Families Anonymous chapter offers help with substance abuse

By Jennifer Eisenbart


As Ed Scaro explains, substance abuse and addiction is the “unspoken topic” in any family.

Scaro knows, as he and his wife, Christine, dealt with an addiction in their own family. Now, he has helped develop a Families Anonymous chapter in Elkhorn that is open to anyone in the area.

Families Anonymous celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2021. The group was formed in 1971 by concerned parents in California who were trying to deal with substance abuse and addiction with their children. The Elkhorn chapter opened in 2010, but basically closed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Members include parents, grandparents, siblings, spouses, significant others and friends of those struggling with addiction. As FA explains on its FAQ, “addiction is a family illness that impacts the lives of every member of the family.”

FA takes the approach that families and friends need help as much as those dealing with substance abuse. The program uses a 12-step recovery model similar to that of Alcoholics Anonymous.

“This is not focused so much on the one who has the addiction problem, but it’s on the individual that’s dealing with the person they’re concerned about, the person they want to help,” Scaro explained.

The Elkhorn chapter of FA is open to anyone who can attend, whether in Walworth County or not. As Scaro said, some people want or need to attend a group where they can remain anonymous.

In fact, Scaro shared that families need the opportunity to discuss issues together.

“I finally began to understand how I could truly support the person that I love going through a disease that, unfortunately, is not understood by most of our society,” he explained. “This disease is the ‘unspoken topic’ in family discussions. Yet, I believe it is no different than being diagnosed with diabetes.”

Scaro said he, his wife and his son have shared their story publicly and groups like FA give families and friends a chance to learn how to help the person suffering from an addiction.

Given that one in 12 people deal with substance abuse and addiction, the importance of a group like FA becomes clear.

“We reached out to have an intervention counselor come and help our family get our son treatment,” Scaro explained. “During that process, the counselor asked me, ‘Ed, so what are you going to do about your son’s addiction problem?’ I responded with the following: ‘My son has the problem and I do not!’ The counselor responded, ‘Ed, if you don’t work on understanding how you feel and what you are experiencing, you will never be able to help the ones you love.’

“That is when we made the decision to get some help,” Scaro added. “For myself and my family. I wasted over three years of my life trying to fix something I had no idea how to appropriately address.”

Families Anonymous meets at St. John’s Church, 104 S. Broad St., Elkhorn, Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m. For more information, contact Scaro at 414-573-4280 or Maureen at 262-723-8227, or email elkhornfa@gmail.com.


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