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Opioid Awareness

Connecting Families in the Fight Against Opioids

Photo: Courtesy of Ben Maguire

Opioid addictions are on the rise, as is the number of families impacted by the hardship the epidemic inflicts. But for families facing the issue head on, there are some powerful resources available.

Forging connection

Denise Young Farrell, Vice President at the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids discusses the importance of building these bridges. For Farrell, “connecting families who get affected or have experience with addiction, so that they can be empowered by that shared experience” is crucial. One of the priorities of the organization is encouraging and making those connections for others.

Susan Knade was introduced to the new approach encouraged by the organization, referred to as Community Reinforcement and Family Training (CRAFT). For Knade, who has had two family members struggle with addiction, talking to other parents who understood her situation meant not only relief, but empowerment.   

“The disease of addiction affects the entire family and it also carries shame and stigma,” she reflects. “Many parents are afraid to reach out for fear of being judged.” But after working with other parents, Knade also recognized that there wasn’t a “one size fits all approach,” and strengthened her relationship with her daughter through open communication.

“Being a parent coach has enriched my life more than I could have ever imagined,” she adds. “Walking this dark path with another parent somehow makes it seem more manageable.”

Seeing your child

Another parent coach, Denise Mariano describes her experience with the opioid crisis as a chorus that “mirrors millions of others.” That chorus, she says, refers to the pain, fear and hopelessness when a child is suffering from addiction.

But after seeking support from other parents and families, Mariano describes the experience as unique, in that they were now supported and respected — not blamed. Mariano knew that tough love was not the solution for her child, and found support from others who were connected to the Partnership. Together, Mariano says, “We can help lift up our children, stay engaged and utilize tools and strategies that bring forth positive behaviors, positive change and positive outcomes.”

As Knade says, “There is hope and sometimes it’s the caring voice of another parent over the telephone that can start the healing process.”

Zoe Alexander, [email protected]

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