Jefferson Award Winner Helps Loved Ones Cope With Addiction

REDWOOD CITY (CBS 5) – In a small Redwood City meeting room, Carol Kahm gently questioned a trio of women. It’s part of Kahm’s support group helping people heal from the pain of addiction. But the groups aren’t for substance abusers. They’re for the people who love them.

“Lot of times, they have hope for the addict-alcoholic,” Kahm explained. “They don’t really have hope for themselves.”

Kahm founded the Adapt Foundation in 2009 when her husband reverted back to alcoholism and she found there was no support for families like her.

“There’s nothing out there to help these people deal with the trauma of just loving somebody who is an addict, alcoholic,” Kahm said.

Kahm hosted the first Adapt group in her dining room. Today, she facilitates groups for about 30 people three times a week around San Mateo County. She helps them overcome guilt and shame.

Kahm is adamant, “There’s nothing you did that caused your loved one to do what they’re doing. There’s nothing you can do to stop your loved one from doing that. When they get to that point of acceptance, then they can get to the point of just loving that loved one.”

Jan Canu said Kahm taught her to set boundaries with her daughter, Alicia, a former meth addict.

“Parents feel like they have to fix. They have to help. They have to make things right,” Canu said. “Here, you learn you can’t do that. It’s totally out of our hands.”

Alicia said her mother’s boundaries forced her to take responsibility for her own actions.

“She has to remained focused on taking care of herself,” said Alicia Canu. “And it’s helped me to stay sober because I can be proud of who I am and how I’m interacting”

As Stephanie Moore’s daughter recovered from a crystal meth addiction, she turned to Kahm’s lessons on tough love.

“She knows what it takes to help these people,” Moore said. “She knows what it takes to get through it.”

Many clients say Kahm’s personal experience, psychology background, and marriage and family counseling training have helped them rebuild healthy family lives. But Kahm won’t take the credit.

“I’m not anyone special. I’m just somebody who’s gone through it,” she said.

So for caring for friends and family whose loved ones struggle with addiction, this week’s Jefferson Award in the Bay Area goes to Carol Kahm.

For information on workshops and events, or to volunteer for The Adapt Foundation, use this link:


(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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