• Kids can't do it alone

Kids Can’t Do It Alone

A letter from one of our readers…

Dear Jeff and Debra:

Our family situation seems hopeless. I’m not looking for intervention or treatment help. I’m worried about my two grandchildren, who are growing up in an alcoholic household. Their parents seem to think alcohol and drug use has no effect on the kids, but the children are 7 and 9 years old, and I know they see what’s going on. Is there any help I can find for the children? This situation breaks my heart.

                                                                                             -Grieving Grandma

Dear Grieving:

Jerry Moe, formerly of the Betty Ford Center, has been a pioneer in helping children affected by addiction. He teamed up with Sesame Street to create a series of videos that are fantastic. https://sesameworkshop.org/topics/parental-addiction/ These videos have probably done more to help kids struggling with a parent’s addiction than anything we’ve come across.

We interviewed Jerry on our “Best Minds Podcast” here: https://lovefirst.net/dont-forget-the-children-with-jerry-moe/ Jerry said, “Children are the first hurt and the last helped. They may not understand everything that’s going on, but they feel the stress, the instability, the difficulty, and the unpredictability that’s going on in the family. So, we need to have them be part of the recovery process.” The podcast with Jerry is worth a listen.

The biggest voice for children is NACoA, the National Association for Children of Addiction. They’ve also worked with Jerry Moe and Sesame Street, and have several new projects in the works. Headed by Denise Bertin-Epp, NACoA has created special kits to be used by schools, treatment providers, and other organizations, that can help kids cope with the stress of living in an addicted household.

NACoA’s Children’s Program Kit is an online training program that just launched in September. It’s available at 40 sites nationwide, with a campaign called Children Deserve Recovery Too! Some sites, like De La Salle Collegiate, in Warren, Michigan, are already supporting children in under-resourced and underrepresented communities. NACoA’s Children’s Program Kit provides over 100 skill-based and developmentally appropriate lesson plans, and everything needed to offer a strong and effective educational support program to school-age children K-12. We hope to see more organizations take advantage of these resources. Learn more here: https://nacoa.org

The Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, based in Minnesota, has also been a leader in providing services for kids affected by addiction. They offer in-person and virtual programs for kids with an addicted parent. “We provide children a language to talk about all kinds of complex experiences like trauma and divorce, but prior to the Children’s Program, there was no language for kids to talk about addiction in their families,” said child psychiatrist Joseph Lee, MD, president and CEO of the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation. “Now children have that language.”

It’s been our pleasure to work with Jerry Moe, NACoA, and Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation over the years. Their dedication to children is second to none. If you’re concerned about children who are affected by the alcohol and drug use of a parent, we urge you to access their resources. The kids can’t do it alone.

This article was originally published in the Grosse Pointe News

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