Struggling to cope with her sons heroin addiction, Tammy Lutz turned to the Internet for help. She found Circle of Support, a faith-based support group in Union County for people affected by sub-stance abuse.
“I found comfort and true friendship. I found trust, said Lutz, a West Jefferson resident, who has attended Circle of Support meetings in Marysville for the past year.The biggest thing Ive gotten from this group is that Im not alone. Im not the only one dealing with this.
Lutz and other members of Circle of Support attended a drug abuse forum in London in August. The Madison County Substance Abuse Coalition, founded last summer, hosted the forum.
Because substance abuse, especially among teens and young adults, is also a growing problem in Madison County, Lutz volunteered to lead a new Circle of Support group under the Madison County Substance Abuse Coalition umbrella. The first meeting is Oct. 17. Meetings will be held from 7 to 8 p.m. the third Monday of every month at Trinity Episcopal Church, located at the corner of Main and Fourth streets in London.
“Its open to anyone suffering from alcohol or drug abuse, whether they are recovering addicts or the friends and family of addicts, Lutz said.
Organizers of the Union County group are helping Lutz to get started. The topic of the first meeting isTrust and the Value of a Support Group. Kim Heminger, a Circle of Support founder, said participants can rest assured that anything they share in the group will remain confidential. Participants use first names only.
“This is a group who understands and has compassion for you because theyve been there, Heminger said.Were there to help you cope and hopefully find the tools and resources you need.
Each meeting will have a different topic for discussion. Examples include self esteem, forgiveness, enabling behaviors, relaxation and care for oneself, and whether substance addiction is a disease or a choice.
Circle of Support History
Heminger and two other mothers of young adults battling addiction met in 2009 at a town hall meeting in Marysville about the proliferation of drug abuse, specifically heroin and opiates, in Union County.
“We exchanged phone numbers. From there, we started investigating how to start a (support) group, Heminger said.
The first Union County Circle of Support meeting was held in June 2009. Through word of mouth and newspaper stories, membership has grown. The group now meets every week.
Initially, members of Circle of Support were parents of children with addictions and those whose loved ones had died as a result of substance abuse. The group has since opened up to young recovering addicts who share their stories and offer hope for other addicts and their families.
“Seeing it from both sides has taught me a lot, Lutz said.
In addition to regular meetings, the Union County group participates in several outreach projects. One of their main missions is sending letters of encouragement to young adults who are in prison on drug-related charges. Also, several Circle of Support parents, family members and young adults in recovery shared their stories on a drug prevention video thats been shown to all seventh- and eighth-graders in Union County and at community meetings.
In addition to the new Madison County group, Heminger said she hopes to see a Circle of Support group started in Champaign County and another one established for inmates at the Tri County Regional Jail in Mechanicsburg.
For more information about the support group, go to circleofsupportoh.weebly.com or call Madison Countys information and referral line at (740) 845-1475.
Substance abuse in Madison County
In April 2011, the Madison County Substance Abuse Coalition, in cooperation with the superintendents of all Madison County public schools, surveyed eighth- 11th-grade students about their behaviors when it comes to drug and alcohol use. The following are some of the results from the 11th-grade portion of that survey.
• Fifty-eight percent of the 11th-graders surveyed report having used drugs or alcohol.
• Twenty-nine percent have used other peoples prescription drugs; 11 percent use them on a regular basis.
• Of the 63 percent who have used alcohol, 20 percent started in middle school and 5 percent started in elementary school.
• Forty-one percent think there is a low to moderate harmfulness in taking other peoples prescription drugs.
• Four percent have used heroin. (Nationally, 1.2 percent of high school seniors have used heroin.)
• Twenty-three percent believe heroin is very easy or somewhat easy to obtain.
Also in Madison County, Childrens Services received 119 referrals from August 2010 to April 2011 for issues related to substance abuse.
The Mental Health Recovery Board reports that, in Madison County, diagnoses for opiate dependence and treatment for people of all ages increased 187 percent from 2007 to 2010. The number of such diagnoses in the first six months of 2011 exceeded the number of diagnoses in all of 2010. (These numbers only represent individuals who sought treatment through the Recovery Board.)
The Madison County Substance Abuse Coalition was formed last summer. To become a part of the coalition, call Saundra LaPrise at (740) 852-0339 or Twyla McNamara at (614) 309-9265.