A month later, my seventeen-year-old son was in an extended-care facility at Gray Wolf Ranch in Port Townsend, Washington. His counselor would call me once a week to update me on his progress—at least, that is what I thought he was doing. Each time he called, he asked if I was going to Al-Anon, and I responded that I had been too busy. This persistent counselor asked me that same question five weeks in a row, and I finally started to get the idea that he was telling me to do something. Now I periodically share with my Al-Anon home group that I’m a slow learner!

It’s thirteen years later, and I am Miss Support Person! What happened? Three years after I started attending my favorite parent Al-Anon meeting, Caron launched a parent support group meeting in my region of Washington, D.C. It was open to the public, and parents were able to openly discuss their concerns for themselves and explore possible next steps for their children. This meeting was gently moderated by an addiction professional before parents were trained to take over the gathering. I made that two-hour drive every two weeks just to pick up a “nugget” of insight. At the same time, I was picking up nuggets at my Al-Anon meeting.

One thing led to another, and I found myself creating treatment and recovery resource lists for my fellow parents. My son’s treatment center asked me to field phone calls from prospective parents who just wanted to talk to another parent. I became adept at listening to their concerns and sharing my experiences. It didn’t take too long before these parents, who later became my friends, suggested that other parents call me. I was hearing a wide variety of stories and learning about a vast array of needs.

My resource list development prompted me to become involved in the local treatment provider networks. My lists of parent support group meetings became valuable to local addiction therapists and treatment providers. These entities started to have their families call me. My listening skills were becoming sharpened, and yet I wanted these families to have additional options for support. How far I had come from my original way of thinking about support!

So I created a resource list that included daily electronic messaging offerings from major treatment centers. Now, in addition to calling me, my new friends could receive gentle, helpful addiction knowledge on a daily basis. This resource list grew to include YouTube addiction talks, daily emails, daily texts, addiction websites, parent podcasts, blogs, apps, and more. Now, if parents couldn’t make it to a meeting, they could access a computer or smartphone and read, watch, or listen to healing messages.

Over the years, while I have been providing support to others, I’ve actually quietly soaked up a lot of nuggets from my fellow parents, even newcomers. There is no parent handbook for how to cope with the addiction of a child, so all the methods of support highlighted in this text can be very helpful in navigating recovery.

Some special day, when stigma and shame are erased from addiction, it will be obvious to families where to get help. Doctors and other professionals will become well versed in addiction. Presently, it’s almost like an underground network, and we mothers seeking support usually breathe a sigh of relief when we walk into a room and find other parents with the same issues. Until that special day arrives, support in all of its forms is very valuable.

Following are two of my resource lists. One outlines methods of receiving electronic support. The other outlines addiction support groups for families in Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C.

Sarah Scripture McDade
Fairfax, VA
Caron Parent & Family Support Groups

Texts, Blogs, Emails, Podcasts, YouTube Videos & Websites
Little Spaces for Healthy Momentary Retreats

To receive a Caron Foundation inspirational text on your phone daily, send a text to 444999 and in the body, type “Caron.” The next day, you should receive a morning text.

Example of a message: “Anxiety and worry rob me of the peace and serenity I need to be open to awareness of solutions. One day at a time calms my mind.”

Today’s Gift from the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation. Offers inspirational messages for all members of the family.

The Daily Parent Peace from Turnbridge. Example of a message: “Note to self: Days come one at a time. Stop trying to take them all at once.” To sign up, send an email to

INSPIRATIONAL AND HELPFUL BLOGS AND WEBSITES (Al-Anon messages; free app available) (app available: Readings for Moms of Addicts)

My Child Is an Addict: A Parent-to-Parent Podcast
Produced in conjunction with Caron Treatment Centers. Actual parents, real stories, and a professional adjunct. Found on podcast players on mobile phones, at the iTunes store, and on Spotify.

YouTube: Father Martin’s recovery videos and “chalk talks.”
Al-Anon electronic meetings

Caron Treatment Centers
Maryland Addiction Recovery Center
Sandy Swenson

Support Group Meetings for Parents in Virgina/Washington D.C.
Focus on addiction in the family. All open to the public.

