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New group supports family members coping with a loved one’s addiction


Being the parent or adult sibling of a family member with a substance use disorder can be debilitating, lonely and often frightening, said Helen McNutt, who speaks not only from personal experience but also as an organizer of a Parent Partnership Group in Doylestown.

The anonymous, volunteer-driven groups focus on the needs of adult family members struggling to cope with a loved one’s addiction. The PPG offers a safe place to share stories and find guidance and much-needed support as one navigates the difficult path, McNutt said.

“We have people with a teen as young as 14, to an adult child as old as 50…We’re so busy trying to save our kids we don’t know we are slowly killing ourselves. We have to change that,” said McNutt, whose husband and child were challenged with substance use disorders.

At a PPG meeting, family members “talk about it, hear others’ experiences and rid ourselves of anxiety,” McNutt said. “We learn to set boundaries.” The change, she said, “is beautiful.”

McNutt, who has studied addiction for many years, stresses that substance use disorder is a disease, and as such, “it can reoccur at any time. You must go into it knowing that.”

As an illness, McNutt explained, the person “will protect the disease above all else. It’s not because they don’t love you.” And, she added, “Sobriety takes time. Do not rush it.”

Doylestown’s Parent Partnership Group meets at Doylestown Health’s Ambulatory Center every Wednesday at 7 p.m. “You just show up,” said McNutt.

On Nov. 29, the group is hosting Dr. Chad Coren, a highly regarded expert in the field of substance use disorders and assistance to families.

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