A light of hope for those addicted
Support group hosts event for parents of drug abusers
Kim Palmer wasnt sure what to do when she found out her son sank into the dark depths of heroin addiction in 2009.
Devastated, she took to the computer keyboard to research support for moms whove gone through such a traumatic experience.
She found solace in the group The Addicts Mom, which connects mostly through Facebook.
The support personally that Ive received and growth that Ive experienced is amazing, she says. The group boasts more than 70,000 members nationwide.
Palmer, who is originally from Portland but now lives in Tigard, became much more involved over time, first as a member. Eventually she started to organize events and meetups, such as the upcoming second-annual Lights of Hope event, which takes place this Sunday evening at the East Portland Eagles Lodge.
At the event, candles are lit to remember those who have been lost to addiction, to celebrate those in recovery, and to remember those still struggling in addiction or who are incarcerated.
When meeting up on a recent weekday, Palmer was wearing a white ribbon inside of a purple one, to celebrate that her son is in recovery.
September is National Recovery Month, sponsored by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
The Lights of Hope event will host several speakers, including a registered nurse in the drug addiction field, a young woman in recovery, firefighters and the group Hidden in Plain Sight, which helps make families aware of what to look for in drug addiction.
Though her son fell into drug addiction in 2009, Palmer says hes been 18 months clean and serene.
The road has been difficult.
In the beginning, we tried the typical having him in our home, but then hed leave, and wed let him come back. We found that just doesnt work, Palmer says. Sometimes living in the home is a trigger.
She says her experience with her son has allowed her to help other moms in The Addicts Mom.
Its a fine line between enabling and supporting. Sometimes the line is very blurry, and we dont see it very well ourselves, so thats how we can support each other as moms, Palmer says.
The Addicts Mom was established in 2008 by Barbara Theodosiu, a South Florida mother of four who found out that two of her sons were addicted to drugs.
Since then, the group has gained national attention and coverage by major news outlets. One of its members is Michael Botticelli, the director of National Drug Control Policy at the White House.
According to a report released in 2015 by the Oregon High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Program, meth use is the No. 1 abused drug in the state, followed by heroin, marijuana, controlled prescription drugs, cocaine and designer drugs.
Though Palmer observes that heroin seems to be the main addiction reported by moms in the group, she says a lot of the mothers have children affected by meth and other drugs as well.
Many kids are poly substance users. Theyll do anything, basically, she says.
She hopes those affected by addiction will come out to the event and consider becoming involved with The Addicts Mom, or other branches for siblings and family members.
Through The Addicts Mom ... if I can help one mom not feel so scared, if I can help one mom know she doesnt have to fight this by herself, then sharing my story and experiences are all worth it, Palmer says.
Lights of Hope event
When: 6-9 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 11
Where: East Portland Eagles Lodge, 4094 S.E. Hawthorne Boulevard.
Find out more: facebook.com/groups/TAMOregon, addictsmom.com