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2017 Meetings

  • December 19, 2017 


Have some holiday goodies and share conversation with other family members who understand…..

Your participation at meetings is what fuels us forward and part of what has made Family Addiction Network such a success.

This gathering will be true to our usual format, we will spend the first half of the meeting socializing and enjoying some holiday goodies, and the second half will be devoted to our confidential sharing session. 

We have also invited all of our past speakers to share in the festivities!

If you have not been to our meetings before, this is a good time to come and meet us and see what we are all about in a relaxed and warm atmosphere! 



Rich Gore, retired Student Assistance Counselor for South Amboy Public Schools in Middlesex County for 30 years will be our speaker this month. He began his 40 year career in education and substance abuse prevention working as an In-Patient Adolescent Counselor and Counselor at the Intoxicated Drivers Resource Center, at the New Hope Foundation. One of the things Rich has learned through his experience speaking with teenagers and adults who have abused substances is, if they are going to “take away something” that they have become dependent on, they need to replace that “void” with constructive things they can visualize themselves doing. Not everyone accepts treatment who needs it, and their loved ones have to be able to gage how to navigate their own lives. Rich has lived both sides, that as a recovering alcoholic whose family, friends and coworkers were once concerned about, and as a sober person who recently discovered the death of his sister, who went missing for 13 years. We look forward to this enlightening presentation.

  • October 17, 2017

BODHI TALK - Online Video Counseling

For our October meeting we are pleased and honored to have Dave Dolan, LCADC, LAC, Rm/T and Kim Dolan LAC, NCC. Since we saw Dave in June of 2016, he and Kim got married and have created Bodhi Wellness and Psychotherapy. As well as traditional talk therapy they offer BodhiTalk which is confidential (HIPAA compliant) online video counseling and quality individualized treatment for substance abuse and addiction. BodiTalk allows the client to connect with their counselor from wherever they feel most comfortable. Benefits of this dynamic service include convenience, privacy and effectiveness. As well as treatment for substance abuse, they also offer adolescent therapy specifically designed for adolescent struggles such as low self esteem, social anxiety and peer relations. Included in their offerings is wellness integration which includes instruction for mindfulness and meditation.

  • September 19, 2017


I met Morgan Thompson a few years ago at a fund raiser for Young People in Recovery. I was struck by her presence and her professional demeanor as well as her warmth. This month Morgan Thompson will be sharing her story with us as well as informing us about the Raymond J. Lesniak Experience, Strength and Hope Recovery High School.

Morgan is a person in long term recovery and the Director of Recovery Supports for Prevention Links and the Raymond J. Lesniak Experience, Strength & Hope Recovery High School (ESH). ESH is New Jersey’s first public high school exclusively serving students in recovery from substance use disorders. Opened in 2014, ESH is a partnership between Prevention Links, Union County’s leading non-profit focused on substance abuse prevention and recovery support, and Union County Vocational Technical School District (UCVTS), one of the top vocational districts in the country. ESH provides students in recovery with rigorous, college-preparatory academics, accountability and recovery support, mentorship, and an alternative group of peers to enjoy drug and alcohol-free social and recreational activities. At ESH, the culture is one of recovery, meaning abstinence and working toward bettering ourselves. Last June, five seniors graduated from ESH, all of them going on to some form of post-secondary higher education. ESH graduates have been accepted to a number of prestigious universities, including Rutgers University, Montclair State University, and Rider University. Staff and students at ESH look forward to beginning their third full school year on September 7th.

  • August 15, 2017



Our speaker for this month is Donna DeStefano, Founder of P.I.C.K. (Parents in Connection for Kids, Inc.) A not for profit 501c3 corporation. P.I.C.K is a prevention, treatment and recovery resource for parents, children, professionals and the general public who are seeking information and data on substance use disorders, mental health, suicide, general wellness and much more. 

Donna created as a vehicle to help families who are struggling with substance use disorder, after she and her family lived through their own journey with one of her daughters. She also writes a blog where she posts current drug trends and relevant information. Donna will share her story from the perspective of a parent, how she became involved with advocacy as a result and suggestions for self-care based on what worked for her.
Her background and contributions in the industry speak volumes about the person she is and we are honored to have her come and share her wisdom with us! 

Among her many accomplishments, most recently she created a NJ Recovery Support License Plate, Bill A-5061 which was introduced in July, 2017 by Assemblyman Sean Kean. If passed this bill will bring a sorely needed sustainable funding model for sober living and homelessness due to a substance use disorder. Prior to her role at P.I.C.K Awareness, Donna was the director of Community Relations for RWJ/Barnabas Health, Institute for Prevention, where she helped develop, implement and market fee for service programs. She was also instrumental in helping write and execute the OORP (Opioid Overdose Recovery Program) grant that is now helping Narcan reversed individuals get treatment for opioid abuse in Monmouth and Ocean Counties.

