Learn To Cope (Published 11-5-08)
In May of 2003, Joanne Peterson faced a discouraging reality, a reality that would forever change her life. It was during this time that she learned that her son would have to serve 18 months in prison for a crime she strongly believes, was motivated by his addiction to opioids.

In response to feelings of overwhelming guilt, embarrassment, and ridicule from friends and the local media, Joanne decided it was time to tell people the truth about her son and his addiction. She understood the incredible hold the ‘disease’ of addiction had on her son and wanted others to know how powerful the grasp can be. It was during her son’s incarceration when Joanne decided to reach out to families going through similar circumstances. She established a grass roots organization called, Learn to Cope (LTC), which gives parents and children an opportunity to learn how to effectively intervene in their children’s addiction. In addition to building networks and membership, LTC has strived to expose the opiate pandemic and tried to eliminate the stigma associated with addiction.
In the last two months, the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office has hosted two LTC support groups for families of Bristol County inmates. Joanne says she emphasizes to the families who attend, “there is life after incarceration”. She comments that her son is a testament to the benefits of committing to a recovery program.

Joanne says she credits the 12 Steps Program, a program that emphasizes the importance of spirituality and establishing a network of ongoing support, for playing a significant role in her son’s recovery. Her son is currently taking college classes and is expecting his first child soon. Most importantly, her son has been clean and sober since his release from prison in July of 2004 and he continues to attend Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous meetings in the community to maintain his sobriety.

Learn to Cope has reached the world wide web, providing internet based support for families affected by addiction. Families can receive support through message boards and online discussions. Membership within LTC has grown significantly since its inception and has gone beyond state lines, reaching as far north as Canada and as far south as Florida. LTC, which has recently received state funding, will soon be establishing a crisis/resource center in Brockton, MA, where families and those addicted can receive free information, support, and referrals.

For a Fall and Winter schedule Learn to Cope at the Bristol County Sheriff's Office please contact James Rioux, at 508-995-1311.

For more information about the support and services offered
through Learn to Cope, please visit their website at

Story by James Rioux (11-5-08)


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