Pubdate: Tue, 21 Feb 2017
Source: Expositor, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Brantford Expositor
Author: Michael-Allan Marion
Page: A3


New support group focuses on drug addiction

PARIS - Debbie McGregor was so at her wits end trying, but failing, to
help a family member conquer her drug addiction without any support
that she decided to take her own initiative.

"I went through the Rambo stage, kicking in the doors of drug houses
and pulling her out - until I realized that doesn't work," said McGregor.

"Then I went looking for resources and support and finally came to the
realization there weren't any."

The Paris woman went back to school and researched the problem. She
took courses toward a certificate in mental health and addictions at
Medix College in Brantford. She wanted to better understand what she
and her family were up against.

"That gave me a starting point," she said.

With the certificate in hand, she started a support group for families
who find themselves in the same predicament as hers.

"There is a support group at St. Leonard's but I didn't feel it met my
needs and those of some other people I know," she said. "So we had to
set up one that works for us."

McGregor is the founder of COPE Support for Families of Addiction in
Paris. She was helped by her friend, Tracey Bellman.

The group started in January. It meets every Tuesday, from 6:30 p.m.
to 8 p.m. at the Paris Legion at William and Walnut streets.

"We've just started and we'd like people to know we're here for
families struggling with a loved one's addiction to come for support,"
said McGregor.

During her course work and personal research, she said talked to
several youth addicts and family members.

She has learned that 90 per cent of people with addictions also have
mental health challenges.

"There's a perception out there that using drugs is a choice," she
said. "We need to dispel as much as possible that misconception."

The National Institute on Drug Abuse states in a paper that "mental
illnesses can lead to drug abuse. Individuals with overt, mild, or
even subclinical mental disorders may abuse drugs as a form of

The paper also states that "both drug use disorders and other mental
illnesses are caused by overlapping factors such as underlying brain
deficits, genetic vulnerabilities, and/or early exposure to stress or

McGregor said she is grateful the Paris Legion offered free meeting

"It's part of our work in the community," said Andy Moran of the
legion. "It's a good idea what these ladies are doing."
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