Saint Peter’s University Hospital launches substance abuse and addiction loss support group to help grieving families

To assist families grappling with the addiction of a loved one, NJ Connect for Recovery, a free, confidential call line for addiction and recovery support, teamed up with Robert Meyers, Ph.D., co-author of CRAFT, an evidence-based intervention program geared toward families of substance abusers, to host a three-day family training June 5-7 in the Monmouth Junction section of South Brunswick. The training, which hosted more than 40 attendees including family members, NJ Connect for Recovery staff, and other leading addiction service providers, learned evidence-based practices and new strategies to help families identify how they can play a powerful role in helping engage a loved one in addiction treatment. The hotline is 855-652-3737.

Saint Peter’s University Hospital, a member of Saint Peter’s Healthcare System, has launched the Substance Abuse and Addiction Loss Support Group for families who are coping with loss due to addiction.

The free and confidential support group meets virtually on the second Thursday of every month from 7-8:30 p.m.

Inspired by Saint Peter’s Opioid Task Force, the Substance Abuse and Addiction Loss Support Group is for families and close loved ones of people who have passed away from addiction.

The social workers at Saint Peter’s realized that families in the Middlesex County area did not have a local support group that offered them the opportunity to talk through their feelings of loss due to addiction, according to information provided by Saint Peter’s.

The support group is open to everyone in New Jersey and serves as a safe space for families to discuss their grief.

“Losing a loved one to an addiction often carries a stigma. Families are dealing with their grief, along with several different emotions, and may believe they can’t talk with other families due to the stigma,” Olivia Rivera-Marmara, MSW, LCSW, social work manager for Saint Peter’s Care Coordination Department, said in the statement. “This group is a safe space for people to grieve without being judged for their loved one’s addiction or the circumstances of their death.”

According to Rivera-Marmara, substance abuse has increased during the pandemic due to social isolation. People who are using illicit substances are struggling to get access to treatment, individualized therapy, or recovery due to the suspension of services or groups as a result of COVID-19.

“So much of the focus has been on COVID-19, but people are struggling with addiction and families are grieving. Saint Peter’s is still here to help families through the healing process and to focus on the issue of substance abuse for those who are hurting during the pandemic,” Rivera-Marmara said in the statement.

To join the Substance Abuse and Addiction Loss Support Group, call Jeanne Delacruz, MSW, LCSW, a social worker at Saint Peter’s who facilitates the support group, at 732-745-8522 or email

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