Our Programs are the of Be a Part of the Conversation
Our audiences vary depending on the topic. They often include:
• parents and guardians
• family members concerned about a loved one
• people in recovery
• professionals in the treatment field
• professionals in health care
Our programs are hosted by:
• community organizations
• local & county municipalities
• schools & school districts
• faith organizations
• private foundations
Be a Part of the Conversation programs do not provide behavioral health advice and are for informational purposes only. Our programs are not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of a qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding substance use disorders or related family needs. Never disregard professional advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read or seen in any Be a Part of the Conversation program or video.
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Family Recovery Course
The Family Recovery Course (FRC) is a three-part series of peer-led interactive educational trainings for parents or guardians whose child, at any stage of life, has struggled with addiction to drugs or alcohol.
Part 1 – Addiction 101: Exploring this complex disease.
Part 2 – Family Foundations: Understanding the family disease of addiction.
Part 3 – Family Recovery: Building a recovery plan for life.
Enrollment is limited to a maximum of 12 participants in each course.
Each course is led by two trained instructors who have personal experience with an addicted family member.
The FRC was developed in collaboration with licensed clinicians currently working in the fields of addiction treatment and behavioral health.
There is no charge to participate in the Family Recovery Course.
Parent Partnership engages parents, families and caregivers of those impacted by addiction through a network of support groups led by compassionate volunteers with lived experience. Weekly meetings provide access to expert resources and help navigating a healthier path forward for families.
Parent Partnership meetings are a branch of the nonprofit organization, Be a Part of the Conversation. We are not affiliated with any treatment providers. We are grateful to the agencies, organizations and other professionals who share information about Parent Partnership with families looking for support.
Understanding & Supporting Siblings Impacted by Addiction
Families are dramatically impacted when a member has a Substance Use Disorder (SUD/addiction). While we are getting better at addressing parents’ needs, we sometimes overlook the siblings’ needs and experiences. Quite naturally, siblings may feel resentment and anger, they may desperately want to rescue their addicted sibling, or they may isolate or disconnect … either from the addicted sibling or from the entire family system.
Recovery housing provides individuals who have a substance use disorder with a greater chance of achieving long-term recovery and is associated with numerous positive outcomes, including:
• Decreased substance use • Reduced probability of relapse/re-occurrence
• Lower rates of incarceration • Higher income
• Increased employment • Improved family functioning
About our Programs
Be a Part of the Conversation presents interactive events that increase awareness and reduce stigma surrounding substance use, misuse and addiction. If you are an educator, community leader, health care provider, or if you represent an organization that believes we can all benefit from having meaningful conversations about substance use, and its affects on individuals and their families, we invite you to join us!
How can we help?
There are two ways to Be a Part of the Conversation:
1. Choose from our Program Menu below on an “as needed” basis.
2. Become an annual Community Partner and Be a Part of the Conversation will present three community programs plus a professional development workshop. We’ll serve as an integral part of your community, providing ongoing support.
Schedule a Consultation
We will work with you to determine the topics that meet the needs of the population you serve.
Contact Judy Hirsh, our Director of Community Engagement: firstname.lastname@example.org or (717) 648-9800
Have You Had the Conversation?
For parents of elementary school students. This is an ideal time for families to begin important conversations about substance use, with special sensitivity toward young children.
Mock Teen Bedroom
Our display is intended for parents and educators to learn some of the signs of substance use in a simulated setting of a teenage bedroom.
Parenting On Your Feet
What are the challenges you are facing as parents, caregivers and educators? We’ll provide suggestions for talking with teens that will lay the foundation for healthy behaviors.
Our presenters address risk and protective factors, changes in behavior and other warning signs, substances frequently used by teens and emerging adults, and more.
We often begin with a tour of our Mock Teen Bedroom, which helps adults to identify signs of substance use, and trends in the use of cannabis, vaping and alcohol that put kids at risk.
Together, we’ll develop helpful tools to support our youth!
Kids & the Tech/Life Balance
Now more than ever, technology plays a vital role in all our lives. It keeps us connected and can educate, illuminate and entertain. With increased use, kids can develop an unhealthy dependence on tech as an escape or way to avoid life’s challenges.
Gaming, social media, and streaming entertainment can be fun and relaxing, but moderation can easily slide toward dependence. We’ll provide strategies to help our kids develop a healthy relationship with technology, and skills to practice self-care.
Michael Blanche, MSS, LCSW, a counselor specializing in adolescents and young adults, will discuss the real-world challenges facing adolescents and young adults.
Clearing the Air: Vaping | Nicotine | Cannabis
For parents and educators from all school levels. Kids are wired to try new things. The current trend, both nationally and locally, is vaping. Along with an alarming trend toward risk-taking behaviors, this is something we need to have a conversation about, as parents and as a community that cares.
