Several community groups are teaming up to sponsor a family education and support program on a significant, but often taboo, topic in Starke County. IU Health Starke Hospital, Mayor Rick Chambers and the city of Knox, Moving Starke County Forward, the Starke County Community Corrections Advisory Board and Porter Starke Services present four Families and Addiction programs. They will take place each Tuesday in February from 6 until 7:30 p.m. CST at the Nancy J. Dembowski Community Center. Porter Starke Substance Abuse and Addiction Counselor Todd Willis says they wanted to present information in a non-threatening, educational setting.
“You can’t find a family anymore that has not been touched in some way by addiction. Whether or not it’s a husband, a wife or a child, it could be even aunts and uncles and grandparents, so having an area where people can come and learn about it and just get some information about it. There will be opportunities for some folks to to share from personal experience, but for folks who don’t want to do that, they don’t have to. It’s really going to be about coming together and getting information on how to educate people about how to deal with this in their family,” Willis said.
Willis acknowledges this can be a scary topic to discuss in such a public setting. He encourages anyone who might feel ambivalent to come out and be part of the community-wide conversation in a neutral location.
“We’re not doing it at a mental health center. We’re not doing it at a substance abuse center. We’re doing it at the community center, because this is a community problem. There will be people there who are attending that don’t struggle with addiction themselves. They’re just going for information. We’re trying to pull all kinds of people together, do it in a safe environment, a low-key environment, and we’re really going to be tackling that stigma people still have about addiction,” Willis said.
Willis adds confidentiality will also be addressed during the sessions. He notes addiction is a growing national problem, especially among young people.
“Not the normal ones we’re used to, like cocaine and heroin. I think folks are learning that those are quite damaging. What we’re seeing is prescription drug use skyrocketing, and some of the synthetic drugs for kids. They have access to those, and they’re cheap,” said Willis.
The workshops are all free and open to the anyone who has a loved one that struggles with addiction. They will take place Tuesday evenings Feb. 4, 11, 18 and 25 from 6 until 7:30 p.m. at the Nancy J. Dembowski Community Center. Call 574-772-2258 ext. 107 or 219-476-4655 for more information.