Blair County support group gives HOPE to families battling addiction

Local News

BLAIR COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — When someone new comes to the HOPE Support Group at Blair Drug and Alcohol Partnerships, John Wells sees someone who’s lost hope.

“They look shattered. They’re just literally almost blank, right on the verge of tears or breakdown, because they have been struggling with this for so long and finally they heard that there is a group that meets that tries to support them,” he said.

Wells is in long-term recovery after struggling with drug addiction in his 20s.

“Marijuana, a concentrated form of marijuana called hash, or hashish, and I also did a far amount of psychedelics, that would be LSD, mescaline,” he said.

For the past almost 15 years, one of Wells’ family members has also struggled with substance abuse.

“The cycle of trying to control, trying to manage it, trying to figure out what’s the next best thing, what did I say wrong that allowed this to happen, what did I fail to do that allowed this to happen. Those are the kinds of things that family members torture themselves with all the time,” he said.

He and his wife turned to the HOPE, and now, they want to be there for others families just like them

“The problem that we’re experiencing in our family, with our loved one, is something that others have experienced, as well, that others have gone down that road,” Wells said.

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 19.7 million American adults battled a substance use disorder in 2017.

Blair County is recognized in the Commonwealth for its resources to help both the afflicted and their families.

One of the first things HOPE members discuss is the “Three C’s.”

“We didn’t cause it, we can’t control it, and we can’t cure it.”

They also emphasize the difference between enabling and supporting a loved one.

“Meeting their needs, paying their bills, doing all those things, it becomes enabling, and we’re not enabling them. We’re enabling their disease because we’re no longer dealing with our loved one. We’re dealing with our loved one superimposed with the disease, and that is a totally different entity, a totally different person,” Wells said.

But the group, rooted in shared struggles, relies on hope for a brighter future for them and so many others.

“We can stay healthy, we can have a measure of joy and peace in our lives as we learn the things that we can control, the things we can’t control, and learn to be resigned and accept that reality,” Wells said.

The HOPE Support Group group meets every Wednesday night from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Blair Drug and Alcohol Partnerships. BALM, which stands for Be A Loving Mirror, is a seven-week class also offered by BDAP.

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