VIRGINIA BEACH — LeAnne Brant and her husband, Frank, developed and have been teaching free “Substance Use Disorders Education Classes for Family and Friends” classes with the city’s Human Services Department for the last 16 years.
“[Frank] worked in the substance abuse field for 26 years and he’s now a department volunteer,” she said. “We created this class together taking his clinician’s perspective and my educator’s perspective to put together what we knew.”
This year is no different with the next 12-hour session spread out over six-weeks — one day a week for two hours from Sep. 17 through Oct. 22.
LeAnne Brant, a supervisor at the city’s Human Services Department, teaches those who love someone suffering from drug or alcohol addiction about boundaries, borders, and emotional detachment so “they don’t feel stuck” in what she called a “family disease.”
“We look at how addiction affects a person’s development, emotions, and families — it’s not just that person suffering from addiction that has an issue; the entire family is affected, we all need help,” she said.
She also said the classes are designed to teach, not clinical, but basic information like “why people use, what they use, and how it affects the brain.”
“It’s an effort to reduce the frustration families have because what’s typical for people to say to their loved ones is ‘why don’t you just stop,'” she said.
And, because “just stopping” isn’t something those dealing with addiction can do, Brant said families will also learn how to become a “better support system” and learn about resources to help guide their loved one to a professional who can decide what kind of care is appropriate.
“So many families come to us saying ‘what he needs is residential treatment,’ and not only is that not practical unless you’re a millionaire, but for many people that isn’t the appropriate course of treatment,” she said.
With the stigma surrounding substance abuse and addiction, Brant said it can be difficult to get families into her classes, but she tries to ease the angst by allowing people just to be there to listen.
“We don’t ask people to introduce themselves or tell their stories,” she said.
Brant said often attendees will find a sense of support and comfort “knowing they’re not alone” after attending her course.
“The goal is to provide education about addiction and help families and friends understand factual information, not the myths, and provide them with tools they can consider using so their lives aren’t stuck in the addictive behaviors also,” she said.
There are about 10 people in the next class so far, but Brant said she’d be happy to accommodate more who register by calling 757-385-0800.