Additionally, she has been featured on many prevention videos and has participated in numerous public speaking events presenting on current drug trends, prevention efforts, signs and symptoms and how entire families struggle when a loved one has this disease. She has collaborated with The Partnership of Drug Free N.J., the DEA and the Attorney General’s office to educate Dentists and Doctors on responsible prescribing of medications. Her professional history and affiliations include Project Director/ Community Development Specialist for the Prevention Coalition of Monmouth County in 2011 where she spearheaded and obtained funding for “The Prevention Works Project”, appointed member of the GCADA, Governor’s Council of Alcohol and Drug Abuse, the Stakeholder’s Communication Group for Mental Health and Addiction in Trenton, Vice Chair of the Ocean County Opiate Task Force, the CAC (Citizen’s Advisory Council) in Trenton, D.A.R.T. Coalition of Ocean County, PCMC (Prevention Coalition of Monmouth County), The Monmouth County Heroin Roundtable and the Drug and Alcohol Coordinator for the Rumson-Fair Haven Community Alliance. She received the Excellence In Prevention Award from Prevention First and in 2010 received the Commitment to Youth Award at the Mrs. New Jersey America Pageant and won the title of Mrs. New Jersey Globe 2014 where she promoted the W.I.N. (Woman In Need) Foundation to empower women. 

We are looking forward to Donna’s presentation and hope you will be able to join us!

  • July 18, 2017



This month we are fortunate to have Mariel Hufnagel as our presenter.  She will share her personal experience regarding the important role of a parents’ love, while a child is suffering from addiction.


She will share how her mother’s unconditional love during the time of her active addiction saved her life.  Mariel will examine the pros and cons of tough love, the idea of enabling and look at healthy boundaries and how/when to set them.  Understandably, when a child is in the thralls of addiction – helping them to access care and then maintain/sustain long term recovery can be a challenge.  In hopes of making this task seem less daunting; Mariel will help to review the process – defining different levels of care, explaining different pathways of recovery and touching on what recovery support services are and their importance.  Mariel’s presentation will be interactive, with dialogue and exercises to prompt self- discovery.


Mariel battled with alcohol and drug addiction, bipolar disorder and bulimia nervosa for most of her teenage years – leaving her bankrupt emotionally, financially, physically and spiritually.  She is formerly incarcerated, a convicted felon, formerly homeless and a sex trafficking survivor.  Mariel entered recovery in May of 2007 and has maintained abstinence-based-long term recovery since then.  In an effort to bring a face and a voice to recovery – Mariel has immersed herself wholeheartedly in mental health, addiction and criminal justice reform work since 2012.  She believes in health equity, person centered systems of care and the importance of addiction recovery support and is currently a full-time student with a 3.91 GPA on a full scholarship to Kean university seeking her Master’s in Public Administration.


Mariel attributes her personal and professional success to returning to school and believes that education is the great equalizer and as such is currently the Executive Director of The Ammon Foundation.  She previously worked as an Advocacy Organizer with the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence – New Jersey (NCADD-NJ) and as the National Chapter Department Manager for Young People in Recovery.  Additionally, Mariel is a freelance consultant, motivational speaker and sits on various boards and coalitions.  She is recognized locally and nationally with numerous awards and featured by many media outlets.  She is nationally recognized as a dynamic and passionate advocate, servant leader, consultant and motivational speaker.  She is driven by her deep desire for all people to be able to access and maintain recovery regardless of race, socioeconomic status, gender identity, sexual orientation or criminal record.  Mariel is also a certified yoga teacher and a competitive runner; and during her spare time can be found traveling, meditating, drinking black coffee or laughing and snuggling with her amazing husband Anthony!

  • June 20, 2017


Who am I? Is my reality what others perceive?
How did I get where I am, and is it where I want to be?
Learning to live in the now and to live consciously helps us achieve and be the best person we can be. 
The truth can be painful.  We want to avoid it because: 
If we acknowledge it, we may need to take action to rectify it;
It is easier to believe that it will fix itself, that our family member will quit on their own;
It will bring about change, most of us are uncomfortable with change;
The outcome is unknown, there is fear in the unknown for a lot of us;
It is easier to maintain the status quo;
We may not be our best self despite what we try to convey;
Society will shame and blame us saying that addiction is a moral failure instead of a disease.

In many ways Denial is easier. 

