Free program counsels families struggling with addiction

An estimated one out of ten people who use alcohol before the legal drinking age will develop drug addiction or another substance abuse disorder, as will six of ten who use other drugs before the age of 15.

Addiction negatively impacts users’ lives and the lives of those who love them. Thoughts like “it can’t happen in my family” or “it’s just a phase” can fuel years of denial, during which behavioral and financial difficulties take their toll. Stigma often prevents family members from identifying problems and seeking help. Loved ones believe that they somehow must have caused or contributed to the user’s illness and therefore should be able to cure or at least control it. The truth is the opposite.

The family education and support group at Saint Alban Episcopal Church is designed for family members and significant others concerned about a loved one’s abuse or addictive use of alcohol or other drugs.

The free program is facilitated by Jim Joyner, a licensed chemical dependency counselor with nearly 47 years of experience. Joyner brings his expertise to prevention, treatment, education and other intervention services in the battle against the ravages of alcohol and drug addiction.

“We help family members understand that when they enable (make the addict’s dysfunction comfortable), their loved one has no real motive to change,” explained Joyner. Through participation in the program, Joyner has found that family members “learn that letting go doesn't mean they don't love the addicted one, but rather that they have come to understand the things they can change and the things they can't . . .”

The Saint Alban program differs from other group programs like Al-Anon in that it offers education. The first hour of each meeting is devoted to providing information to help family members understand addiction as a brain disorder, and help them learn to respond to addicted loved ones’ behaviors without taking responsibility for them. The second portion of each meeting is about support, providing a caring environment for participants seeking to make healthier choices for themselves and those they love.

The program takes place at Saint Alban Episcopal Church, 2555 Euclid Heights Blvd., Cleveland Heights, every other Wednesday evening, from 6 to 8:30 p.m., with upcoming dates being Nov. 14 and 28.

Participation is free. The program is financially supported by individual donations, grant funding, and Episcopal Community Services of the Episcopal Diocese of Ohio.

For more information, call 216-780-3883 or visit

Wiley Smith and Kari Collier

Wiley Smith and Kari Collier are members of Saint Alban Episcopal Church in Cleveland Heights.

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Volume 11, Issue 11, Posted 11:20 AM, 10.30.2018