New support group encourages students, helps in fight against substance abuse

Kennesaw State’s Center for Young Adult Addiction and Recovery started a new support group in February for families and individuals who have lost a loved one to substance abuse.

The group, Grief Recovery After Substance Passing, provides a community of support for students to safely share their experiences and connect with others, according to CYAAR executive director Teresa Johnston.

Those impacted by substance use disorders, overdose and subsequent behaviors can often experience feelings of isolation, and support groups emphasize that no one is alone in those experiences.

“Individuals and families can expect compassion,” Johnston said. “Groups of this kind are beneficial because it helps to provide an avenue for sharing grief, remembering loved ones and learning how others may cope.”

More than 64,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2016, including illicit drugs and prescription opioids, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Safe outlets for the families and individuals affected by substance abuse are a prime need.

“Support groups offer companionship and understanding from others who have experienced a similar loss,” according to bereavement counselor Patti Cox. “In a culture that often avoids talking about loss, support groups give you the opportunity to share your story openly and guilt-free.”

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