Substance Use Recovery in Families Focus of Annual Conference
WESTMINSTER, VT- Kurn Hattin Homes for Children held its 23rd Annual Conference on Friday October 24th. Each year the organization has held an educational conference to offer new opportunities for training and skills development to staff, educators, human service organizations, and community partners from all over the eastern region. This year’s topic was What About the Kids? Substance Use Treatment and Recovery in Families. The featured speakers were Dianna Christmas, MPH, and Beth Marron, M.Ed., MSW, LICSW, of the Institute of Healing and Recovery in Cambridge, MA.
Photo caption: (L to R) Kurn Hattin Annual Conference speakers Dianna Christmas and Beth Marron with Kurn Hattin Admissions Director Sue Kessler
The speakers shared their expertise on the effects of substance use and addiction on families, as well as strategies and resources for effectively helping to guide families toward recovery. Ms. Christmas kicked off the conference with some shocking figures. She noted that treatment for opiate addiction in Vermont had increased 770% since 2000. The audience learned to identify the effects of alcohol, cocaine, and heroin on parenting behaviors; as well as the behaviors of children exposed to traumatic stress at various stages of development. Providers were shown how they can support both children and families impacted by the trauma of parental substance use. Vermont AHS Field Director, Sadie Fischesser, an attendee of the conference, noted, “It is so easy to lose sight of what being a child of an addictive parent means. Too often there is only a focus on one or the other, the child or the parent.”
The pair also spent time addressing the vicarious or secondary trauma of counselors and educators working with children facing these issues. Participants were able to explore strategies for effective self-care.
Conference attendees voiced their overwhelming approval. When local educators were asked what the most common addiction among their students’ parents appeared to be, surprisingly, it was not alcohol, but heroin. Counselor Brian Sheahan of Plymouth, NH said that he had worked with families in recovery for methamphetamine use, as well. Margaret Perry of Hill House Pre-School described the workshops as, “Excellent. I had been searching for more information about this. I work with children who are affected by their parent’s addictions; and I have wanted to know more about how to support them, and support their families.”
Established in 1894, Kurn Hattin Homes for Children in Westminster, Vermont is a charitable, year-round home and school for boys and girls, ages 6-15, who are affected by tragedy and social or economic hardship. Kurn Hattin Homes transforms the lives of children and their families forever. www.kurnhattin.org