Community Support Group to Provide Help to Families Dealing With Substance Abuse
By Joe Bachman
‘You are not alone’
A strong message from a new community support group for friends and families of those dealing with substance abuse.
F.A.C.T. (Families/Friends of Addiction Coming Together) plans to provide help and resources to those who have loved ones struggling with substance abuse. Members of the group include those on the Wood County Drug Task Force, though the focus isn’t on the legal consequences of drug abuse.
The first step, according to Pam Kuhn, is understanding.
“On a personal level, I have a nephew is addicted to this, and I can be there as much as I can for my sister, and try to give her advice, but she always comes back with ‘you don’t understand'”, said Kuhn. “She’s right — so I said to myself that I wish there was a support group for you to talk to other parents who do understand.”
Anybody that is affected by substance abuse on any level is welcomed to join the group’s activities.
“We all react to it differently,” said member Lori Helmuth. “It’s a really uncomfortable thing that needs to be brought to the limelight.”
“I think there’s a lot of shame and stereotypes that are there, and people have a hard time coming forward to be with other people that understand what they’ve been through,” said member Kristi Kleinbeck. “I think we’ll have individuals coming to a meeting that bring the reality that they have a family member with an addiction that makes it real for them, which can be a challenge.”
The most valuable and important takeaway for this group is to provide a safe space for those affected by drug abuse.
“The intention is for people to have a safe place where they can share, and not feel alone and to connect one another.” said Helmuth. “Nobody understands better than someone else living through it. — In many cases the families don’t find out that drug use is happening for years.”
According to the Center for Disease Control, in 2015, heroin related deaths alone surpassed gun related deaths. A number that has grown since, especially in areas of Wisconsin. According to a Wisconsin Department of Health report, the amount of drug related deaths have nearly doubled over the past seven years.
“We’re not following a specific curriculum, but it’s more of an open format,” said Kleinbeck. “It gives the group the opportunity to shape what they want it to be — from having discussions, presentations, and speakers.”
Meetings will take place every third Tuesday of the month, with the next meeting scheduled for Jan. 17, from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at Aspirus Riverview Hospital Conference Room A.