ADDICTED: Support for families of those addicted - 21 News Now, More Local News for Youngstown, Ohio -

ADDICTED: Support for families of those addicted

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio - Like babies born addicted, there are many people being dragged into this World of addiction without a choice. 

 In part 5 of our series "Addicted," 21 News investigates how this opiate and heroin epidemic can tear a family apart, and how some are getting support to keep it all together.

Anna Howells of Boardman says, "It is a family disease. When somebody has that addiction, the whole family becomes sick. We do become sick. We become consumed with the addict, and then all the family members suffer."

Howells says she was devastated when she first learned her son Dennis was using Oxycontin and then Heroin. She describes shock, anger and confusion. But says it was Alanon, a group more commonly known for helping families of alcoholics in the past, now also helping families of opiate users that saved her life -- counseling her, and helping her understand what Dennis was going through before he died.

"It taught me to set my boundaries. It taught me to detach in a loving way, and then our relationship changed, and we sat down, I put my anger aside, and I was able to sit down and listen to him," Howells said.

Not matter how you are pulled into this epidemic of addiction, the first step is acknowledging it isn't something to be ashamed of according to Howells.

"It's a disease. And we need to stop treating it like a disgrace. We need to change the stigma of drug addiction. People need to not be ashamed of it -- because that's why people don't reach out and go get help."

Howells is now joining others like Kimberly Webb of Howland to form the group S.O.L.A.C.E. Of the Valley, which stands for "Surviving Our Losses And Continuing With Everything." The group gives family members support and guidance on how to best help those addicted.

Kimberly Webb of Howland is a member, "That pretty much sums it all up because a lot of us have lost people and our passion is to get the word out so we can help our addicts -- or it's educating people how if they don't have insurance there's places for them to go. My son hasn't had no insurance, and he's at the Absolute House, and he's doing real well."

Pam Eastman of Warren is also a member of the S.O.L.A.C.E. Group., "The support system teaches you how to take care of yourself. How to set your boundaries with your addict, and you have someone to turn to."

One major step forward the families say, has been lawmakers stepping in and recognizing it's a public health crisis, and people are dying.

 Approving the use of Narcan for families, first responders and others will now help save lives in the event of a heroin or opiate overdose, and Kimberly Webb who already lost one loved one to an overdose says she's thankful another family member has been saved.

"I think it's a wonderful thing. If it wasn't for Narcan I wouldn't have my son today."

Here are several resources you can contact:

"SOLACE of the Valley" (Mahoning and Trumbull County)
Next scheduled meeting:
Sunday, May 18th, 6:00pm
At the Coalition for Drug-Free Mahoning County
755 Boardman-Canfield Road
Unit B-2
Boardman, Ohio 44512

"Meridian Community Care"
(330) 797-0070

"Neil Kennedy Recovery Clinic"
(330) 744-1181

* There are also numerous other resources in the valley to help those addicted and to help give support to families of those addicted.

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