The emotional, psychological and financial strain of having a family member with an addiction can be overwhelming.
But one group in Steveston is offering support to families – sometimes just a listening ear – with no judgment or “shocked looks.”
Linda, who asked to just use her first name to protect her daughter’s identity, said she’s supported her daughter in many ways as she struggles with dual diagnosis of mental health and drug addiction.
The reaction, however, of people who haven’t experienced this type of issue, though, is often of shock or pity, or sometimes they don’t know what to say, Linda said.
There is also judgment and shame around addictions, she added.
But when Linda attends the Boundaries support group, which meets regularly in Steveston, she’s with people who are either currently dealing with or have dealt with family members who have a substance use disorder.
“To be able to talk about this with other people who have been in or are in the same boat as you, it’s a relief,” Linda said.
“The support group is to support each other, not to try to get help for our loved one, or fix our loved one, to help ourselves with the struggles that we go through,” she added.
Boundaries group meets weekly
There were four deaths from overdose in Richmond in January, but none in the month of February, according to data released by the BC Coroners Service this week.
Across the province, there were 329 deaths in January and February.
When a VCH-facilitated support group for families dealing with addictions was discontinued about seven years ago, Linda Shirley (a different Linda), owner of The Arts Connection, offered to host the meeting in Steveston.
It is run out of her business in the Steveston industrial park and she donates the space.
“We believe a lot in giving back to the community and this is one of the programs that we at The Arts Connection do to support the community,” Shirley said.
A $5 donation from attendees goes toward the group’s facilitator, a registered clinical counsellor.
Shirley suggests anyone interested in the group call her so she can give them an idea what kind of support is offered at Boundaries.
The purpose of the group is not to fix the person with the addiction, but to support the family member.
“It’s to help them learn to develop boundaries, stay healthy, because enabling and co-dependency can kill you, the stress from dealing with it,” Shirley said.
There are a lot of parents who attend who have adult “kids” from ages 19 to 50, Shirley said, whose lives are being disrupted by drug and alcohol addiction.
“We’ve had grown men in there crying – they’re trying to deal with everything that’s going on,” Shirley said.
Some people have been coming for years and their loved one is in recovery, but they want to stay connected and offer support, she added.
The group meets every Tuesday evening from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at The Arts Connection.
The group had to stop in-person meetings at the beginning of the pandemic, but now they meet weekly with everyone donning a mask and sitting on chairs six feet apart.
To contact the group, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Shirley at 604-619-1772.
For more information about Boundaries, go to Boundariesgroup.ca.
Support for youth: Foundry Richmond
VCH mental health: Vancouver Coastal Health mental health resources
Richmond mental health number: 604-204-1111