New effort aims to help families of addicts

Drug addicts are not the only ones who buckle under the strain of addiction.

A residential drug treatment center is launching a new program in Woodstock to support family members and close friends of addicts, people sometimes overlooked in organized efforts to cope with the harrowing effects of addiction on individuals and communities.

The support program is scheduled to hold its first meeting at 6:30 p.m. March 3 at the Freshwater Fellowship, 115 N. Main St., in Woodstock.

Program organizers from the Shenandoah Valley Teen Challenge, which operates Christian-orientated residential treatment programs in Mount Jackson and Basye, say a support group for families and others close to addicts is overdue.

Peggy Hauff, the outreach and development coordinator for Teen Challenge, said having an addict around the house is often an ordeal for family members.

“The addict isn’t the only one feeling the effects of addiction,” Hauff said. “The family members feel it even more so because the addict is high and doesn’t realize what’s going on.”

Addicts who quit work or lose their jobs often turn to stealing jewelry and other valuables they find around a family residence. Hauff said such behavior is often inadvertently encouraged by the misguided compassion of family members who want to help but end up deepening the addict’s drug dependency.

“The family members keep them in the house, keep feeding them, keep bailing them out of jail, the same go around of being arrested, stealing money, getting into trouble,” Hauff said, adding that the support program is intended to “break that cycle of enabling bad behavior.”

Justin Franich, executive director of Shenandoah Valley Teen Challenge, said the importance of families in recovery efforts should not be underestimated. Franich said residential treatment programs often cost more than addicts can pay.

Even when it’s affordable and practical to do so, addicts sometimes refuse to enroll in residential treatment programs, leaving family members as a crucial source of support for addicts enrolled in non-residential treatment programs, Franich said.

The new Woodstock program will be free and open to anyone of any religion who has a close connection to a drug addict.

“It’s for the co-dependents or enablers who are just fed up, and they don’t know what to do, and they just need support and hope,” Franich said.

Anyone with questions about the program can call Hauff at 325-5645 or email her at

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or