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CONTRIBUTED CONTENT — Addiction is commonly referred to as a family illness because the mental, physical and social repercussions of drug and alcohol abuse extend to the whole family. From the closest to the most distant relative, no one is immune to the reach of addiction.
A leader in addiction and mental health treatment services in Southern Utah, Hope Rising Detox & Rehabilitation offers many resources to help addicts help themselves. While family members are encouraged to be part of their recovery journey, Hope Rising has also created a free weekly family support group as a safe space for those loved ones to focus on themselves.
The group is led by volunteers Dawn Hendrickson and Cyndi Schmidt, who have nearly 20 years of combined experience with family support groups. Both are mothers of someone struggling with addiction and understand the unique challenges their loved ones go through.
“There are so many family members who don’t know where to go,” Hendrickson said. “But you are not alone.”
As group leaders, Hope Rising offers Hendrickson and Schmidt the freedom to simply be there for whoever is struggling, and they are willing to meet each person wherever they are. If someone just needs to cry and vent, the group will listen. Some people need help setting boundaries with an addicted family member, while others feel guilty and seek reassurance after setting those boundaries.
Group members share experiences, learn stories from each other, uplift and empower each other. But more importantly, the group teaches people about self-care and how to begin the healing process amid the chaos of addiction.
“We need to fix ourselves while our addict is fixing himself,” Hendrickson said.
Hendrickson is currently raising his 9-year-old grandson due to his parents’ substance abuse issues. Through the support group, she met three other groups of grandparents in similar circumstances.
“It helped me a lot to know that I’m not the only one,” she said. “The band helps you connect with people who walk in your shoes.”
When Schmidt first went to a family support group 10 years ago, she was broken. Her daughter was struggling with an addiction and she didn’t understand how to navigate a disrupted world. She credits this group with saving her life, and these experiences have fueled her passion to help others in the community facing similar challenges.
“I’m very attached to family support because I know how important it was to me,” she said. “We are as affected by addiction as the addict, but I feel that the family is forgotten. I am here to tell them that they are not forgotten.
The support group welcomes people with loved ones at any stage of their addiction and recovery journey – whether they are in crisis, enrolled in treatment, relapsed or on the road to sobriety. Some members continue to participate even though their loved one has been in recovery for a few years, as they continue to find value in the support system offered by the group.
Being a parent, spouse, sibling or child of an addict comes with stigma, guilt and shame. Schmidt said it’s impossible for anyone to truly understand what these family members are going through unless they’ve walked this road themselves with someone they love, and that’s why resources like the support group are so essential.
“I know there are parents who feel alone, embarrassed, ashamed and don’t realize that there are resources that can help them,” she added. “That’s why I volunteer and do what I do.”
The Hope Rising Family Support Group is free and open to the public. Anyone with a loved one struggling with drug addiction can attend. Group sessions take place every Wednesday from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Even when it seems like all hope is lost, it’s not too late to step out of the darkness of addiction and into the light of recovery. Breaking the chains of drug and alcohol abuse and finding purpose is possible with the help of the compassionate staff at Hope Rising.
Life after addiction begins at Hope Rising. If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, call 435-632-3335 or visit HopeRisingRecovery.com.
Written by ALEXA MORGAN for St. George News.
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