Groups aid recovery for meth addicts

Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 29, 2006

Editor’s note: This is the seventh part in a series of stories about the effects of meth use.

By Adam Hammer, Tribune features reporter

Overcoming methamphetamine addiction is not an easy task. Just ask David Parnell, who spoke last week at the Albert Lea High School or many of the others who have overcome their battle with addiction.

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Many recovering addicts have received help from institutions such as Fountain Centers in Albert Lea. But with meth addiction still a fairly young dependency known to the Midwest, programs to help recovering addicts stay clean outside of institutionalized treatment are slim.

The Rev. Peter Soli of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Alden has realized the need for group settings to aid recovery and has called on others from the area to join in.

&8220;I really believe a lot of it has the phenomena of many support-type groups,&8221; Soli said. &8220;People who have gone through the same things bond together.&8221;

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the most effective treatments for methamphetamine addiction are cognitive behavioral interventions. Institutionally, these approaches are designed to help modify the patients thinking, expectancies and behaviors and to increase skills in coping with various life stresses.

Meth recovery support groups also appear to be effective in regards to behavioral interventions, according to the NIDA, that can lead to long-term drug-free recovery.

Soli first began putting his group together when the local Meth Task Force was formed. He set out to answer the question, what can we do as a church?

&8220;I got into it believing no one is setting off to get addicted,&8221; Soli said.

He sought financial assistance from the Blue Earth River Conference through the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America to set up and train a group to assist people in need of help. The United Way Meth Task Force also donated to the cause.

Soli took multiple avenues to find out what kinds of interventions were working.

Local law enforcement pointed Soli in the direction of Minnesota Teen Challenge which had had some success with recovering methamphetamine users.

One more redirection pointed Soli towards Turning Point Ministries. Their Living Free materials and vice president Dan Strickland led Soli and his group in training.

Strickland’s program operated on the belief that we live in an addictive culture, Soli said.

With training from Turning Point Ministries, Soli established inside groups with people from multiple denominations.

&8220;People wouldn’t have to be spiritual to benefit,&8221; Soli said. &8220;The idea is to support and help people with their addictions.&8221;

The idea is to call on the resources of the church with framing around spirituality.

Now it comes to how to offer smaller groups within area communities, Soli said.

&8220;Part of what we’re going to be able to find is where our support is,&8221; he said.

Soli believes battling meth addiction will take a concerted effort from families and communities to find instances of meth use and addiction early.

&8220;Early intervention can be a positive thing,&8221; Soli said. &8220;As a consequence you’re able to be more successful.&8221;

(Contact Adam Hammer at or 379-3439.)