When Deborah Capps of Advance, NC, was dealing with her teenage son’s battle with alcohol and drugs over 20 years ago, support groups were rare; although she attended one for a while, places to help her know she wasn’t alone in her struggles to help her son were limited. “Kevin’s drug problem started in his teen years and gradually got worse – from marijuana, to harder drugs and alcohol. But with the birth of his daughter in 1996, we really thought he had conquered those demons. He stepped up as a dad and did everything he could to be what she needed him to be,” recalled Deborah. Sadly, on April 24, 2005, at the age of 31, with his daughter away at a sleepover, Kevin, after a day and night of heavy drinking, died at a party, on a sofa, and no one noticed. “I think ‘What if they could’ve done something to save him?’ Everyone was so out of it that they didn’t check on him until it was too late,” Deborah said. So when her church, Clemmons United Methodist Church, (UMC) became involved with the national support group, PAL- Parents of Addicted Loved Ones, Deborah became a facilitator for the meetings. Her personal experience with her son gives her a passion to help other parents whose children are currently dealing with substance abuse. “These parents are still able to help their child and we are here to give them the support they need to make it through this journey,” commented Deborah.
PAL is a faith-based, Christian organization with a mission to provide hope through education and support to parents of addicted loved ones. Founded in 2006 and incorporated as a non-profit in 2015, the group has now expanded nationally. All facilitators must have or have had an addicted loved one and complete the PAL training. Clemmons UMC is the first church in North Carolina to support PAL. Reverend Gloria Hughes of Clemmons UMC said, “As the Church, the body of Christ, we are called to be a place that offers healing, hope and love in our world. Our community, like many others is facing a rising tide of substance abuse and addictions. There is no way we can take away the pain, but we can walk this journey together. We can be a welcoming, non-judgmental presence that prays for one another, listens to one another and responds with grace, hope and love. The PAL Ministry and other Covenant Partners of CUMC also support the Forsyth County Opioid Task Force.”
The guiding principles of PAL are confidentiality, respect, acceptance and support. “I am so blessed to work with the other facilitators in our PAL group. They are amazing, beautiful, compassionate and talented people. Each meeting has a set of guidelines that we follow, from the way we open the time, to sharing of what is going on with a loved one. It’s important that not only do we share about our loved ones and what substance they battle, but that there’s an educational part also. We have a different topic each week focused on helping a parent on how to confront a challenge that they’ve never had before. We never tell anyone what they should do, but we do offer suggestions. Everyone experiences this journey at their own pace and is supported by the group regardless,” Deborah stated. Members of PAL quickly realize that they are not alone and that is a big relief in and of itself.
When you are the parent of an addicted loved one, often you take the guilt and blame on yourself, but PAL helps parents see the truth behind addiction. “Adult children make their own decisions and, as parents, we aren’t responsible for that. To be able to help your addicted loved one, you have to be healthy yourself which comes from surrounding yourself with people who are going through the same situation as you are. We want parents to know there is hope, there’s always hope, and it comes from educating ourselves and trusting in God,” commented Deborah.
PAL meetings are held every Wednesday evening at 7-8:30 pm at Clemmons UMC, 3700 Clemmons Road, Clemmons, NC. For more information, visit palgroup.org or contact Debbie Fisher at 336-712-9404 or Deborah Capps at 336-577-1616. With continued interest in PAL, Clemmons UMC is available to mentor and support any church that would like to become involved in PAL.