A Community of Healing of Resilience in the Face of Adversity, Trauma, and Addictions

Three local organizations partner to promote hope and gain perspective

BAR HARBOR—“How many of you have had someone in your life who is struggling?” Cheryl Knepper asked from the podium of the stage of the Criterion Theater. “Raise your hand.”

The Criterion’s auditorium was silent for once second and then another and then almost everyone in the darkened crowd of approximately fifty raised their hand.  

Struggle is part of the human condition and can create healthy changes, Knepper told audience members, but you have to do the hard work to move toward that, to embrace hope and build resilience.

Ten years ago, Jena and Jeff Young’s family headed to a family education program at the Caron Treatment Center and according to Jena Young, “We were blown away. We really went out of a sense of duty” and concern and love for a family member, but came away with much more.

“We weren’t aware of how much we needed to heal as well,” Young told the audience before Knepper’s free presentation at the Criterion Theatre, October 13.

A main part of that healing—be it from addiction, chronic illness or mental health issues, trauma, or adversity—according to Knepper, the senior vice president of clinical support services at Caron, is about connections.

Adversities are family events, Knepper said, and they impact everyone in the family.

According to Caron’s website,

“The effects of addiction are intense and far-reaching. Just as addicted individuals suffer, families suffer from the deep-seated pain, stress, and turmoil that this powerful disease causes. For this reason, it is imperative that the whole family—not just the addicted individual—participates in comprehensive treatment.”

But a good portion of her talk at the Criterion, which was sponsored by Side Street Café, the Criterion, and West Street Hotel focused on hope, on building connections, and on perseverance.

“Inside each of us is a person who is resilient,” and how to find that resilience as families and community members is the core to surviving, evolving, and becoming better, Knepper said. “We all have challenges in our lives—some more than others. It’s really how to find the hope to move forward.”

For instance, she said that every day hundreds of thousands people recover from addictions and that over 23 million people are living in recovery in the US at any given time. Recovery, she said, is about attitudes, behaviors, and belief.

Knepper at the Criterion. Photo by Carrie Jones

She detailed types of addictions and their impacts including addiction to marijuana and the internet, and also dispelled myths that people believe when addictions and other adversities happen to their own families:

Myth 1 – Not my kid. It could never happen to us.

Myth 2 – We must be bad parents.

“How many people know what they are supposed to do when faced with these difficult challenges in their lives?” she asked. “Probably every single family has said to me, ‘I haven’t slept in a year because I’ve been worried sick.’”

She said it’s important for families to remember:

  • You did not cause the disease
  • You cannot cure the disease
  • You cannot control the disease.

“We all get out of balance,” Knepper said. “It’s a human thing.”

However, we can become more resilient and hopeful, creating connections and healing.

“It was really about connecting as humans and connecting as people,” Young said.

Those connections were renewed and expanded at the event.

“It’s an opportunity for us to connect and learn about substance dependence and how to create more loving connection in our families. Our goal is that this will change perspectives, give hope, and start meaningful conversations,” Young said.

Photo by Carrie Jones

Caron Treatment Center is a leader in addiction recovery and prevention. Caron transforms lives impacted by addiction and substance use through proven, comprehensive, and patient-centric treatment plans. They are dedicated to delivering evidence-based programming while treating patients and families with the respect they deserve.


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