Learn to Cope is a peer led support group for families and loved ones who have someone in their life experiencing issues with substance use disorder.
Starting in the late 1990’s, through the mismarketing and overprescribing of powerful opiates, families started to find their loved ones caught up in what has become an epidemic.
In 2004, our founder, Joanne Peterson, who as a young girl and young mother experienced family members struggling with addiction and mental health issues, started a small meeting in a local high school for families who, like herself, found themselves confounded with little help, no answers and scant resources while trying to combat what had happened to their family.
From this organic beginning, Learn to Cope became a 501c3 that has grown to 27 chapters throughout Massachusetts, a chapter in Florida, and a private, online forum that supports over 11,000 registered members. Whether it be at an in-person or Zoom meeting or conversation on the forum, families receive unique support and education from peers and guest professionals who bring hope to those who feel they have nowhere else to turn. At each meeting and on the forum, individuals gain knowledge from others that often comes from experiences they have had in their own family and the camaraderie of members who become friends. Families come to our meetings broken and leave a bit stronger. At each meeting our trained facilitators help support and strengthen our members. They learn strategies which sometimes result in long term recovery for their loved ones. In 2020, LTC started a new group called Still Learning Still Coping which offers support for families who have lost a loved one to a substance related death yet still have another loved one dealing with addiction and recovery. In early 2021, a bi-lingual LTC group was established for those where Spanish is their primary language.
LTC has collaborated with Massachusetts Department of Public Health to become the first parent network in the country to provide the overdose reversal antidote, Nasal Naloxone. Today, volunteer facilitators are trained to provide overdose education and Nasal Naloxone kits at each Massachusetts chapter. The life-saving education and the medication that LTC members receive has successfully reversed hundreds of opioid overdoses since 2011.
Outside of our weekly meetings, Learn to Cope and its members have participated in community meetings and overdose prevention initiatives and coalitions, partnering with state and local authorities and the federal government all the way to Washington DC. We have grown to include a full staff who collaborate with communities across the state, spreading messages of prevention, education, awareness, and advocacy.
Since 2004 Joanne Peterson has been the voice of families struggling to find help and support for themselves and their struggling loved ones in the wake of the opioid epidemic. This unassuming mother found the strength within herself to be heard when the stigma that comes with the disease of addiction had for years quieted the thousands of families who suffered alone. To this end she continues to work with state and federal governmental agencies to educate on the family perspective and fight hard against those who played a major role in creating the national opioid crisis that it is today.
For almost 20 years, Learn to Cope has been in the forefront of helping families. We work with government, law enforcement and the medical community to find solutions to the problem of substance use disorder and the stigma that it brings to the entire family. We help our members find HOPE and their own recovery from the family disease of addiction, and we are here for the next family joining Learn to Cope looking for the same. That's who we are.