Support Group in Watertown for Family & Friends of People Misusing Drugs & Alcohol

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The following information was provided by the local organizers of SMART Recovery:

When a person uses drugs or alcohol to excess, the entire family is affected. Concern, anxiety, worry, and depression are just a few of the emotions that family and loved ones experience. For decades people turned to Alcoholics or Narcotics Anonymous and its family-focused support group Al-Anon. But AA isn’t for everyone.

SMART Recovery (Self-Management Addiction Recovery Training) started more than 30 years ago. It is a science-based secular alternative to AA and Al-Anon. Tailored to people struggling with substance use, it teaches new ways to self- manage addictive behavior. Since 1990, its popularity has grown, and there are now more than 3,000 free mutual-aid meetings globally.

Seven years ago, a Family & Friends program was added to meet the needs of loved ones affected by the behavior of a loved one’s use of alcohol or drugs. Meetings take place worldwide, and one recently began in Watertown. It is held on Tuesday evenings, from 7-8:30 p.m. in the Community Room of the Police Department at 552 Main Street, Watertown, MA.

Ellen Kolton, a local resident and member of the Watertown Task Force for Substance Use Disorder, facilitates the Watertown Family & Friends meeting. A professional patient advocate, she completed SMART Recovery’s required training course. For more information, she can be reached at

The Family & Friends Program is based on the CRAFT (Community Reinforcement And Family Training) method that teaches family and friends skills to help their addicted loved one find recovery. The Family and Friends program has two major components: mutual support for family and friends of people suffering from addictions, who are suffering in their own right; and implementation of the CRAFT Program, which emphasizes positive reinforcement and loving concern rather than confrontation and conflict. The program is aimed at getting loved ones – spouses, partners, parents, children, siblings — to initiate and actively engage in treatment. No distinction is made among addictions; so loved ones of people with any sort of addiction are invited to attend.

In addition to the Watertown Friends & Family meeting, a well-attended meeting has been functioning at McLean Hospital in Belmont since 2011. It is held on Saturday afternoons from 4:40-6 p.m., with a meeting for people in recovery in a room next door. For a full list of meetings check the SMART Recovery website:

SMART Recovery now supports 3,000 free weekly meetings globally and is endorsed as Evidence-Based by NIDA, NIAAA, SAMHSA, ONDCP, the Federal Prison System and is available in 23 countries. The SMART Recovery Handbook is published in 14 languages.

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