PORTLAND, Maine — Mary Grove has lived in Cumberland for 23 years. For a portion of that time, her family was dealing with an invisible struggle: substance use disorder in their youngest of two sons.
"When our younger son was in high school, it was very clear that things were starting to unravel for him," Grove said.
She said early signs of a problem included the abuse of his Adderall pills, alcohol, and weed during his freshman year of high school. Then during his senior year, the situation took a turn for the worse.
"I think the worst point was when he went in the E.R. one night, and nobody knew anything," Grove said.
Grove added she and her family struggled to know what to do and how to help him until they heard about The Family Restored through a friend. The nonprofit, based in the Greater Portland area, was founded in 2014 and helps the family members and friends of those battling addiction.
"The meetings are facilitated by addicts in recovery, and each week there’s somebody who’s somewhere in recovery who comes in to speak," Grove said.
She said hearing that perspective helped her family learn how to set appropriate boundaries, which eventually helped her son. In 2016, he ended up going into recovery and has been sober now for six years and counting. Grove said without The Family Restored, that journey could have looked entirely different.
"I don’t think we would have understood that what we thought was helping was really hurting him and enabling him," Grove said.
Eric Girard is the executive director of The Family Restored. He founded the nonprofit after his own struggles with addiction and knowing how it hurt his loved ones.
"Families often find themselves pretty lost with nowhere to turn and desperate for answers," Girard said.
Girard added The Family Restored offers educational workshops and support groups for family members and friends dealing with these complicated situations. It also provides scholarships to people who need and want recovery through donations and fundraising.
"The financial barrier of getting into treatment can be the difference between someone getting well or not or continuing in the cycle of addiction," Girard said, noting treatment can be more expensive than people think.
"If you’re seeking more of inpatient treatment [or] a longer stay, [or] if you're attending any kind of insurance-based program, and you don’t have insurance, it could be as much as $10,000 to $20,000," Girard said.
So far, The Family Restored has given scholarships to 675 people, totaling about $850,000. That money has helped people like Jacob Desfosses, who got a couple of months of his housing at Portland Sober Living (that The Family Restored operates), paid for through this scholarship.
"Giving people opportunities to settle in sets them up for greater success further along," Desfosses said.
He said his decade-long fight with addiction cost him relationships, family, friends, and jobs. He said support from places like The Family Restored has helped him start writing a new chapter.
"I’m in a place I never thought I’d be in now, all because of people who gave me an opportunity and wanted to help out and truly cared," Desfosses said.
The Family Restored offers in-person meetings in Falmouth, Portland, and South Portland, and people can also join remotely. You can learn more here.