January Newsletter 2019

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A Message from Joanne Peterson founder of Learn To Cope

As the Heroin and Prescription epidemic rages on, and families continue to lose their loved ones, including my family who experienced losing my beautiful niece Jeannine in on July 28, 2018, we need HOPE and we need healing.


I started LTC (a support group for those who have a loved one struggling with substance abuse disorder) back in the spring of 2004 by accident. My husband and I needed help, our family was lost trying to save my son from a monster that no one really knew about. It was OxyContin. Oxy was unleashed to the medical field as safe for moderate pain by a pharmaceutical company knowing it should only have been used for end of life cancer pain or severe chronic pain. Instead it was prescribed for minor surgeries, tooth extractions and it was quickly the new drug in the communities for young people to experiment with. Sadly, my son was one of them.

As adolescents do at times he made a terrible decision to try it. The very next day he needed more and the story you hear so often goes on, he quickly became a Heroin addict when he could no longer afford the $80 per pill pricetag to keep from becoming severely ill with withdrawal.


The story continued and his life spiraled and he ended up involved in the criminal justice system. The newspaper printed a story about what he did which involved stealing and the judgement and stigma toward our family began. Not only did this severely hurt my husband and I, it hurt our younger children. What people did not know was the other side. There were now many young people in town using heroin. We didn’t know it could be snorted, we didn’t know it was easier to get than a six pack of beer. We wondered what we did wrong because we loved him and talked to him about drugs and alcohol. We thought we were doing everything right.


After the story came out, so did I. I wanted people to know there was a “story behind the story” and once I did this through the media I heard from hundreds of people. In the spring of 2004, fifteen years ago we started meeting in a room that grew larger and larger. Today there are 25 chapters around Massachusetts, over 10,000 members on our websites discussion board, we offer Nasal Naloxone (Narcan)at every meeting weekly and we see a lot of recovery, my son included with just shy of 11 years drug and alcohol free.


Out of pain and desperation I found my voice like many other parents have including Barbara and David Gillmeister. Out of their pain losing their son they have started Gilly’s House and they are advocates. I am proud to know them and proud of their work. In this crisis we need all the help and HOPE we can get. I would like to wish each and every family that has lost a loved one or that has one struggling peace and hope this new year and every year forward. It’s the people who can help the people when it comes to this. Our children and family are not merely numbers we are human beings. I am proud to know people like Barbara and David and I wish them peace in knowing their work is making a difference in the lives of many!


Joanne Peterson

Learn to Cope

Please Check out our website for meeting schedule

www.learn2cope.org