In 2015, 1.56 million nonprofit organizations were working in the United States, says the National Center for Charitable Statistics. These groups work to address some of the nation’s critical problems. Not surprisingly, there are many working in the addiction treatment field.
The United States is in the midst of an unprecedented opioid addiction crisis. In 2016 alone, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 63,000 people lost their lives due to overdose, and opioids caused 66 percent of those deaths.
While for-profit companies aim to help families, nonprofits hope to fill the gap by facilitating entry to care, funding research, supporting those in recovery, and more.
These are a few of the nonprofits doing good work across the United States.
In 2017, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported 30 percent of high school students admitted to drinking at least one alcoholic beverage per month.
For some teens, that experimentation leads to addiction. Their parents must help them find their way out. 100Pedals was born of a parent’s hope to help his child.
The founder of 100Pedals, Dave Cooke, explains that his son landed in jail due to drug use, and biking seemed like the best way for this worried parent to find peace. But he wanted to do more, and the foundation was formed.
- Addiction education — Seminars, workshops, and presentations are available. These last from an hour up to a half-day, and they work best with large groups. Churches and schools have used this resource.
- Coaching — Both group and individual formats are available for those in need. The sessions last for about an hour, and they’re designed to help parents understand what addiction is and how they can help a child to get better.
- Online resources — Blog posts, video blog posts, and e-books are all available at no charge.
“100Pedals is unique to the addiction arena in that we focus exclusively on parents and other family members who are struggling to navigate their way around the chaos of a loved one’s addiction,” Cooke says. “We are unique in our approach to this as we help these family members reclaim what they have control of (their own lives and healthy routines), better understand the realities of what they’re dealing with (an illness they are powerless to overcome), interact from a place of selfless love (meeting their addicted loved one where they are, for who they are), and define healthy boundaries which heal broken relationships and maintain connection.”
The founder of 100Pedals is the organization’s main speaker, and he travels to many of his speaking engagements on his bike.
These long, contemplative trips help him reach remote parts of the country, which may not have heard the message of recovery.
Cooke says, “100Pedals is one of the few parent support programs which teaches parents to engage and interact with their loved one from a place of selfless and unconditional love. We encourage parents to trust in their love for their child and move beyond their own fears in the situation.
“What makes me most proud of our accomplishments is when I receive a phone call from a parent who shifted their behaviors from self-protection in fear to a commitment of love and acceptance, despite their child being in active addiction.
Every one of those phone calls acknowledges their joy in experiencing an honest, healing interaction with their child after years of battles and tension.
Hearing how relationships are being healed, in the midst of the greatest parental adversities, gives me confidence in our mission and provides hope for those involved.”
Cooke says parents of adolescent children with addiction comprise his main audience. But his organization has a bigger influence.
“While we counsel, coach, and love on parents of adult children struggling with substance use disorders, we are leaders in prevention and healing in the addiction community, reaching parents of children who may not yet have been impacted by substance use,” he says. “The programs we provide for parents already impacted help heal broken relationships. Imagine what is possible if we use this same approach to build healthier relationships?
2. Angels At Risk
Some nonprofits hope to change the world with large, countrywide initiatives. Others, including Angels at Risk, hope to make a difference by focusing on one small corner of the world.
Angels at Risk was founded in West Los Angeles, and the organization continues to serve LA and the surrounding communities. Children, teens, and young adults are the focus of the services provided.
Researchers say that more than 50 percent of high school students in Los Angeles have used alcohol at least once, and about 35 percent have used marijuana at least once.
If children do develop addictions, their parents could struggle to help them. The Los Angeles Times points out that four in 10 California residents are living at or near the poverty line. They may have jobs, but the cost of housing makes budgeting extremely difficult.
Angels at Risk offers six different solution sets:
- Education programs that aim to prevent drug use in teenagers
- Counselors who can speak in front of classrooms and assemblies
- Prevention programs and projects for lunchtime or afterschool work
- Training for teachers, parent/teacher organizations, police officers, and more
- Educational resources, including blogs, events, and newspaper articles
- Connections with treatment providers
Angels at Risk has close ties with the juvenile court in Los Angeles. The team hopes to reach even more young people before they commit drug offenses and land in the criminal justice system.
