Hope and Health group overcomes family addiction

Illustration by Rebecca Kottke

Illustration by Rebecca Kottke

The Hope and Help Support Group is a place where students can seek help by overcoming a loved one’s addiction to drugs and/or alcohol.

Barb Titus, Savannah Dettman and Lauretta Perry lead the Hope and Help Support Group that is held on Monday evenings 7 to 8:30 p.m. at RDC 301 Splitrock Room, during the school year.

Titus said the group is open, nobody has to sign in and Dettman is the student leader and facilitator.

Both Titus and Perry are there to support the Hope and Help Group.

Titus stated that the Hope and Help Group is there for students whose family members or friends have addictions.

“Not only are they [students] doing their school and their tests and their work, they’re also dealing with worries about home and what’s happening at home because somebody has an addiction to either alcohol or drugs,” Titus said.

According to Titus, Dettman talked to her about the Hope and Help Support Group because Dettman needed something when she was a freshman at UMD.

“She [Dettman] approached me and said, ‘Would I help her?’,” Titus said. “So we contacted Lauretta Perry in Health Services, too, and so the three of us worked together to get this group started.”

Titus cited that there are a lot of secrets surrounding addiction and many times people do not talk about.

“They come together and talk with other students and so that they know they’re not alone with family issues or sibling issues or friend issues,” Titus said.

According to Titus, there are so many stressors, indicating that there is something out there that could help another student to be able to have a place to talk about things that bother them.

“It gives them a chance to be able to attend their classes and know that their support here for them,” Titus said.

According to Titus, the Hope and Help Group is an outlet for students to be supported.

“There’s lots of places students can seek help,” Titus said. “But this is a support group, not a therapy group.”

Titus stated that the Hope and Health goal is to reach out and make connections with other students, but they can also resort to counseling if they need it, such as Health Services, which Titus describes as “wonderful.”

“If there’s something we can do to tell direct them in a place they can go or maybe sometimes they don’t need more personal help, they just need to feel supported,” Titus said.

Titus stated that the Hope and Help Group is there for students whose family members or friends have addictions.

Dettman, a UMD senior, said that a support group is not just for UMD, but anywhere in Duluth.

“I’m the founder and the facilitator,” Dettman said. “I thought of this idea my freshman year because I really would’ve benefited. My dad is an alcoholic himself so, I struggled my freshman year coming to college.”

Not only did Dettman attempt to figure out how to separate herself from the situation, but she also assisted her father in a loving way.

“So that’s where the idea really blossomed,” Dettman said. “But I wasn’t, like, in an okay place to facilitate myself because I was still going through so much with my dad.”

Dettman said that she reached out to Titus the previous year because she helps with the grief support group.

“I reached out to Lauretta Perry, the drug and alcohol educator on campus here about starting this group and they were, like, thrilled and we got the group up and running so that it could start this fall,” Dettman said.

According to Dettman, she figures out what activities they will talk about and lead the group discussion every Monday.

“The week before, I do preparation figuring out what topics we can discuss and then I pay close attention during group discussion to see if there’s something that we need to talk about the next week,” Dettman said.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Dettman said that they do an annual report of addictions including substance abuse every year.

“On 2017’s annual report, it was found that 19.7 million people struggle with substance use disorder,” Dettman said. “All those 19.7 million people have friends and family and they’re all affected by the addiction as well.”

Dettman thinks that the situation is important because people know that they are not alone and it is a big thing with the group.

“I don’t want anybody to feel like they have to struggle alone,” Dettman said.