Addiction support group seeks to lessen the loneliness for family

Sharon Metzger (right) listens as Sue Williams (left) and Paula Blackstone (center) go over plans for a support group open to adults with loved ones suffering from addictions. Metzger is executive director of Place of Grace, where both Williams’ and Blackstone’s daughters found help in recovering from their addictions, but the support group is independent of the transition center.
Sharon Metzger (right) listens as Sue Williams (left) and Paula Blackstone (center) go over plans for a support group open to adults with loved ones suffering from addictions. Metzger is executive director of Place of Grace, where both Williams’ and Blackstone’s daughters found help in recovering from their addictions, but the support group is independent of the transition center. Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Originally published Oct. 23, 2017.

Sue Williams and Paula Blackstone have struggled through some dark years.

Alone.

The two Huntington women, both mothers of recovering addicts, want to lessen the loneliness of others making the same journey.

They have established Stronger Together, a support group for adults with loved ones who are suffering from addiction or are in recovery. It’s meant to be a safe place, with no judgments, where family members and friends can talk to others who understand — or just sit and listen.

“That’s so important for family members,” Will-iams says. “I can sit there and tell you about it, but unless you’ve experienced it … it’s totally different.”
Blackstone and Will-iams have experienced it — young adult daughters sinking into addiction, constant prayers, police at the door, banning their own children from their homes and finally arrests that landed the young women in jail.

Jail time gave both young women the tools they needed to break their addictions and both moved in to Place of Grace, a local transition house, once their incarcerations ended.

Although Place of Grace is not involved with the support group, the transition home’s executive director, Sharon Metzger, wants to see it succeed and is helping Williams and Blackstone get the support group off the ground.

Metzger says a support group is integral in helping women return to normal lives once they leave Place of Grace.

“It’s only beneficial for them that our community is strong and prepared to accept them,” Metzger says.

Stronger Together meets on the first and third Tuesdays of each month from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. A local church, The Well United Brethren Church at 1883 Old U.S.-24, Huntington, is providing space for its meetings.  

Meeting on the first Tuesdays will be very informal, just a time to talk, Blackstone says.

“If they want to come and sit and not speak, we’re OK with that,” Williams says.

After the first of the year, the group will begin having speakers on the third Tuesdays of the month.

Because of the nature of topics discussed, children should not attend.

So far, there’s one other woman involved in the group, but Blackstone stresses that men are welcome, too, as well as adults with loved ones in other recovery programs or who are still in addiction.

“Or if they think their child has a problem,” Williams adds.

Blackstone says the signs of addiction add up slowly.

“You start seeing some things; maybe things are missing,” she says. “They’re not coming home, just closing away.”

Blackstone says she and her husband tried to talk to their daughter, but she wasn’t listening.

“Finally, you get the police looking for her … It finally got to the point when we were not allowing her to live with us.

“Sometimes you have to get hard with your kid. You can’t be an enabler.”

Williams, too, told her daughter not to come home once she realized her addiction was out of control.

“Once I found out there was a warrant for her arrest, I wouldn’t let her live with us any more,” she says.

Her daughter’s time in jail, she says, was a lifesaver.

“If she had not been ordered to come here, she would be dead,” Williams says.

Both stories look like they will have happy endings.

Blackstone’s daughter has graduated from the Place of Grace program, moved back home and has a job. She’s been hired on as a Place of Grace staff member.

Williams’ daughter is on track to graduate from Place of Grace next month.

Both say their daughters will need support as they move on.

“It’s a continual recovery,” Blackstone says.

And neither woman has forgotten those dark, lonely years of their own when their daughters were deep into addiction.

Blackstone relied on her faith during those years, but says there wasn’t anyone she could talk to.

“We pretty much handled things on our own,” Blackstone says. “There was not a thing like this in Huntington County.”

Williams, too, felt the lack of support.

“There was no one,” she says. “There was just me.

“Dog gone, being alone’s the worst thing.”

The support group, they say, will provide that listening ear.

“It’s nice to know you’re not alone,” Williams says.

“It’s something we can go through together,” Blackstone adds. “Connecting and knowing there’s hope.”

Any adult affected by addiction is welcome at the support group.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re low income, high income,” Williams says. “It hits you at any level … It’s up to the addict in the long run to do what they’re going to do.”

But, Metzger says, a support group can help family members get the knowledge they need to support their loved ones.

“You can’t support your child, your loved one, you can’t support them well unless you have the support you need,” Metzger says.