A National Epidemic
Drug overdose deaths and opioid-involved deaths are on the rise across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and throughout the United States. More so today than ever before, the majority of drug overdose deaths (more than six out of ten) involve an opioid.1 The abuse of and addiction to opioids is a serious public health issue that affects almost every community in some way. It destroys people’s lives and tears families apart. Unfortunately there is no quick fix or easy solution. Even those who successfully complete a treatment program know that they still have a rough and painful road ahead of them. It can take months or even years to rebuild emotional bonds and regain the trust that was lost due to their addiction.
A Champion for Parents in Recovery
People who meet Delores Reyes can sense her energy and strength immediately. She is the sort of person who has a positive effect on all she meets. A Senior Trainer and Facilitator at Parenting Journey who has worked with hundreds of parents and caregivers over the years, Delores has experienced first-hand the damage that addiction can do.
With 27 years of sobriety under her belt, Sober Parenting Journey is more than just a program to Delores; it’s personal. “I’ve been through a lot in my recovery and I have overcome a lot of the issues that I went through in active addiction through the recovery journey. I put my best foot forward and I am never giving up on myself. Never. I am never going to stay sick because I know what this disease does. I’m not staying sick.” Ms. Reyes commitment to stay clean, sober, and heal as well as her passion to help others is what continues to drive her. “I want to help people because I know what this disease does. It destroys lives, it destroys communities, and it destroys families. It’s ripping apart families with no remorse.”
In addition to being a certified mental health and expressive therapies clinician, the hardships she has faced throughout her life have also equipped Ms. Reyes with the tools needed to delve deeply into the work of 12 Step Recovery, mental health therapy, and substance abuse prevention modalities. “That’s why I can go into the gutter with people,” explains Delores. “Does anyone remember the little girl that got stuck in the well in Texas – years ago – she fell very deep in the well. Rescue workers knew the little girl needed someone to be with her during the rescue. So they sent a social worker down there with her because the power of emotional, physical and mental support, precise listening skills and unconditional love for her to know she was not alone. That’s me. That’s me in my life of helping people. Because I can go down deep into the well and I can be with the little girl or that adult until we get out together. I can help others to feel safe feel safe and know that each parent or person will be okay.”
Enter Sober Parenting Journey
In 2007, Delores and her teammates began developing a program for parents in recovery, which would ultimately become Sober Parenting Journey. Her motivation today is the same as in 2007. “People are dying,” explains Delores, “and that’s why we need this program. They are dying from the substances they are using.”
Although there is no cure for the disease of addiction, Sober Parenting Journey, the newest program to be offered by Parenting Journey, was developed to help parents build the confidence and optimism needed to ensure a successful recovery. “It’s a safe space where parents can uncover their inner strengths, talents, and work to achieve their goals of sober parenting and successful living.”
Delores recounts what one parent once said to her: “‘I have a place that I can come to where I can talk about what it’s like to parent without using drugs. I don’t want to relapse but I need this kind of help. I need someone to get inside of my brain to walk with me.’ That’s the key with Sober Parenting Journey.”
In the spring of 2014, Delores led the first Sober Parenting Journey program. It was so well received that she was able to run another group again that fall. In 2016, she took what she learned and observed during the program pilots and refined the curriculum – honing the focus on relapse prevention with more components on addictive, high risk, and compulsive behaviors.
In January 2017, she relaunched Sober Parenting Journey, and the organization added the program to its permanent list of program offerings. As we enter the 10th session of the revised curriculum, we are seeing the investment in improvements pay off. “The foundation – from what I can tell from the way people respond – it’s on a nice foundation right now,” reports Ms. Reyes. And for the first time, in June of 2017, Parenting Journey will offer a Sober Parenting Journey Facilitator Training so that professionals can learn how to bring this program to their own organizations.
As the substance abuse epidemic continues to destroy families, it’s the drive to save lives and rebuild family ties that compels Delores forward. “Some people are stuck in the well and some of them are dying in that well. It’s a huge epidemic – that’s really what touched my heart in doing this. I want to be a part of the solution and help.”
Click here to learn more about Sober Parenting Journey.
Click here to learn how you can become a trained facilitator to run Sober Parenting Journey at your organization.
Delores Reyes is a Senior Trainer and Facilitator at Parenting Journey. She holds a Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling and a Master’s Degree in Expressive Therapies.
Rudd RA, Seth P, David F, Scholl L. Increases in Drug and Opioid-Involved Overdose Deaths — United States, 2010–2015. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. ePub: 16 December 2016. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm6550e1.