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Parents Looking for Help with Kids Using Drugs Get a Hotline and Maybe a Coach

Parents across the state struggling to help a child with a substance abuse problem have a new resource that can connect them with someone who has been in a similar situation.

There's a hotline from the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids that can connect parents, or other caretakers of children up to age 30, to other parents who have dealt children with substance abuse issues.

There's a need for parent support networks because of Tennessee's "mature" opioid abuse problem, said Marcia Lee Taylor, chief policy officer for the national partnership. It's one of the first states to get the option for parent-to-parent support.

The hotline is for anyone with questions about how to help someone with any kind of drug problem, whether it's heroin, marijuana, opioids or something else, said Kristina Clark, the Tennessee point person for the hotline and co-founder of Coffee County Anti-Drug Coalition.

Parents sometimes don't know how to talk to middle school or high school children who disobey rules and use drugs.

Anyone who is trying help a loved one through an abuse problem can call the hotline. Only those who are trying to help someone aged 30 or under qualify for the parent coaches.

"Parents are always parents," said Clark.

A mom wants to be a resource she didn't have

Jacqueline Perrine lost her only son to an overdose two years ago. He was 30 and had struggled with addition and abuse for years since using marijuana as an early teen. His overdose happened right after a release from jail.

There were no support groups and the Williamson County resident tried to forge paths forward for her and her son.

She's gone through the training to be a parent coach because she wants other parents to know there can be hope and there are resources

"I never had anyone who had been there," said Perrine.

For more information:

Visit for information and a chat service

1-855-DRUGFREE (1-855-378-4373) from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST on weekdays

Early days for the hotline and an expected pick-up in volume

The hotline is in its very early days. It's gotten 10 calls from the state although volume is expected to pick up as more public service announcements and advertising goes out.

There are 30 parent coaches across the state and they've helped 18 families.

Parents — or aunts, uncles, grandparents who are caretakers — can get paired with a parent for a 45 minute to 1 hour call. Then the two can schedule six, one-hour follow up calls.

The maximum number is eight calls because Taylor said they don't want to encourage dependency.

Trainings have been held in Knoxville, Memphis and Nashville. Clark said they want to hold another in Chattanooga if they can find the funding for it.

The program is nationally funded through the national partnership, which gets funding from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, corporate partnerships, individual donations and from groups, including Hilton Foundation and the Burke Foundation.

Perrine thinks the hotline is important because parents want to be angry at kids who are breaking rules. But she learned, the hard, and ultimately tragic way, that anger begets anger. Good intentions and moments of opportunity can get lost.

She wants to help parents find ways to communicate so children can get the help the need.

"People despair," said Taylor. "They are terrified their kid will be a statistic but don't know what to do about it.'

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