A support group for parents to address the scourge of addiction

    by Lisa DeAngelis

    Families, educators, students, treatment professionals, clergy, and members of law enforcement and the business community came together in 2011 to form Be a Part of the Conversation, an organization whose mission was to raise awareness about the effects of alcohol and other drug use.

    Today, Parent Partnership Group (PPG) is a branch of the original organization whose mission is to engage parents, families, and caregivers of those impacted by addiction through a network of support groups led by compassionate volunteers with lived experience. Weekly meetings provide access to expert resources and help navigate a healthier path forward for families. 

    When a child is struggling with substance abuse, parents often feel bombarded with conflicting emotions, confusion, anger, fear, all mixed together with love and worry. Often their inclination is to internalize their feelings and isolate. At the same time, they may be dealing with arrests, injuries, emotional outbursts, threats, theft, violence, repeated lies, overdoses, relapses, and a host of other complications. But there is help available whether your child is 14 or 40. 

    PPG has been working collaboratively since 2006 with treatment providers and has organized a variety of meetings to support parents in dealing with this disease that is often so counter-intuitive. Meetings are free and are now being held at Doylestown Hospital in their conference room in the Ambulatory Center on Wednesday evenings from 7:00 to 8:30. Once a month, there will be a speaker who will share with families their journey through addiction.

    PPG also offers a series of manuals to support parents in between meetings.

    These manuals correspond to the three progressive phases parents are known to go through:

    • Phase 1 Crisis: Standing in the Storm – A Resource Guide for Parents of Addicted Children;
    • Phase 2 Transition: Two Roads – Choosing between Chaos and Recovery;
    • Phase 3 Recovery: On the Road – Topics for Parents in Transition.

    These manuals are a collection of what parents have learned from each other over the last decade and include stories from the perspectives of not only parents, but also addicts, therapists, and leaders from national treatment facilities.

    The PPG website offers additional resources. There are buttons for Finding an In-Person Meeting, Recommended Reading, Helpful Handouts, Program Calendar, Meeting Materials, Daily Inspiration, Grieving and Loss, as well as access to their blog and podcasts.

    Attending a meeting can be helpful in other ways. It can assist parents in the initial stages to find an answer about whether their loved one’s drinking or drug use is just typical experimentation or something they need to address.

    Meetings can help you connect with others who have gone through what you are going through now. They can help you become informed, empowered, and able to locate resources. Most of all, they can help you continue the “Conversation” after attending Be a Part of the Conversation events. 

    One person who attended a recent meeting said, “Every meeting I walk away with at least one tidbit to help me act or react differently in a more helpful manner to myself or the addict, and I also feel better. I leave feeling less alone and more capable of handling what the next week has in store for our family.”

    Another said, “This has been our sanity. The parents in these groups are understanding and full of experience. We got more helpful advice from this group than anywhere else.”

    “I think the important thing,” says Helen McNutt, a volunteer who directs the meetings, “is for people to know there are others who have and are experiencing the same thing they are going through. This group has helped so many, me and my husband included.”

    Parent Partnership Group’s invitation reads, “Come once, once in a while, or as often as you like.”

    For more info visit or call 267-629-2214. 

    PHOTO CAP: Helen McNutt (center) with support group speakers Patrick Dowling (right) and Michael Blanche (left).

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