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Parents Forever helps family members with substance abuse

Parents Forever meets every second Friday in St. Mary's Kerrisdale church
Parents Forever meets every second Friday in St. Mary’s Kerrisdale church.

Reported by Cheryl Whiting

Parents of loved ones with addiction problems need to reach out for support sooner.

Frances Kenny is the founder of Parents Forever, a support group for family members of loved ones dealing with substance abuse issues and wonders whether the stigma of addiction stops parents from coming sooner.

The group meets at St. Mary’s Kerrisdale church every second Friday evening.

“[Maybe] they don’t want to be considered a family that had these issues,” Kenny said. “Many parents come in and they have been dealing with it for six years and haven’t told anybody.”

Children face substance abuse as well

Kenny started the group back in 2000, when one of her children was facing these issues and the previous group she attended, Parents Together, only focused on teenagers.

Samantha, who did not provide her surname, said she did not want to have her 25-year-old son identified. She joined the support group to help cope with her son going through an addiction to OxyContin.

“We tried everything and then someone told us about this group,” she said, “Being here with other parents, you feel stronger. It’s not so painful and you learn how to make better decisions, make better boundaries.”

Communication is key between parents and children

Mary Anne Crabtree is a family counsellor who offers professional support to the group.

Mary Anne Crabtree, family counsellor. Photo: Cheryl Whiting
Mary Anne Crabtree, family counsellor. Photo: Cheryl Whiting

Crabtree said that commonly parents want to try to control their kid’s behavior and discover they can’t.

“A big piece we talk about is making the relationship better, so working on communication,” she said. “We recognize that maybe we can’t control it [the behavior] but if we have a better relationship we might have an influence.”

Kenny stressed it is important for the family to get help immediately and not wait to set better boundaries or get burnt out trying to get their loved ones help.

“If that parent does that [gets help right away] they are so much further ahead,” Kenny said.


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