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Dec-08-2014 02:20printcommentsVideo

Learn to Cope Carries a Lighted Candle of Hope in Massachusetts

First parent organization in the country that are also NARCAN trainers (used for acute opioid overdosage).

Learn to Cope

(MYRTLE BEACH, SC) - Ten years ago, Joanne Peterson founded an organization called Learn to Cope to help families deal with the prescription drug/heroin health crisis in Massachusetts.

Below is a link to a video called "A Decade of Hope" describing the help families have received from Learn to Cope. I met Joanne Peterson this past April when I went to Boston and spoke at the State House and also spoke at a Learn to Cope meeting in Quincy, Massachusetts.

I am honored to call Joanne my friend and a true hero. My goal is to help play a part in Learn to Cope being set up in the remaining 49 states to save lives -- and it needs to happen sooner rather than later.

Brief history of the inception of Learn to Cope:

It was started in a small room in Randolph, Massachusetts in 2004. In 2007 Joanne began managing Learn to Cope on a full-time basis as a non-profit agency helping families deal with addiction.

Learn to Cope became the first parent run organization in the U.S. to have trained and certified parents instructing other parents and giving out Narcan at every meeting in Massachusetts weekly (currently over 35 overdose reversals).

There are now over 130 trained parent facilitators helping families at weekly meetings at 17 locations as well as on the private discussion board on the Learn to Cope website.

Learn to Cope accepts no funding from big pharma or charges fees to send clients to programs out of state. It is solely peer to peer education, support, resources and providing hope for families thinking hope was no longer an option to them.

Fund raisers to provide food and clothing to those people living on the streets because of the prescription drug/heroin health crisis.

Learn to Cope is supported by the Bureau of Substance Abuse to provide meaningful support and education to families in desperate situations.

Learn to Cope is a constant presence at the State House in Boston using their voices in support of various bills -- one being a facility in jeopardy of closing that provided in-house treatment for drug addiction which remained open.

Learn to Cope works closely with Massachusetts legislators, district attorneys, medical institutions, law enforcement and families to combat the prescription drug/heroin epidemic.

Learn to Cope has advocated for more recovery high schools to be established so young people in recovery can attend classes to obtain their high school diploma.

Learn to Cope will be organizing in the states of Rhode Island and New Hampshire.

Learn to Cope has over 6,000 family members contacting them through their website and Facebook from as far away as Australia and South Africa for help.

Here is a sampling of comments made by families in crisis on the Learn to Cope Facebook page:

Love you, without you I would be banging my head against a wall. We didn't know what to do in the beginning but with your help and talking everything through we formed a path for future members and groups.

Joanne, I am so grateful to you and Learn to Cope for all the support you give to families. We are not alone. Having loved ones suffering from addiction is truly lonely and heartbreaking, but being apart of this wonderful organization gives us HOPE. Alex and I are truly grateful for all the love and support we receive and, hopefully, that we are able to give to others. GOD BLESS!

Been there since meeting #1 and it saved our daughter and family. A place where we could learn, grow stronger, hit the addiction hard, say words we couldn't say and feel the support in the room. Lots of hard work behind the meetings but worth it to see so many family's getting their kids back. Coalitions were formed too, which helped towns to see the problem and tackle it head on. Elaine and I formed one in Abington and I'm sure there are more that sprung from our meetings all over Massachusetts. We all give back in our communities in some way with speak outs, forums and education at town, city and school events. Parents save their kids and go on to bring it out in their communities, warning citizens and changing laws by bringing it to the State House, as Joanne brings it to the federal level. Even parents who have lost kids are, bless them, paying it forward and stay active in their communities starting GRASP groups and work toward helping the homeless and so much more. Thanks to Joanne Peterson we had a place to go, when there was no place to go and that keeps on and grows today. A worthy cause.

Before finding Learn to Cope, I was misinformed, lost, and unable to think straight. From my very first meeting, things began to change in my life. I am forever indebted to the existence of this wonderful organization, and although it is, in a very real sense, a club that no one would want to belong to, I have met amazing people who have become like family to me. That has been the silver lining. I have become a better person and I have grown in many ways. Joanne's idea and grassroots effort spearheaded a whole MOVEMENT. We are strong and we will move forward with conviction and determination. Joanne is an inspiration.

