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Families struggling with substance use can now find support in Andover as part of a regular mutual support group.

“Thrive! Family Support” now has a group that meets 6:30-8 p.m. Tuesdays at Andover Christian Church (16045 Nightingale St.).

The group offers topics for members to discuss and uses evidence-based best practices, director Pam Lanhart said. Topics include understanding identity and breaking a chaotic cycle.

“They (the meetings) provide knowledge, and they provide actionable solutions so that aside from just getting good information you walk away with some helpful tools,” Lanhart said.

Most lessons are geared toward recovery, while teaching families how to love and also maintain safe boundaries.

“What we’re trying to do in our group is really help people understand how to interact effectively with someone who is struggling and change the way that they view the disease of addiction,” Lanhart said.

Thrive functions as a free resource for families to learn either how to deal with substance abuse or connect with nearby resources, including a help line. It’s a good resource for families first coming to terms with substance-use issues, according to Lanhart.

A simple Google search for treatment centers can turn up organizations from Florida, California or even Thailand, and families can have difficulty finding safe, effective options.

“People ... in their most vulnerable moments can really be subject to predatory practices by unethical, really unethical people,” Lanhart said.

In a scheme called body brokering, predatory organizations sometimes convince people to fly out for treatment in locations across the country, like Florida or California, Lanhart said.

Operators of those organizations usually make money by billing their patients’ insurance.

Thrive vets programs by visiting sites and meeting with staff to determine if they’re safe for victims of substance use disorders.

“We operate independently of any treatment centers or providers, which means that we can ... be objective and give them the best options,” Lanhart said.

Lanhart became invested in organizing family support when her own son started suffering from substance abuse. She described her family as a typical suburban family. She and her husband, Paul, tried to do all the things parents should do.

“We ate family dinners together, we went camping together and we checked all the parenting boxes, and when my son was 13 years old, he showed up at school with a backpack full of pills,” Lanhart said.

Thrive runs meetings across the state, and two online meetings, for families struggling with substance abuse. It is partnered with Breakthrough Ministries, a Twin Cities-based Christian organization.

For more information on Thrive, visit thrivefamilysupport.org or call the help line at 844-349-2911.

connor.cummiskey@ecm-inc.com

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