Program teaches families of addicts about disease, recovery

    Drug addiction can take a toll on more than the addict. One local program helps families deal with addiction, giving them the tools they need to start the recovery process.

    The Pennsylvania Recovery Organization’s Achieving Community Together Family Education Addiction Program helps families recognize and address addiction in their loved ones.

    Representatives said the program offers more than just therapy. Volunteers actually teach families about addiction and guide them towards resources that can help them.

    Noni West, coordinator of the five-county program, said people need to understand addiction is a family issue and not just about the individual.

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    “It requires support, just as it does with any other disease or illness, just as it does with cancer,” she said. “The family wraps their arms around a member that has cancer, and the family needs to wrap their arms around the person who has an addiction.”

    Families are encouraged to attend all segments of the three-part program, which runs one evening a week for three consecutive weeks. The sessions last about two hours.

    Sandra Lockhart, one of the 25 volunteers who lead classes, said families need a place to talk, but they also need education. That’s something she said other programs don’t focus on.

    “We actually teach them about the disease of addiction. We teach them about enabling,” she said. “I think there’s much more give and take in our program as opposed to just lecturing. The folks get to tell us their stories and we really end up having a personal relationship with them.”

    Lockhart said, on average, a family can wait seven years before they address an addiction issue, often because of denial or shame.

    Her husband, Ron Lockhart, also works as a class instructor. He said sometimes families get in the way of the recovery without realizing they are hindering progress, which is why programs like this are so helpful.

    “Enabling is the biggest thing that the family has to overcome. If they do not, then they stand between all the painful results of decisions that addicts make,” he said. “They absorb that as opposed to making their adult responsible for their own decision making.”

    All sessions are free and only first names are asked.


    The programs are offered at six locations across five counties:

    Bucks County/Central — Begins first Thursday of each month. Program meets 7  to 9 p.m. at North Penn Community Health Foundation, 2506 Broad St., Colmar, Pa.

    Bucks County/South — Begins first Thursday of each month. Program meets 7  to 9 p.m. at Southern Bucks Recovery Community Center in the Bristol Office Center, 1286 Veterans Highway, Bristol, Pa.

    Chester County — Begins first Wednesday of each month. Program meets 7 to 9 p.m. in Room 336 of the Government Services Building, 601 Westtown Road, West Chester, Pa.

    Delaware County — Begins first Tuesday of each month. Program meets 7  to 9 p.m. at Holcomb Behavioral Health Services, 126 East Baltimore Pike, Media, Pa.

    Montgomery County — Begins first Wednesday of each month. Program meets 6  to 8 p.m. at Creative Health, 11 Robinson St., Pottstown, Pa.

    Philadelphia — Begins first Thursday of each month. Program meets 6:30  to 8:30 p.m. at the Philadelphia PRO-ACT office, 444 N. Third St., Philadelphia.

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