Substance abuse series provides resources for families, builds community
By Mary Morrell | Correspondent
The adage “it takes a village” is an apt one when speaking of what is needed to journey with a loved one through a substance use disorder, said Karen Kupfer, co-founder of A Comfort Zone, a support group from northern Monmouth County for families whose children or adult members are struggling with the disease of addiction.
In order to provide information and resources on the current epidemic of drug addiction, A Comfort Zone has scheduled three support and information sessions to be hosted by St. William the Abbot Parish, Howell. Parishioner Virginia Untisz, a member of A Comfort Zone, expressed appreciation to Father Thomas Maher, pastor, for making the series possible by providing the venue.
The first session, which focused on hope, strength and information, was held Nov. 9 in the parish hall and featured guest speaker Ed Brazell, founder of The Silent Epidemic, a nonprofit that helps people find needed support services nationwide and funds some expenses such as move-in fees for sober living, flights to rehabs or doctor visits in New Jersey.
Also speaking was Maureen McLoughlin, certified social worker and founder of Families Against Addiction, a nonprofit organization created to remove the stigma of addiction, and Christian Nigro, McLoughlin’s son, who shared his recovery journey and his work in a drug treatment center while earning his certificate in alcohol and drug counseling.
In her welcome remarks, Kupfer explained that substance use disorder is a term that reflects the reality of drug addiction, often accompanied by mental health issues, as a disease rather than a moral failing. There should be “no blame, no judgement, no shame,” said Kupfer, who stressed that journeying with a loved one through a substance use disorder cannot be done alone or in isolation.
Her thoughts were confirmed by both speakers who shared their own struggles as they accompanied one of their children through addiction into recovery – a process that took many years, repeated attempts at detox and rehab, and some very difficult decisions requiring change for both the adult child and the family members.
Most importantly, said Brazell, “What we can’t do alone, we can do together” – referring to communities of support and education.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that this disease as an epidemic, with nearly half a million people dying from drug overdoses from 2000 to 2014. Since 1999, the amount of prescription opioids sold in the United States has nearly quadrupled, as have the number of deaths from prescription opioids like oxycodone, hydrocodone and methadone.
The CDC notes that from 2000 to 2014, nearly half a million people died from drug overdoses, and with four out of five new heroin users having begun with opioids, it’s no surprise that heroin overdoses have quadrupled in that time period, as well.
“Right now, someone out there has a needle in their arm. What are we doing for them?” asked Brazell.
Part of Brazell’s outreach includes the development of a national search tool for those affected by substance use disorder. Currently, the tool includes more than 200,000 listings including meeting sites, rehabs, detox centers, doctors, sober houses, funding sources, and state and county support numbers.
The next information session will be held Nov. 30, with two guest speakers who are licensed alcohol and drug counselors as well as social workers – Diane Bleimann, a board certified psychiatric nurse and member of A Comfort Zone, and Dr. Michael Bizzaro. Both speakers will address mental health and addiction. Carolyn Krug, daughter of Rachelle Krug, A Comfort Zone member, will speak about her personal journey to long-term recovery.
The last session will be held Dec. 14. Speakers include Jenna Reidy, a recovery specialist with Barnabas Health Institute for Prevention, Toms River; David Dolan, a clinical therapist and drug counselor who will speak about mindfulness and self-care for families, and Erik Berésnoy, who is in long-term recovery and working with YPR: Young People in Recovery. YPR is a national grassroots organization focused on peer-to-peer service and improving access to treatment, educational resources, employment opportunities and housing that sustains young people in their recovery.
St. William the Abbot Church is located at 2740 Lakewood Allenwood Road, Howell. All information sessions run from 7 to 9 p.m., and light refreshments will be served.
A Comfort Zone welcomes new members. For information, email [email protected].[[In-content Ad]]