Mother helping parents cope with kids’ drug abuse


Andrea Salzbrunn’s life belonged to her children.

She was the first in line to volunteer in their classrooms, she planned snacks as a team mom and spent the majority of her days caring for their needs as a homemaker in Southwest County for more than two decades.

That’s why the addiction that threatened the life she hoped for her family proved to be so paralyzing two years ago. Today, Salzbrunn is the founder of Temecula’s Parent Support Group, where she helps parents grappling with the very question she asked upon realizing one of her children had a substance abuse problem:

“What did I do wrong?”

“There were many days where I felt everything I tried to do as a mom had failed,” Salzbrunn said as she fought back tears in her new office in Temecula. “That’s tough to wrap your brain around, and that’s the common thread between myself and all the other moms who sit in these groups. You give birth to these children, you give them everything, and to think it’s going to end up like this — they are doing drugs and they could potentially lose their lives to these drugs — it’s not easy.”

These parents, however, are not alone, Salzbrunn insists.

That’s where she, her husband, John, and counselor Felicia Durling step in with weekly meetings aimed at supporting parents as they piece their lives back together in the wake of addictions threatening to tear families apart. In fact, when Salzbrunn learned of the campus drug stings that led to the arrest of more than 20 Temecula-area high school kids in December, the 50-year-old homemaker-turned-community beacon immediately turned her thoughts to parents suddenly thrust into a world of juvenile court proceedings and rehab clinics.

Many of those parents, Salzbrunn said, likely heard for the first time that their high-school-aged children had become entangled with marijuana, cocaine, LSD, ecstasy and heroin. Some people who attend the group are parents of middle school have children with substance abuse issues, she said.

“This group is something that I’ve wanted to do because we’ve walked through it,” Salzbrunn said. “We had a child who got into trouble with drugs, and we found that when we were searching for help, we as parents couldn’t find any.

“That’s the vision we have: To be a resource for parents who are filled with confusion and fear and all the things that come with the reality that your kid is using drugs. It’s a very scary place to be.”

Two years later, Salzbrunn said, she and her family are well on the road to recovery, largely the result of innovative thinking that she learned while working with Durling and the skill sets she shares in the weekly group, in one-on-one counseling and in the group’s workshops.

Plenty of parents know about tough love. Dealing in absolutes, however, doesn’t work with addicts, Durling said. Read More…

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