By Lasca Randels
WARSAW — “Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.”
For families dealing with drug addiction, it can feel as if there is no answer to their problem, that no one understands what they’re going through…that there’s no hope.
That’s where The Mom of an Addict Inc. comes in.
Two women, both mothers of recovering addicts, formed the nonprofit organization in order to help families dealing with addiction.
Founder and Director of The Mom of an Addict Inc. Jennifer Hope of Fort Wayne and Jeni Streeter of Warsaw met at a training session for Certified Recovery Coaches, through A Bridge to Hope (now Fellowship Missions Addiction Recovery Hub) in the Fall of 2018.
Both women served as recovery coaches with A Bridge to Hope for a year but found that while they have a heart for those in recovery, they better related to parents and family members.
“My son, Tommy, was a recovering addict and when Jen and I started talking we realized we had almost the same story with our sons, just different names and faces,” Streeter said. “Jennifer told me about this support group she wanted to start and it sounded exactly like something that would have helped save my sanity during the years I was fighting for Tommy’s life. I knew I had to be a part of this group.”
The 20-lesson curriculum covers topics such as the science of addiction, communication, healthy boundaries, types of drugs, family roles, codependency, the dad’s perspective and dealing with loss.
“The Mom of an Addict, Inc. was born to offer to parents what would have been helpful to Jeni and me while we were going through the dark days of our sons’ addictions,” Hope said. “Our desire was to create a place where families didn’t feel alone, where they could learn about this disease and make connections with others who get what it’s like to love someone who is battling or has battled this disease.”
The group’s mission statement is “To provide education and support to families who have been affected by a child’s or loved one’s substance use disorder.”
Both Hope and Streeter spent approximately seven years watching their sons battle addiction.
Hope said her oldest child tried alcohol for the first time when he was a sophomore in high school.
“Addiction is a genetic disease that runs in my family, and it pulled him in quickly. During the seven years that followed while he was in active addiction, I found myself feeling very scared and alone,” Hope said. “I carried a lot of guilt wondering where I had gone wrong as a parent. I didn’t understand why he would say he didn’t want to keep drinking and using drugs, but yet would go right back to it.”
Fearing judgment of her child and family, she suffered alone in silence.
“I spent countless sleepless nights wondering where my child was and if he was still alive. I found myself obsessing over what was going to happen to Jake, all while adopting a lot of unhealthy habits and neglecting myself along the way,” Hope said. “I literally became addicted to trying to save my child and was becoming more and more socially withdrawn because I didn’t want others to see me melt down if and when the next crisis occurred.”
Many detoxes, rehabs and sober living homes later, Hope began to educate herself about the disease of addiction.
“Things began to click in my mind, and I was able to understand why he couldn’t just stop. I realized my communication with him had essentially been rendering him powerless, so I started to change our conversations,” Hope said. “I learned about what I can and can’t control. I learned about boundaries – what they are, why they’re important and how to set them for me, my family and my home.”
Streeter’s story is virtually identical.
“There was nothing we didn’t do or try to help them. Everything we had was focused on trying to save their lives, while everything else fell to the side,” Streeter said. “We couldn’t really talk about our struggles or our deteriorating family life with anyone. The last thing we wanted was for someone to think badly of our child or our family, due to the stigma of addiction.”
Once both Hope’s son and Streeter’s son were able to get sober and maintain sobriety, the women knew they needed to do something for other families going through what they did.
Thus, The Mom of an Addict Inc. came to fruition.
The meetings initially took place in Fort Wayne where the group meets at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesdays at The Chapel on Hamilton Road.
“The first meeting in Fort Wayne we didn’t know what to expect. I think we’d have been happy with 10 people,” Streeter said. “We had over 60 people show up and we had to set chairs up in the hallway. We knew then how needed our support group was.”
The women heard from people in the Warsaw area who expressed an interest in the meetings but found it difficult to make the trip to Fort Wayne on a weeknight.
Due to the overwhelming interest and need, The Mom of an Addict Inc. meetings are coming to the Warsaw area.
Beginning May 27, meetings will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday evenings at Pathway Church, located at 2402 W Old Rd 30, Warsaw.
“Jeni has been outstanding at building relationships with the Warsaw families who attend our Allen County meetings,” Hope said. “She is a key member of our leadership team and has such a heart for those who are hurting in her community. Jeni’s compassion for other parents has been a driving force in bringing our meetings to Warsaw.”
Moms, dads, grandparents, spouses, adult children, siblings and friends attend meetings weekly.
“We do have parents and other family members who bring their child or loved one who is in recovery or seeking recovery with them,” Hope said. “We receive positive feedback from those who join us. When family members have a better understanding of how everyone is affected, it can promote healing.”
The meetings involve a 25 minute educational component and an hour of sharing.
“Unless you’ve been in this position with a child, it’s almost impossible to understand what we feel,” Streeter said. “At our meetings, we all understand. We’ve been there. We feel that when moms get together for a cause that involves our children we can change the world. This is our first step.”
On Sept. 11, The Mom of an Addict will host the second annual ‘Recovery Rocks’ event at the Sweetwater Outdoor Performance Pavilion in Fort Wayne. This event coincides with Recovery Month in order to spread hope, end the stigma and connect people to resources. The event features dynamic speakers, live music, resource tables and food trucks. The event is free, and Ride for Recovery will make its final stop of the day at this event.