New support group for those struggling with addiction

Aisling Centre

Bridie Sweeney and Neil Hagan from Partners of People with Addiction group based at the Aisling Centre, Enniskillen

THOSE in Fermanagh who are living with a loved one who has an addiction now have a shoulder to lean on in the form of a specialist support group.

The group which helps deal with the impact of addiction on close family and partners meets twice a month in the Aisling Centre in Enniskillen.


Central co-ordinator for the group Bridie Sweeney explained that the group started a year ago and was borne out of feedback from the counselling team.

“We have a team of 14 counsellors here and the group has come from the feedback we have got from them. We don’t work with the addiction itself, because there is a very good addiction team in the trust so obviously as a charity we don’t duplicate what’s happening, but we were finding a lot of people were coming here who had friends and family struggling with addiction and they were trying to support them and the impact that was having on their lives. So it’s not just for partners, it’s for anybody who lives with a loved one or has lived with a loved one.”

Clinical co-ordinator Neily Hagan explained how often those dealing with a loved one’s addiction often try to take on the burden themselves.

“It’s a thing called co-dependency. It is when there is an addiction in the house they try to control that behaviour and in doing that they become really as sick as the person with the addiction. The form it takes is they  try to minimise the damage , they try to anticipate the needs of the person and what happens is the person remains addicted to alcohol or whatever and the relatives become addicted to the person.

“They’re watching their every move, what’s going on and they lose sense of themselves. So they may have a family and what happens is they have become so obsessed, say with dad’s drinking they lose sense of the children and then that whole process of shame sets in and then they end up going to the doctor, and it’s all as a result of their relationship with the addict.”

He continued: “Our work is often supporting the person enabling them to see they can’t change somebody’s behaviour, we can’t do that, but what we can do is change ourselves in relation to that behaviour and the whole process is about letting go. That doesn’t mean not caring for the person, it’s actually knowing you care about a person, but you can’t care for them.”

The fortnightly meeting brings together like-minded people to share their views and opinions to gain insight into living with addiction.


“The group is not about the addictive person, it is about space for the family members and the friends, it is about them taking back their own lives and their own power, explained Bridie. “The group is not therapy, this is a support group and as well as the education work and the support  it is also about a little bit of fun.

The group meets fortnightly. For more information you can contact the Aisling Centre on 02866325811.

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