Resource and support group for families of those with addiction opens in Elizabethton

When Jessica Broyles began seeking help for her son’s addiction, she said she found nothing in the region to help the families of addicts who were trying to help.

“In order to be able to help an addict and understand the addiction process, there is a lot of education that goes into it,” Broyles said.

Eventually, she found the Parents of Addicted Loved ones (PAL) and decided to work on starting a branch here in Elizabethton. In April, she succeeded.

“PAL is a support group for adults with loved ones battling addiction to drugs and alcohol,” she said.

She said the support group has several points of focus, but one of the main ones was on education.

“There was so much I did not understand,” she said. “In the beginning, I knew addiction was an illness, but I thought [my son] should be able to control it better.”

During her educational process with PAL, she said she learned just how overpowering the addiction can be.

“Once someone takes that first drug, the need absolutely overpowers every other force in their life,” Broyles said.

She compared the desire to being held at gunpoint and given an ultimatum: come clean or die.

“Part of their mind would try to figure out if they could get that high before the bullet hit them,” she said.

One of the textbooks she read as part of her certification had another powerful comparison.

“The disease of addiction is stronger than every relationship,” she said.

Fortunately, another strong part of PAL is hope.

“At our weekly meetings, we offer education, support, hope and the knowledge we are not alone,” Broyles said.

She said this form of education and support includes ways family members can help their loved ones in their struggles to become or stay clean. This includes changing seemingly innocent behaviors that may actually enable addictions without even realizing.

“You learn about the disease process and how it affects addicts, about enabling behaviors people do not realize are enabling,” she said. “This has helped me understand why [my son] behaves the way he does.”

Broyles said anyone and everyone is welcome to attend PAL’s weekly meetings, held at the Carter County Drug Prevention office at 546 East Elk Ave.

She said those looking for more information can contact her by phone at 423-512-1509 or by email at jess.broyles83@gmail.com.

Meetings take place at 11 a.m. on Saturdays.

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