Barbara Sherman has been in the field of addictions in NJ for over 30 years. She was introduced to Al Anon when she fell in love with a wonderful guy who just happened to be an alcoholic. At the time, she believed that she had never known anyone who was alcoholic, and he certainly did not ‘look like’ what she would have pictured an alcoholic to be. Funny how life turns out. The more she learned about addiction, the more people she knew that had loved ones who were suffering with addiction/alcoholism. She began her work in the field in 1986 when she started working at New Hope Foundation followed by 2 years at Monmouth Chemical Dependency’s Options Program while working towards her CADC and later LCADC. Once certified she continued as a Family and Primary Counselor at New Beginnings at Lakehurst before being offered a position in Community Relations, which she describes as a God sent position. Being a divorced mother of 4, working in community relations provided Barbara with regular hours so that she could be “there” for her children. She retired in 2006 and returned to work in 2008 when High Focus Centers was planning the opening of their Freehold location and asked her to come on board and represent their outreach effort in Monmouth County and surrounding areas. Barbara retired again in 2013, two years after losing her grandson to cancer, needing some time to do her own grieving. Last summer the opportunity to represent a fantastic new facility, Silver Sands Recovery, which was opening due to the passion of a Monmouth County mother (Lisa Wankin) who while at the top of her career in the fashion industry, was in the worst situation with her own daughter who had relapsed after 12 separate treatment episodes in both NJ and Florida. Lisa’s daughter got clean in Prescott, Arizona after which Lisa partnered with those that went the extra mile to keep her daughter in treatment until she learned to work her program of recovery. Through the course and span of Barbara’s 30 years in the treatment industry, she has never been so excited about a treatment program, that is Silver Sands Recovery. Barbara also feels blessed by self-help groups and has found a spirituality she never thought possible.

We are lucky to have Barbara with her years of experience, to share her thoughts and ideas of how to deal with the denial that inevitably (for most of us) comes hand in hand with addiction in ourselves or our family members. We hope you can join us for this lively discussion.

  • May 16, 2017

“One Woman's Journey from Addiction to Recovery”-

Presenter:  Jessica Purdy

Jessica Purdy has been in long term recovery since 8/16/2009, coincidentally the date of birth of her 4th child. A daughter and a mother of 5, she currently serves as the alumni director and a patient advocate at Discovery Institute in Marlboro, NJ.  She also is an active volunteer and member of Brick Municipal Anti-Drug Coalition.  Her drive to see an end to the pain and suffering that is addiction is what motivates her to be a strong force advocating for anyone in need. 


Jessica will share her story of childhood trauma and sexual abuse which caused her at 14 to be diagnosed with bipolar disorder and severe depression.  This couple with various behavioral issues led her at age 16 to be using drugs while living and working in clubs in NYC.  AT 17 she birthed her twins (the first of 5 children).  From 18 – 29 Jessica was actively using opiates in the form of heroin and crack cocaine.  Eventually, after years of suffering and after an attempted suicide prior to the birth of her 4th child, Jessica woke up to see her Mom’s face expressing pain, fear and anger.  Shortly after this she gave birth, her child born addicted but miraculously suffered no withdrawal.  It was at this point that Jessica surrendered and has been sober ever since.  What she shares is how through recovery she has healed  and continues to heal resentments toward her mother and how she has learned to process through grief and pain without self-medicating.  Her story is one of hope and recovery and we are blessed to have her as a presenter.

  • April 18, 2017

“Resolve to Love”-
The Mindfulness Toolbox ™ for Those Who Love-
Ones that Don’t Know How to Love Themselves

Presenter:  Larry Thompson, LCSW

When the person we love is hurting or desperately trying not to hurt, we the ones who love them hurt as well. The Dutch have an old saying, “In becoming a parent you have to reconcile that now your heart forever lives outside your body”. How does one maintain the resolve to love when the heart is taken to such dark and destructive places?
The observation of Interbeing in Zen Psychology and the concept of Complementarity in Structural Family Therapy speak to the same truth - there is no true separation from the lover and the beloved. There are healthy boundaries identified and an awareness of the parent’s powerlessness over behaviors and beliefs of the addict, but there is no denying the painful, terrifying and often exhausting connection. 

This presentation will offer support and guidance on compassion for self for those who are compelled by their own offering of guidance and compassion. The 3 Core Aspects of Resolve from iRest Meditation and a review of the Mindfulness Toolbox ™ identifying informal, formal, and intensive mindfulness practices will be explored and experienced. These two clinically evidenced based practices can assist parents in finding a way back to themselves with awakened awareness and refreshed resolve towards a love with balance. Participants will leave with an understanding and an invitation to create and maintain their own Mindfulness Toolbox and will be encourage to refresh their Resolve daily.