Isolation: The New Drug of Choice
According to Dr. Caroline Fenkel, LCSW, “Parents frequently tell us that they have to beg their teens to get out of the house and see their friends, instead of holding them back and implementing curfews. And when you talk to them about isolating, they talk about it like it is a drug.” The effects of social isolation on mental health are overwhelmingly negative. Furthermore, ongoing loneliness and isolation can also create physical symptoms. Therefore, research shows that chronic loneliness has the following effects:
• Increased stress response and cortisol levels
• Less restful and less restorative sleep
• Negative impact on physical health; more detrimental for overall health than obesity, smoking, or high blood pressure
• Greater risk of suicide
• More alcohol and drug use
• Depression and anxiety
• Poor self-care, such as bathing, grooming, and nutrition
• Decrease in positive outlook
Dr. Fenkel will talk with parents about how we can encourage young people to stop isolating. With the advent of laptops, high-speed wifi, smart phones, Snapchat, Pinterest, Netflix, single shooter video games, it isn’t hard to wonder why teens and young adults prefer to stay in their rooms during their free time rather than connect with their peers IRL (in real life). This presentation will address the causes of chronic isolation and will guide parents in ways they can help their teens to break the isolation cycle.
The Trouble with Alcohol & Teens
Parents are the most important influence in their children’s lives. When we have open, honest and informed conversations we can help our kids to grow into healthy adults.
We’ll have a conversation about underage drinking that will support parents with valuable information, as well as guidance for creating an atmosphere of trust and open communication.
The Search for Identity
Many young people are searching for their identity, feeling pressured by a label, or just trying to belong. How does this journey put some young people at risk for substance use or other behavioral disorders?
How can family members best support youth by nurturing their identity?
To answers questions like these, a panel of behavioral health professionals and individuals in recovery will join us to explore the risks, discuss the warning signs, and provide families and educators with the tools needed to empower young people and foster a healthy identity.
Below you will find information about our past presenters, along with supportive information and resources related to the topic.
Healthy Family, Healthy Boundaries
Many parents struggle with finding balance in their relationships with their kids. What does having healthy boundaries mean? We want to have a close connection, but are we trying to be their friend? We know we need to keep an eye on their behaviors, but are we invading their privacy?
This program helps us to prepare our children for healthy independence and tools for establishing and maintaining healthy boundaries with our kids.
Cannabis (it's complicated, especially for kids!)
For parents of middle & high school students. What was once a simple plant, cannabis (marijuana) is now inspiring everything from fear to fierce loyalty. We address the science of today’s cannabis and its impact on our children’s developing brains. We need to keep an open mind and learn all we can about this drug which, today, bears little resemblance to a plant.
Preparing Your Child to Launch
Whether our kids are just starting high school, planning for college, searching for their first job, or struggling to determine their next steps in life, we may find ourselves teetering on the parenthood fence. Are we still their caregiver? Their disciplinarian? Their problem solver? What are our boundaries? Can we see the line between being supportive and loving, and being the rescuer/protector? How does that change once they attend college or leave home?
Lessons Learned from Colorado
Author of Weed, Inc. and Marijuana Policy expert, Ben Cort, will join us for a conversation about the cannabis industry, and what we can learn about the impact on communities, and particularly young people, in a state where cannabis use has been on the rise.
Youth Marijuana Prevention Project
This section is dedicated to the five-year initiative called the Youth Marijuana Prevention Project (YMPP). Be a Part of the Conversation is pleased to partner with the Montgomery County Office of Drug & Alcohol to raise awareness of the effects of marijuana use on young people. YMPP launched in July 2019 in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.
This section is dedicated to all programs addressing the broad topic of addiction. These programs explore the brain science of substance use disorders and other addictions, as well as risk factors, protective factors, and the impact on families and others who care about someone who has struggled.
Is addiction a choice or a disease? We’ll take a look at the science of addiction, including risk factors, protective factors, and what the signs might be that someone has crossed the line from substance use or misuse to addiction. We’ll also talk about strategies for cravings and coping.
Embracing the Consequences
Imagine that you, or someone you love, has felt the pain of some really harsh consequences – all because of a substance use disorder. Is it possible to move forward, heal, and find hope?
• While punishment is never preferred over treatment, can consequences such as legal charges be the intervention that ultimately ends the cycle of substance misuse?
• If treatment efforts have not been successful, can families help by changing our response to a loved one’s continued use?
• When our loved one’s consequences have devastated us, can we change our path to find our own peace of mind and recovery?
