The Partnership at Drugfree.org, the nation's largest nonprofit organization dedicated to finding evidence-based solutions to adolescent substance use disorders, has announced a new, pioneering pilot program specifically for parents whose children are struggling with drug and alcohol problems. The Parent Support Network is a groundbreaking initiative designed to provide direct peer-to-peer support and assistance to parents who are dealing with their teen or young adult's substance issues.
Working together with the Center for Motivation and Change, a group of nationally recognized clinicians and researchers specializing in motivational and cognitive-behavioral approaches to addiction, The Partnership at Drugfree.org has trained an initial group of parents from around the country in parent-to-parent phone coaching based extensively on two evidence-based approaches:
CRAFT- (Community Reinforcement and Family Training, an evidence-based family model focused on positive reinforcement and positive communication)
Motivational Interviewing is a form of collaborative conversation for strengthening a person's own motivation and commitment to change
These parents have also been trained in integrating their own personal and family experiences with addiction into one-on-one telephone and online coaching of parents who have called the Partnership's Parents Toll-Free Helpline looking for assistance. 1
"What we know about families with substance using children is that everyone is unhappy, communication is breaking down and kids often feel trapped, pushed around and angry. Lost in all this is that parents are taking a pretty serious emotional beating as well, often feeling helpless, hopeless, embarrassed, ashamed and incompetent," said Jeff Foote, Co-founder and Clinical Director of the Center for Motivation and Change. "In collaboration with The Partnership, we hope to open a door to these millions of parents and give them a place to turn for the positive support and evidence they need to effect real changes in their families. Through this network we hope to empower parents to help other caregivers understand and practice ideas and strategies that allow them to stay connected to their kids, learn to build a better life for themselves and their families and get the support and encouragement they so desperately need."
This new parent-to-parent coaching system is the core of The Partnership at Drugfree.org's existing Parent Support Network – an online and offline program giving parents the information and support they need when their teen or young adult is abusing drugs or alcohol. Other key components of the Parent Support Network include The Partnership at Drugfree.org's Parents Toll-Free Helpline (1-855-DRUGFREE) and its science-based online resources available at drugfree.org.
At the heart of the Parent Support Network are the parents themselves – a national network of parents reflecting a broad range of experience with drugs and alcohol in their families with their kids. These parents have provided guidance in the development and evaluation of Partnership resources for parents, and expressed the desire to have CRAFT training to support Helpline callers and other caregivers.
"The Parent Support Network is demonstrably one of those great ideas whose time has come," said Steve Pasierb, President and CEO of The Partnership at Drugfree.org. "Now parents whose children are struggling with alcohol and other drug problems can get the kind of peer-to-peer support and guidance that has been shown to help those struggling with other health issues: cancer, diabetes and mental health disorders. The Network offers a lifeline to parents who feel alone and frightened, providing them with a practical, positive, evidence-based approach to helping their child towards a healthier life."
Credentialed, bilingual Helpline staffers work with parents in need to understand their child's problem, offer ideas for strengthening communication between parent and child and guiding them toward appropriate legal counseling and treatment. When callers are interested in taking advantage of this new opportunity, Helpline specialists will refer callers to the newly trained parent coaches when appropriate.
Both Helpline specialists and coaches will rely upon the extensive science-based digital resources at drugfree.org, many of which are designed to help parents interact more effectively with their child in ways that reinforce positive behavior and lead to improved outcomes. These resources also help parents evaluate the range of evidence-based treatment options that may be available to them and their child.
As the Parent Support Network grows, opportunities for parent-to-parent interaction in real time, moderated online support groups, development of a robust online parent community and referral to local in-person parent support groups in a caller or site visitor's area will be added.
"We have worked with many parents to help support and to reassure them that they are not alone, and that their child's drug or alcohol problems are not their fault," said Kim Manlove, co-chair of the national parent network. "Our work has been effective, but we wanted to get the CRAFT training to improve our support and give us the tools we need to provide better assistance for other families."
For more information on The Partnership's resources, including the Parents Toll-Free Helpline, visit drugfree.org.