"Before finding Learn to Cope, I was misinformed, lost, and unable to think straight." ...I definitely felt that way in 2010 while a drug addict is responsible for his or her own recovery, what we do as parents or even more so, what we DON'T DO to enable our addicts behavior is certainly some of the valuable information that I learned...there were plenty of bumps along the way, and it is a life long journey, but my 24-year-old son has now been in recovery from his heroin addiction for almost 2 1/2 years... this is owed in part to what I learned at learn to cope meetings... I think he would have been dead otherwise... Thank you Joanne Peterson for all of your hard work and vision

As I type this I have tears in my eyes. Tears of joy and tears of sadness. When I joined LTC 10 years ago I knew nothing of addiction, detoxes, holdings, suboxon, vivitrol, section 35, drug testing. I didn't know what enabling meant or learning to let go with love. I could go on and on. One think I learned was to never give up HOPE. You see, I am a mother of 3 recovering addicts I know without the help and knowledge of LTC and the wonderful friendship I have made along the way that I may have buried 1, if not all 3 of my beautiful children Thank you Joanne Peterson for all the sacrifices that you have made.

Always know in your heart, those of us who know you and the your tireless journey ...we know what a gift you and your work have been to our children and families.

Learn To Cope will always be a group with many heroes to me!

I can not thank you enough! You have helped my family so much and without all of LTC I couldn't have done what I did or know what I knew when I needed it! You started something that many people will try and knock down. That is their own ignorance and misery. You have a very special place in my heart.

I live in Canada. I came here desperate. I was unable to find any kind of online support system that was Canada based. I thought that it would be better to try within my own country because of different rules and regulations regarding the law. But I soon realized that it doesn't matter where you are from. People embraced me here and gave me the advice and comfort I so badly needed. My son is now in a recovery society home and I'm hopeful. Without the wise advice I received on this forum I don't know how long or even if we would have got to this place. This website is an extremely valuable source for people like me. So thank you "Learn To Cope" with all of my heart for being there for me.

There are organizations and federal agencies such as the FDA who allude to carrying candles of hope which are unlit to families losing loved ones every day to a pharma/physician generated opioid/heroin epidemic. Learn to Cope carries their candles with a flame of hope burning brightly.

Now let's get to work and set up Learn to Copes in every state to treat this epidemic that is destroying a generation of our young people and destroying families.

LP -- For putting the "thanks" in Thanksgiving not only for me but also others who love you.


Here is a link to Learn to Cope's website and Facebook page: &


Marianne Skolek is an Investigative Reporter focusing on the Prescription Opioid/Heroin Epidemic in the U.S. and Canada. In particular, Marianne has covered the criminal marketing of OxyContin going back to 1999 and continuing to the present.

In 2002, Marianne lost her daughter, Jill to prescribed OxyContin which her physician referred to as "mobility in a bottle." It was, in fact, death in a bottle. After doing extensive research on the maker of OxyContin, Purdue Pharma, Marianne began working with the Department of Justice in Virginia in their criminal investigation into Purdue Pharma and in July 2007 was asked by the U.S. Attorney John Brownlee prosecuting the case to testify against the three CEO's of Purdue Pharma, Michael Friedman, Paul Goldenheim, MD and Howard Udell, Chief Counsel. The CEO's pleaded guilty to misleading the medical profession about the dangers of OxyContin. Marianne also testified against Purdue Pharma at a Judiciary Hearing of the U.S. Senate in July 2007.

Marianne's research, writing and contact with government agencies and attorneys has also exposed the heavily funded pain foundations set up by the pharmaceutical industry and their paid physician spokespersons who convinced the medical boards in 50 states and Canada that dangerous opioids such as OxyContin were less likely to be addictive. These physicians also downplayed the risks of addictive opioids in books as authors. These books are still available for sale and promoted to the medical profession.

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Sean Flynn was a photojournalist in Vietnam, taken captive in 1970 in Cambodia and never seen again.