3. Faces and Voices of Recovery
Life with addiction is lonely. The deception required to keep a habit alive can pull people from the friends and family members they love. A sense of community helps, and that’s the driving force behind Faces and Voices of Recovery.
This organization was founded in 2001 when recovery professionals came together to launch an organization based on community. They wanted people in active addiction to know that recovery principles work and that many people live in active recovery right now.
That connection could help reduce stigma, and that’s critical. It’s common, researchers say, for people with addictions to face discrimination for what outsiders consider to be “bad choices.” That can lead to:
- Reduced funding — Lawmakers may not want to allocate funds to research.
- Fewer screenings — Doctors may avoid drug and alcohol screening tests, as they may not want to hear the results.
- Lack of treatment — People with addictions may not want to disclose the problem, as they don’t want to be judged.
Faces and Voices of Recovery hopes to reduce stigma and improve treatment outcomes through several programs, including:
- The Association of Recovery Community Organizations. This arm of the organization connects local, regional, and statewide recovery community organizations. Groups that join get access to training.
- National Recovery Institute. Trainers work within this part of the organization, and they fan out to educate doctors and addiction providers about the merits of research-based addiction treatment.
- Public policy. Officials head to Capitol Hill to advocate on behalf of people in recovery. They address discrimination, access to care, research, and more.
This is one of the largest nonprofit organizations in the addiction space. Their programs are well-organized and well-funded.
The work is mainly focused on helping officials and experts understand and advocate for addiction treatment change. But families in need might benefit from those changes.
4. Foundation For Alcoholism Research
In 2015, about six percent of adults had an alcohol use disorder, says the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. While people can and do recover from alcoholism without medication, researchers hoped for a solution that could help. The Foundation for Alcoholism Research is funding that work.
The foundation was incorporated in 2008, and the staff is small. All told, there are fewer than 10 people on the Board of Directors and the Advisory Panel combined. The donations they raise go directly toward funding treatments for alcoholism.
In 2014, the foundation offered grants to help research teams study the medication baclofen. That research could help experts understand whether the drug worked, how much was required, and how long treatment should last.
This is just one example of the work this nonprofit is doing to help people with alcoholism. Families may not be able to reach out for help in a crisis. But if a loved one has alcoholism, the work done with funding from the foundation could make treatment more effective.
5. Helping Others Live Sober
Research can help doctors and therapists understand how to treat their clients. That research can also spur the development of a new nonprofit. Work done in the lab, for example, prompted the founding of Helping Others Live Sober.
This organization was founded by researchers who discovered the value of helping in recovery. That help takes many forms, including:
- Meeting with a sponsee
- Guiding someone through the 12 steps of recovery
- Saying hello to someone joining a meeting for the first time
- Sharing a story in a meeting
- Donating money to AA or NA
The founders of this organization believe firmly in the power of Alcoholics Anonymous and other sober peer support groups. But they knew that some people weren’t comfortable with the idea of diving into a meeting.
The founders created robust recovery tools, including:
- Recordings of AA conference speakers
- Art created by people in recovery
- An online forum where people can get help and support
- Links to national and state organizations
Families that aren’t sure if support groups will help them, or those that like to research the format before they agree to join, might benefit from this organization.
Those who like to see the research behind any treatment they choose might enjoy this group too. The founders include links to published studies about their approach.
6. The Herren Project
Addictions aren’t uncommon. Even so, it’s unusual for people to get the care they need.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administratio (SAMHSA) says less than one percent of people with addictions got addiction treatment in 2014. The Herren Project hopes to change that.
This nonprofit organization offers treatment placement counseling. Families can provide information about the addiction issue they’re facing, and team members will reach out with information about what might be the right care setting.
This help could be crucial, SAMHSA says, as treatment works best when it’s tailored to the needs of the person with addiction. Care can’t be provided on a one-size-fits-all basis. It must be adjusted based on your individual circumstances.
The Herren Project also provides free 15-minute counseling sessions to families concerned about addiction. You could ask about:
- Addiction basics
What does addiction look like? How does the problem start?
- Conversation starters
How can you convince someone you love to get help?
