A new support group, aimed at families and other loved ones of substance misusers meets Tuesdays at 6 p.m. in space offered by Seven Mile Road Church, 71 Post Road in Kennebunk. Tammy Wells Photo

KENNEBUNK – When someone you love or care about is in the grip of substance use disorder, knowing what to do that might help or trying to cope with that reality can be difficult.

Now, a new support group aims to offer some hope and coping skills to family, friends and coworkers of people misusing drugs or alcohol.

The meetings, facilitated by the Portland-based nonprofit called The Family Restored, are held 6 to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesdays in space offered by Seven Mile Road Church, 71 Portland Road.

“It’s hard, as a loved one, when you don’t know what to do,” said Kennebunk Police Chief Robert MacKenzie.

Kennebunk Police Chief Robert MacKenzie talked about a new support group that has formed to support families and loved ones of those misusing drugs and alcohol in a recent interview. Tammy Wells Photo

MacKenzie has been at the forefront of the recovery movement in his hometown for a while. He and others felt there was a need for a support group and began exploring a couple of avenues. He talked with the folks at The Family Restored and with the help of a $15,000 grant from Kennebunk Savings through the Coastal Healthy Communities Coalition, the group is up and running. As well, a grant from Altrusa has resulted n a lending library of books that support group members may find helpful.

Eric Girard is the group facilitator and co-founded The Family Restored in Portland in 2014, though he and others founded earlier support groups, beginning in 2011. Girard said he has been in recovery or about a dozen years.

“We use our personal experiences as people in long term recovery and share our stories, to help the families navigate what they are going through and what their loved one is going through,” he said.

Girard earned an associates degree in behavioral health and is certified as a drug and alcohol counselor, and has worked in group homes, sober living homes, and in and out-patient treatment programs and detox centers.

At meetings, he said, each family member has an opportunity to share their current situation. Guest speakers – usually people in long term recovery, share their own stories, with a focus on how their family dynamic affected their addiction.

The support group first met on Oct. 29. Nine people showed up that night, and nine at the second meeting.

“We’re off to a pretty good start,” Girard said, recalling the first Portland meetings when no one showed up for three months. He said the agency was a week away from scrapping the Portland meeting when people started attending. Now there are two meetings in Portland, three in Massachusetts, one each in New Hampshire and Vermont – and Kennebunk.

“It is important to note that meetings create a fellowship among the members who attend,” said Girard. “One of the things we try to do is inspire some hope in families that are really feeling hopeless. We try to be living demonstrations that we have all been through it and came out the other side and are successfully in long term recovery.”

Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: