How a support group helps parents of addicts

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Once a week the New Life Bible Fellowship Church on the northwest side becomes a place where parents can feel like they're not alone.

“It's my daughter who was addicted to meth,” said Lavae Goodin. “And it helps me set boundaries, and it helps me cope day to day, so I don't feel like I’m going crazy.”

“You know originally I thought, I was telling my daughter not too long ago, I remember when she went to her first treatment and thinking, ‘this is awesome. They're going to get her fixed, and we'll have a happy family,’” said Penny Allen.

Recovery is not always that easy.

That’s why every Tuesday the church on Cortaro Farms Road becomes a meeting place for Parents of Addicted Loved Ones. The support group started in Arizona and has spread across the country.

KGUN9 recently sat down to talk with four parents who attend PAL meetings. While only one of the parents we met knows the pain of opioid addiction, organizers of a local meeting say about 95% of parents show up because of opioid addiction.

“Right now it's heroin, and that's been the most prevalent one they see,” said volunteer Judy Shorrock. “Without a doubt.”

The gatherings are confidential and an opportunity for parents to help other parents. You can share personal experiences, but the Shorrock's say there is an educational component which helped them tremendously with their daughter who was addicted to meth.

Sometimes you just have to listen, they say.

"There's so many parents out there that are like on deck you know?" said Rick. "To use a baseball term, they're on deck. They're not in the game yet as far as our group is concerned, but there are so many out there that are just waiting to find someplace like this."

“We have changed the role that we are as a family,” said Judy. “We're no longer controlling. We're no longer policing and doing everything for our loved one. We are encouraging, and we are, being like Rick said, being good listeners. And letting her ask us for help.”

PAL is a Christian run non-profit that was founded in 2006 by inpatient substance abuse counselor Mike Speakman. People of all faiths are welcome to meetings, organizers say.

The Shorrock's started attending PAL meetings years ago in the Phoenix area. It was so helpful for them that they started a local meeting in Tucson. 

Penny Allen has been attending pal meetings on and off for more than five years. Two of her daughters struggle with addiction -- including with meth and heroin.

“You know from the very first meeting with PAL and just hearing that you know, ‘your child is an adult. How about if you looked at it his way?’” Allen said.

Allen says nothing they do in PAL is set in stone, but they talk about ways you learn to look at things differently.

“It's a process,” Allen said. “It's not natural. It's not normal to parent an addict and people from the outside form the opinion about what you should do, and they've never dealt with it either.”

If you are interested in attending a meeting, click here for more information.


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