Health Care

When families of substance abusers can give no more

Conference helps providers help family members at risk

Pouring one’s life into helping a loved one suffering from a substance abuse disorder carries its own risks of anxiety, depression, and even suicide. On October 8-9, first responders, teachers and mental health workers will have an opportunity to learn how to help the helpers, and family members will learn helpful ways to cope with the stress.

Self-portrait of Jenna Tatro, a young Vermont woman who died of drug abuse. A training to help providers help families of people with substance abuse disorders will meet Oct. 8 at Jenna’s House, a recovery facility in Johnson.

One in three families has been impacted by a loved one with a use disorder. Dr. Libby Stuyt will lead “Providers: Supporting Families Impacted by Substance Use/Mental Illness” on Saturday, October 8 at 1:30 PM – 3:00 PM, at Jenna’s House on 117 Saint Johns Road, Johnson (free registration requested). Another session will be held Sunday, October 9, 4 – 5:30 PM at Rock Point Center on 20 Rock Point Road in Burlington (free registration requested). 

The organizers are dedicating the conference to Patty, who lovingly cared for her family member with use disorder and schizophrenia for decades, before she was suddenly overcome with uncontrollable anxiety which deepened into an relenting depression. Sadly she succumbed to this suffering, drowning in the Winooski River in December 5 years ago. Patty’s family has donated to help bring Dr. Stuyt and  the evidence-based coping tools she teaches to Vermonters, especially impacted families and the state’s first responders and providers.

Providers, including EMTs and first responders, can be more effective clinicians / counselors when they learn to cultivate coherence, self calming and emotional regulation in themselves and their patients.

This training will educate therapists, psychiatrists, social workers, mental health care workers, teachers, mentors, clergy, public safety professionals/ crisis counselors providers on the needs of families impacted by a loved one’s substance use disorder or severe mental illness. There will also be support and stress reduction assistance for family members who attend.

The aim is to both increase awareness of the needs of impacted families for support and provide evidence based tools such as acupuncture, acupressure, biofeedback, emotional freedom techniques, and mindfulness training that can swiftly de-escalate a difficult situation by decreasing the family member’s stress, anxiety or PTSD.

A $10 donation is suggested at both sessions to cover drinks and snacks provided. 

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