The Trouble with Alcohol
Celebrated on social media, an integral part of many sporting events, seemingly essential to social gatherings, and festively displayed at many grocery stores, alcohol is our country’s favorite mood altering substance.
We talk with clinicians and people in recovery from alcoholism about our history with alcohol, why it is innocuous for some and disastrous for others, and how to know when the line has been crossed from moderate consumption to alcohol use disorder. We will also discuss treatment options and the hope for lifelong recovery.
Cannabis. Who Knew?
Many of us have formed opinions about whether or not cannabis is harmful, if it is addictive or not, if there might be health benefits or risks, and so on. We are exploring these talking points using scientific research and data gathered nationally and locally, in order to present real conversation, real people and real answers about young people and cannabis. Our goal is simple: to reduce youth cannabis use.
Navigating the Maze of Addiction & Mental Health
This program addresses “dual diagnosis” – the correlation between substance use disorders and mental health challenges. People addicted to drugs are roughly twice as likely to suffer from mood and anxiety disorders, with the reverse also true. Together, we’ll explore paths to recovery from co-occurring disorders, which can be difficult to diagnose due to the complexity of symptoms, as both may vary in severity. In many cases, people receive treatment for one disorder while the other disorder remains untreated.
The Rising Tide of Stimulants
This program addresses the current trends surrounding stimulant/psychostimulant use. Attention is given to related risk factors and warning signs, focusing on populations that are particularly at risk. We also explore the trajectory of initiation via prescribed stimulants (such as Adderall, Dexedrine, Concerta) and their misuse, as well as the use of illicit stimulants, including cocaine, crack cocaine, crystal meth and some club drugs.
Opioids are a class of drugs that include the illegal drug heroin, synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, and pain relievers available legally by prescription, such as oxycodone (OxyContin®), hydrocodone (Vicodin®), codeine, morphine, and many others. “Transforming the Pain Paradigm” takes a look at our country’s ongoing opioid epidemic, which has its roots in prescribed “pain killers.” Some pharmaceutical companies convinced the medical community, and the general public, that their pills would take away our pain. Our panelists include health care professionals who address ways that we manage and treat pain. We also shine a light on the stigma surrounding opioid use and addiction and explore options for the treatment of opioid use disorder.
A Regional Response to the Opioid Crisis
Approximately 300 people gathered at Temple University’s Mitten Hall on November 19, 2016 for an informative and interactive event that included speaker presentations, a panel discussion, and breakout groups for all participants, which were followed by a Q&A with the panel.
Being LGBTQ2IA+ & Healing from Substance Use
Social stigma, discrimination, and other challenges can lead to stress and treatment barriers that put the LGBTQIA+ population at greater risk for addiction and other behavioral health challenges. This program includes treatment specialists and those with lived experience to increase our awareness and understanding, to explore treatment options, and learn how we can support recovery.
Pathways to Recovery
There is no universal “right way” to find recovery after struggling with a substance use disorder or dual diagnosis. Sometimes we need to take a few different paths to find the right fit. We may need to engage in a combination of programs to ensure lifelong recovery. Our panel includes representatives from various pathways to recovery.
Pathways to Recovery - Legal System
We explore programs throughout Pennsylvania that support individuals with a substance use disorder who have encountered the criminal justice system. Panelists represent the Department of Corrections’ MAT (Medication Assisted Treatment) program, drug treatment courts, and other diversion programs.
Exploring creativity can dramatically benefit our recovery, whether we have a history of substance use, or have been impacted by another person’s addiction. Panel discussions and workshops will explore creative ways to enhance, celebrate or deepen our recovery! If substance use disorder has impacted you or someone you love, you’ll discover the countless paths that exist to find meaning in the journey of recovery.
Keys to Family Recovery
Many family members who love someone with a substance use disorder (addiction) have experienced pain, frustration, fear, or trauma. Isolation due to stigma and a feeling that no one understands can erode family well-being. This program explores family recovery and shares healthy strategies for healing. Panels include Rick Shugart, MFT, along with family members who have been impacted by addiction.
Healing the Traumatized Family
Family members often experience trauma when a loved one has struggled with addiction and related mental health challenges. Our guest speakers demonstrate ways we can heal and find our own recovery.
Navigating the Holidays
For many families who love someone with a substance use disorder, the holidays can be an extremely stressful time. Not only is this a difficult time for the individual who is addicted, but it’s also hard for families to watch their loved one struggling, all amid the tensions, sadness, and overindulgent behavior that is later regretted. This program helps families to manage the stress of substance use issues while maintaining peace and fostering family unity.
Professional Development/Faculty Inservice/Lunch & Learn
Be a Part of the Conversation is available school professional development workshops, or at workplace wellness fairs or lunch-and-learn programs. We will customize topics that are of interest to your audience.