In a typical meeting for adolescents and young adults (13-25), a Palmer Drug Abuse staff member facilitates a group discussion regarding a recovery related principle or issue. The meeting leader is usually a group member, but may be the staff member. The meeting topic is presented and the meeting is opened for discussion. For one hour, group members are able to “share” their own experience, strength, and hope regarding the topic that has been presented. At the end of the meeting, we recognize milestones in sobriety. Group members receive acknowledgment and a token for 3, 6, 9, 12, and 18 month increments. The group member then gets an opportunity to address the group with what they did in order to achieve this milestone. We celebrate 30 days of continuous sobriety with a “Monkey Fist,” which is a sailors knot tied with a piece of leather lace and can be worn by the member. The sailors knot represents a group member’s first contact with “dry land.”
A parent meeting is quite similar, but the topic is based on issues with which parents of substance abusers may struggle. The purpose of the parent meeting is to provide a safe place for parents to share and find solutions to the problems with which they struggle. Palmer Drug Abuse goals and principles are based on Al-Anon principles and Palmer Drug Abuse utilizes Al-Anon literature.
Pre-Meeting Gatherings: Prior to every meeting, group members are welcome to arrive early and socialize with other group members and staff. This gives the group members the opportunity to improve their bonds and strengthen the fellowship of the group, as well as give staff members an opportunity to give group members attention and “check in” with their progress in recovery.
After every meeting, group members are invited to join people at a local restaurant or coffee shop for fellowship. At these events, group members are able to grow together and provide additional support for each other that would otherwise not be possible because of the meeting format. Also, staff members are able to provide individualized support and feedback regarding things that may have been discussed in the meeting.
The Palmer Drug Abuse Program (PDAP) was founded in 1971 in Houston, Texas when a man named Bob Meehan, who was a recovering addict, built a friendship with Father Charlie Wyatt-Brown at the Palmer Memorial Episcopal Church. Father Charlie realized the need for a supportive substance abuse recovery program for youth and he developed a strong vision about reaching young people lost on drugs and bringing them into a new, sober lifestyle.
He began his mission at his church in Houston as a local support group. The PDAP program has now evolved into a national support program and has helped literally thousands of Austin youth become fully functioning and contributing members of the community. Since 1971, many people have continued to spread this vision and have shared their experience, recovery, love, and understanding to many more new people.
The program expanded in Houston and Dallas and quickly spread throughout Texas to Austin. We currently have satellites in 8 Texas cities, and also have satellites established in Oklahoma, New Mexico, and California.