As a self-described hands-on mom, Anne DeMarzo was shocked to learn that one of her children had a drug dependency. Eager to help not just her son but also her family, Anne connected with the Center for Motivation and Change in New York City and found assistance through the CRAFT (Community Reinforcement and Family Training) program, which teaches families effective strategies for dealing with loved ones. “We ended our therapy confident in our ability to continue improving our relationship with our son and growing our positive influence,” she says.

As the family’s CRAFT training came to an end, Anne wondered if something like the program was available on Staten Island, where the DeMarzos lived. “We were in the epicenter for the drug crisis,” she says, “but there didn’t seem to be any evidence-based solutions available on Staten Island.”

A director at the Center for Motivation and Change suggested Anne research SMART Recovery and consider becoming a facilitator. “I learned that the Family & Friends program used the same science-informed approach I had been learning,” she says. Most importantly for Anne, Family & Friends discounted the notion that someone must want to get help. “With SMART and CRAFT, you’re saying, ‘I am here to help you find the change you need,’” Anne explains.

She was reluctant to take a lead role; yet, she couldn’t stop thinking about parents who had lost their children to addiction. Anne took the training to become a Family & Friends facilitator to help others on Staten Island.

Today, the Family & Friends meeting she initiated continues to grow. Through Anne, SMART partnered with Tackling Youth Substance Abuse (TYSA), a group of people and organizations united to decrease substance abuse among the youth of Staten Island. Members use the same resources to achieve one goal. “Being a coalition member keeps me current and connected to all that is happening in our community’s drug and resource trends. I found myself with easy access to great minds and important initiatives,” Anne says.

Being part of TYSA has given Anne the chance to spread the SMART Recovery message. But she knew she would also need funding to support the mission. Anne eventually received a $5,000 grant for the purchase of 320 handbooks and 25 facilitator training scholarships. “The book had to be given to people attending Family & Friends meetings, and the scholarships will help to expand meetings,” Anne says. “Now, when I mention SMART Recovery, people know about it.”

Anne was recently invited to join the SMART Recovery NYC Board of Directors. She is delighted for the opportunity to help SMART with its mission of increasing evidence-based support and is especially eager to expand opportunities for Family & Friends. The program serves a vital ongoing need for people like Anne who want to be active participants in their loved one’s quest for a healthier life.

“My goal is for those who attend Family & Friends meetings to know there are things that they can do,” she says. “I want to shout from the rooftops, ‘You needn’t detach with love!’ You can influence your loved one’s willingness to change.” 

We send our heartfelt thanks to Anne for sharing her passion to grow SMART Recovery and access to self-empowered recovery resources in her local community.

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