SUNDAY – Parents AFG.
6 p.m. Downtown Baptist Church, 212 South Washington Street, Alexandria, VA. Punctuality important because of door lock at entrance. Enter at South Washington door. Alateen meeting at 5:30.

MONDAY – Caron Parent and Family Support Group.
1st & 3rd Monday of each month. 7 p.m. Floris United Methodist Church, 13600 Frying Pan Road, Room 222, Herndon, VA. Contacts: Theresa Stultz, and 703-283-4180, and Sarah McDade, and 703-217-1441.

MONDAY – Families Anonymous.
8 p.m. Little River United Church of Christ, 8410 Little River Turnpike, Annandale, VA. Enter door at far left. Caution on steps in dark seasons. Room 7 or 8.

MONDAY – Families Anonymous.
8 p.m. Christ Lutheran Church, 3810 Meredith Drive, Fairfax, VA.

MONDAY – Nar-Anon “Meaningful Mondays.”
7 p.m. Galilee United Methodist Church, 45425 Winding Road, Sterling, VA. Fellowship Hall, side entrance.

TUESDAY – Powerless Parents AFG
7:30-8:45 p.m. Ravensworth Baptist Church, 5100 Ravensworth Drive, Annandale, VA.

TUESDAY – Virginia Hospital Center Outpatient Concerned Persons Group.
7 p.m. 601 South Carlin Springs Road, Arlington, VA. Contact: Michael Bohman, 703-558-6750.

TUESDAY – Fairfax County Juvenile District Court Parent Support Group.
7 p.m. Fairfax County Courthouse, 4110 Chain Bridge Road, Room 104, Fairfax, VA. For parents and custodians of minors. 703-246-2495.

WEDNESDAY – Nar-Anon “Anchor of Hope.”
8 p.m. United Methodist Church, 7047 Old Keene Mill Road, Room 214, Springfield, VA. Enter in back.

WEDNESDAY – Turnbridge Support Group.
7-8:30 p.m. River Farm Parlor, 7931 E. Boulevard Drive, Alexandria, VA. Contact: Jon Feldman, 443-243-3446.

WEDNESDAY – Phoenix House Mid-Atlantic Concerned Persons Group.
6-7 p.m. 46 South Glebe Road, 3rd Floor, Arlington, VA.

WEDNESDAY – Tenley Recovery Community and Family Support Group.
First Wednesday of each month is open to the public. 5-6:15 p.m. 4335 Wisconsin Avenue NW, Washington, D.C. First room on the right.

THURSDAY – Caron Parent and Family Support Group.
2nd & 4th Thursday of each month. 7 p.m. Falls Church Presbyterian Church library, 225 East Broad Street, Falls Church, VA. Contact: Sarah McDade, and 703-217-1441.

THURSDAY – Nar-Anon “Serenity Thursdays.”
7 p.m. Leesburg Presbyterian Church, 207 West Market Street, Leesburg, VA. Downstairs lounge.

THURSDAY – Family Education Program.
6:30-8 p.m. Northstar Community Church, 563 Southlake Boulevard, Richmond, VA. Contact: Alison B. at and 804-216-9433.

FRIDAY – Recovering Parents AFG.
8:30 p.m. Centreville United Methodist Church, 6400 Old Centreville Road, Room 208, Centreville.

SATURDAY – Aquila Family Resilience Program.
9:30 a.m. 5100 Wisconsin Avenue NW, Suite 301, Washington, D.C. 202-244-1600.

SATURDAY – Westside Al-Anon
10:30 a.m. Westside Club, 1341 Wisconsin Avenue NW, Washington, D.C. (Georgetown) Bank of America Building. Iron staircase on left, 2nd floor.


Baltimore-area Al-Anon
Montgomery County/Washington, D.C. Al-Anon
Northern Virginia Al-Anon
Families Anonymous

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Sarah McDade

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