In July of 2010, when Donna and Kelly spearheaded Mothers With a Purpose, a group that provides support and raises awareness for families battling prescription pill addictions, they had no idea they would end up foraging friendships from working through the pain.
The duo met when Kelly recognized Donna’s son while attending an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting with her own son. The two mothers connected and realized their children were going through a similar battle of prescription drug addiction.
After meeting for hours and crying over the agony of the opiate addictions their children were fighting, they decided to take action and to start a support group. They have asked that their last names not be used, to protect the privacy of themselves and their families.
Donna recruited other families in the community who were suffering from the same problem. The group rapidly grew from the two tenacious mothers to now close to 100 people.
"Forty years ago, addicts were seen as the scum of the earth," said a former addict, who has spoken before the group about his own struggles in an effort to help Pleasanton kids who are suffering.
"Today, it can be a child from a family that makes a million dollars. It's not someone who lives in alleys; it's your own neighborhoods."
Mothers With a Purpose meets on the second and fourth Thursdays of every month at Foothill High School in Pleasanton. They welcome anyone who wants to attend and both say it takes courage to walk through the door of those meetings to face and work through their worst fears.
The former speaker said that before Mothers with a Purpose, there wasn't really an organization out there solely for support.
"The best way to get help was to talk to another parent in the same situation," he said. "There's no place to turn — it's not like you can go to church and ask around. It's really a hidden thing."
“Everyone is hurting from something,” says Donna.
According to Donna, the mission statement of the group is to provide total awareness, support and resources to those children and families confronting and struggling with the disease of addiction.
The group, which has recently become a non-profit organization, has had overwhelming support from the Pleasanton Police Department, the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office, the Mayor’s Office in Pleasanton and the Pleasanton Unified School District.
In addition to the bi-monthly meetings and a website that offers many resources, Donna and Kelly attend local drug and alcohol forums. They often bring children to speak who are recovering addicts. After the forums, parents usually thank the pair for their candor.
Both agree that the disease of addiction, specifically prescription pill addiction, is a nation-wide problem. Locally, they say the knowledge of this problem in the schools and in the community still shocks residents.
Donna says every parent should have to go through a class before their kids start school.
“[This experience] teaches you different areas you need to balance,” says Kelly. “I look at life differently now. When it happens, you are a fish out of water. It is a life-time journey.”
Donna says her biggest challenge in starting the group has been standing up in public forums. For Kelly, the biggest challenge has been getting parents to listen.
“Listening is what is going to cause change,” said Kelly. “The only way to beat this is to educate people.”
“It is our recovery too,” added Donna.
"If I had had this education growing up, maybe things would have been different," the forum speaker said.
"I didn't even know what an alcoholic was; I just knew that I did drugs and I did it well and I loved it. Every day, I struggled with addiction but now I have tools so I don't need to do drugs. I can cope with life.
"It is all about the parents being educated," he says, noting that he knows of a parent of a drug-addicted teen who wanted to take her own life, because she didn't know what else to do and felt so desperate.
"She felt like she failed. And then she met others dealing with the same thing and at least had someone to struggle with. That speck of hope is so crucial to someone trying to stay sane.
"And this woman is wealthy," he added. "Lives in Pleasanton, comes from a good family and her son was raised with great values. But somewhere along the way, he got mixed up with some bad drugs."
Donna and Kelly say they have experienced some stumbling blocks since founding the support group. They have had growing pains and have suffered through knowing some of the kids in the group relapsed.
“Holidays can be trigger points [for those battling addictions],” says Donna.
Still, they are both extremely grateful for the new friends they have made over the last two years and of the welcome reception they have received in the community.
They are proud that National Prescription Drug Take Back Day will be in Pleasanton on April 30 and they encourage participation.
The event allows people to drop off prescription pills that are no longer needed, which keeps them out of their children's hands.
If a child ends up in a situation where rehabilitation is needed, both recommend at least six months of treatment. They believe 30 days is not long enough to get on top of the problem. They highly recommend learning about the signs of addiction so you can recognize it in your child.
“Lock up your prescription drugs,” stresses Kelly. “A lot of [trying prescription drugs] is peer pressure.”
In addition to the periodic educational forums in Pleasanton, , both women recommend using the resources available such as Alcoholic Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous and Al-Anon and to be aware that the problem can start at an early age.
To read about a drug-testing kit you can use in the home, click .