- Coping skills
What if the person won’t get help? What can you do next?
7. The Partnership For Drug-Free Kids
When it comes to teens and drugs, there’s a lot to be excited about. For example, the National Institute on Drug Abuse says past-year adolescent use of illicit drugs (like heroin) is at the lowest level seen in more than 20 years. The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids might be responsible, in part, for that happy news.
This organization was founded in the mid-1980s, and early participants had deep roots in advertising. They created a widely popular series of ads featuring butter, a frying pan, and an egg. Anyone watching television in the 1980s and 1990s saw at least one of those commercials comparing a fried egg to a fried brain on drugs. It’s likely viewers thought just a little harder before accepting a hit of drugs when it was offered the next time.
Since the 1980s, the organization has shifted focus from television ads to grassroots organizing. They now offer direct help to families touched by adolescent drug use. People in need can connect with:
- Referral specialists — Parents can send a text message or email, or they can call a helpline. They’ll learn more about how addiction works, and they’ll get help in finding the right treatment program.
- Other parents — Peer support can be crucial for parents struggling with adolescent addictions. The parent coaching program connects families with experience to those in need.
- Motivational techniques — Some adolescents are ready to move into treatment. Others need time to make the right decision. Parents can sign up for text messages that help them convince a reluctant child to enter the right program.
There are no fees associated with any of these programs.
8. Alcoholics Anonymous
When you’re living with an addiction, professional treatment works wonders. Medications can ease cravings, therapy can offer coping skills, and group sessions connect you with support. But sometimes, your peers can teach you lessons some pros just don’t understand.
Alcoholics Anonymous is one of the oldest and best-known nonprofit addiction organizations in the United States. It was loosely founded in 1939 by people who fought hard against addiction and wanted others to do the same. Now, it’s grown into a worldwide peer support phenomenon.
AA members believe in individual control, so the national organization doesn’t set policy, organize meetings, or otherwise tell local groups what to do. But the AA world service can:
- Explain what AA is
- Help you find a meeting near you
- Connect you with the teaching of AA’s founders
- Give you daily meditations
AA meetings are free to attend, and you don’t need to register in advance. They’re held in almost every city in America, and some are held online too.
When people with addictions are paired with specialty treatment programs, healing begins. Researchers are aware of what works and what doesn’t when it comes to addressing the damage drugs can cause.
But plenty of people who need help don’t get evidence-based care. Shatterproof hopes to change that.
Help is required. SAMHSA reports that about 89 percent of people who needed addiction treatment weren’t enrolled in a specialty program. Thousands more didn’t get help at all.
Shatterproof hopes to help through:
- Advocacy programs
Laws at the state and federal level could help hundreds of thousands of people to get better. Shatterproof uses lobbying techniques to ensure the voice of addiction is heard.
- Education programs
Experts reach out to adults and children at work and school. They teach addiction-recognition concepts and help people understand why treatment matters.
- Provider ratings and education
The team reaches out to doctors to help reduce addiction stigma. Patients are also asked to rate their care, so families searching for help will have decision-making data.
Shatterproof was founded by a grieving father. He lost his son due to addiction, after spending years hoping to help him find care that worked.
The founder wants to change the way we, as a culture, view both addiction and recovery. It’s an ambitious goal, and bringing it to life will take plenty of hard work. But this organization has made great strides so far.
10. To Write Love On Her Arms
Every family touched by addiction has a story to share. The founder of To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA) had a similar tale of love, loss, light, and hope to spread. That story went viral, and it started a movement.
TWLOHA began as a community devoted to stories. People with addictions discussed what happened to them and what they wanted for the future. Families talked about their loss and their hope.
You can still share stories through TWLOHA. But now, the organization offers direct forms of help.
- Treatment referrals– The Find Help tool connects people in need with free or low-cost counseling options. Data is only available for the United States, but the founders hope to expand to a worldwide audience soon.
- Crisis communication — Families in need can send a text message to the TWLOHA crisis line. They’ll be connected with a professional right away who can detail the next steps.
- Education– The TWLOHA team offers a newsletter filled with educational blog posts and motivational messages to keep you connected with healing.