Larry Thompson, LCSW is the founder and a partner at Integrated Care Concepts in Eatontown, NJ. He was trained at New York University’s School of Social Work where he earned a Master’s Degree. His theoretical orientation is in the use of Self & Zen psychology and Psychodynamic-Object Relations theories of Psychology. He has worked in Monmouth and Ocean Counties for 17 years; was formerly the Director of Children’s Mobile Response in Ocean and Monmouth Counties, Director of Monmouth County ICMS, a previous Team Leader for Monmouth County PACT Team, and a founding member of Monmouth County Early Intervention Support Services. Larry holds post graduate certificates in Child/Adolescent Mental Health and Parent Education from Rutgers University. Larry incorporates his training in Dialectic Behavioral Therapy and Cognitive Analytic Therapy with nature and holistic approaches in work with adolescents, individuals and families. Larry’s passion for integrating a total wellness approach continues to carry over into his professional and personal life. He has recently completed a post-graduate certificate through Drexel in Complementary and Integrative Therapies, so as to offer his clients additional options for their wellness recovery.
For more info go to:

  • March 21, 2017

A Fresh Start

Presenter: Miles Logan

For our March meeting we are pleased to have Miles Logan from The Fresh Start re-entry program which based out of the Long Branch Free Public Library. The Fresh Start program provides support for previously incarcerated individuals who are searching for employment.


The program was established in 2012, but has recently been re-launched through the help of a partnership with the Monmouth University School of Social Work. The values behind the program are that every individual deserves a second chance, and recognizes the challenges and obstacles of creating a stable life, while living with a criminal record. Many individuals within this population have faced drug offenses, and have struggled to not only bounce back from addiction, but find employment.
Although the program is in its infancy, it currently includes one on one sessions with a social work intern, resume writing, job searching, referrals, and interview preparation. At its core though, the program is a place for support, especially in a society that has an unfavorable view of the ex-offender population.


Miles began working on the program in September of 2016, and has so far placed a strong emphasis on developing the program’s structure for future interns. He has also spent a great deal of time networking with government and community organizations to develop resources for ex-offenders.

Miles is a United States Army Infantry Veteran, and currently a Sergeant in the United States Army Reserve. He is pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work at Monmouth University and is interested in various fields of the social work profession, but mainly community organizing. He is interested in assisting veterans / active duty service members; addictions, especially amongst lower-enlisted military service members; and continuing to pursue criminal justice reforms and assistance for the previously incarcerated.

  • February 21, 2017

Fighting the Stigma of Addiction

Presenter: Marianne Thouret

Grieving parents share their story to fight the stigma of addiction.

Claude and Marianne Thouret lost their son, Justin to an accidental heroin overdose on December 31, 2015. They decided to be candid about their son's death to raise awareness of the current opioid epidemic and combat the stigma associated with substance use disorders. "We wanted to make a difference in the world by helping people see that you can be honest about what happened and maybe save someone else in the process."

This is a story of personal tragedy but also a discussion, from an individual perspective, of the role stigma and silence play in the decisions addicts and families make about seeking support and treatment for substance use disorders.

Claude Thouret, Jr. and Marianne Thouret are both lifetime residents of New Jersey. They met while attending Seton Hall University, have been married for 38 years, and raised two sons.

After completing their respective bachelor degrees from Seton Hall, Claude went on to pursue a career in the maritime industry and Marianne earned a master's degree in education from Rutgers University.

Claude spent over 30 years in blue water shipping. He worked for various companies with a wide range of experience including shore-side operations, risk management, and sale/purchase. He was one of the founders and Chief Operating Officer of Eagle Shipping International, before retiring in 2010.

Marianne taught at several private schools and subsequently joined the Elizabeth Public School District. She has been a master teacher in Elizabeth for the last 15 years, where she mentors teachers and provides professional development.

  • January 17, 2017

The Underlying Causes of Addiction

Presenter: Daniel Regan, Co-Founder of CFC Loud N Clear

This month our presenter Daniel Regan, co-founder of CFC Loud N Clear, will be speaking about the underlying causes of addiction, process addictions and what to do before your loved one returns home from treatment. When treating addiction; many treatment centers overlook the fact that drug addiction is a symptom of a complex issue regarding an individual’s way of processing decision making. This interruption in processing rational decisions stems from one or more different areas of concern. Acknowledgment and understanding of these underlying causes are important to the success of one’s recovery. Until these underlying causes are addressed, process addictions and ultimate relapse will occur. We will also discuss how to prepare for after care; how do we create an enriched environment where we can address these issues and implement purpose, passion and integrity.

Daniel is a Smart Recovery Facilitator, program and activities director at CFC Loud N Clear as well as currently striving to complete his master’s degree in counseling and social work. He is dedicated to relapse prevention and filling in the gaps in treatment, especially in the area of after care. Their program at CFC is a sober social group geared toward providing drug/alcohol free activities for young adults in recovery. They promote a “Sober is Cool” concept!
You can read more about Daniel and his full story at

We hope you will join us for this very enlightening and informative presentation!

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