The Holidays Aren’t Always Merry and Bright

The holidays are a time of year when families get together to celebrate, and when beautiful lights and decorations go up, desserts and big meals are made, and money is well spent on thoughtful gifts. Many people feel festive and cheerful. But for other people, the holidays can often feel sad and lonely. Whether you’re in active addiction, loving someone who is struggling with addiction, or missing a loved one who has passed, the holidays don’t always feel merry and bright.

Rage Against Addiction has created Rage Club specifically for children who have been directly affected by the turmoil and worry of addiction. Our intimate group of children come together a few times a year to participate in counselor-led activities in hopes of feeling a sense of connection to others going through the same things, and to find encouraging ways to heal. Some of the children have lost one or both parents to addiction; some have parents who are currently incarcerated, and some have parents who are in treatment centers. Most are being cared for by extended family members. To bring some positivity back into their lives, we hosted our third annual Rage Club Holiday party on Saturday, December 11th, at Buontempo Brothers in Bel Air, MD. Families came together to eat pizza, play games, and create Christmas crafts while being supported by Justin Macri and Sydney Shupe who are Young Adult Peer Recovery Support Specialists from Ashley Treatment Center. Katie Badders, LCSW-C of Living Forward Counseling and Addiction Connections Resource, spent some time with each child throughout the afternoon, talking about and listening to their experiences. It was a powerful and hopeful afternoon and is just one example of how we rely on and appreciate the support of other like-minded individuals and organizations to help children in our communities.

On Thursday, December 9th, the Rage Team spent the evening shopping for our Project Family Christmas Kids program, which serves the families in our two sober living houses, and is extended to other local recovery houses as well as to those families nominated within Harford County, Maryland and other surrounding areas. Similar to Rage Club, children can qualify in one or more of the following ways:

  • One or both parents are currently incarcerated

  • One or both parents are currently receiving or have recently received substance abuse related treatment in a rehabilitation facility or sober living house

  • One or both parents have passed away (within the last 18 months) from substance abuse

  • The child is / children are living with a caregiver due to substance abuse-related challenges

We know the holidays can be quite difficult for families dealing with the devastation of addiction, whether it’s due to financial strains or other problems, so we provide something each child needs, wants, wears, and reads, with the hope that we can brighten up this time a year for the most vulnerable in our community. We feel very lucky and blessed that we can continue these and other programs each year, and we are able to do so because of the generosity we receive in local and nationwide donations. It’s no secret that children of those struggling with addiction and those who have lost their parent(s) need to feel valued, heard, and supported, and that is why we truly believe in our kids’ programs. We want to encourage them to speak up, ask questions, and know positive coping methods as they navigate this awful disease. We hope to break the stigma, increase awareness, and help kids heal too.

For those of you who are familiar with Rage’s back story, you know that this is a hard time of year for me specifically.  For those of you who don’t know, Rage Against Addiction was founded out of the necessity to help my daughter who was struggling with a devastating heroin addiction. To this very day, I still cannot wrap my mind around the tragedy of this disease that took her life. It was a 10-year nightmare that ended for her on Christmas Day in 2015.

However, that is not what I want this note from me to be about this holiday season. I want to share the Love and Hope that we should never let go of for those who struggle because recovery is possible! I have seen it and it is amazing!

As for the Loss, there are no words I could say that would ever heal those of us who have experienced this complicated grief, but I would like to share the Hope that I feel with others who grieve the deadly outcome of this disease. In our grief, there will always be tiny glimpses of our loved ones all around us each day.

“They are the cardinal on a snowy day and the crescent moon on a winter’s night. They are a spring butterfly in flight.”

The above is an excerpt from my children’s book ‘Christmas Angel’ which is available here on Amazon.

Our Media Year In Review

During 2021, Rage Against Addiction was asked by multiple media sources to share our stories and events. We want to extend our appreciation to those media outlets that welcomed us and allowed us to spread awareness in and around the Harford County, MD areas.

We have a weekly running podcast with Rich Bennett of Harford County Living where we talk about anything related to addiction, loss, and recovery. We are currently in Season Two; tune in to past podcasts to hear about Rage throughout the year.

Our Virtual Memory Walk / Recovery Run 2021 was featured many times this past spring. Check out some of the coverage we received!

March:

‘Rage Against Addiction Holds Virtual Memory Walk Starting April 1’ – CBS Baltimore

‘Rage Against Addiction hosts interactive virtual run/walk to help addicts find a path to recovery’ – WMAR Baltimore

‘Rage Against Addiction’s Virtual Memory Walk / Run PSA’ – Harford TV

April:

Harford County’s Rage Against Addiction hosting virtual Memory Walk/Run throughout April’ – The Baltimore Sun

November:

‘Rage Against Addiction‘ – Harford MagaScene

Community Resources

Addiction Connections Resource: A non-profit organization that assists with providing resources and support for addiction treatment and that educates the community about substance abuse disorder. Located in Fallston, MD. Please visit here or call 443-417-7810 for more information. 

Ashley Addiction Treatment: An inpatient treatment center that personalizes clinical programs based on individual need. Located in Havre De Grace, MD. Please visit here or call 800-799-4673 for information about online and in-person meeting services.

Celebrate Recovery: A local support group for those with addictive behaviors. Located in Bel Air, MD and Joppa, MD. ​

  • 5:45pm every Thursday at Mt. Zion Church – 1643 Churchville Road, Bel Air, MD 21015. Contact lheitmuller@zoominternet.net or visit here for more information about meetings.

  • Mountain Christian Church in Joppa, MD: Please register here to join. *Please check out the updated information regarding meeting details.*

GRASP (Grief Recovery After a Substance Passing): A local support group for those who have lost someone to addiction. 

  • 7:00pm on the 2nd Wednesday of each month. 

  • Located in the Education Building at Mt. Zion Church – 1643 Churchville Road, Bel Air, MD 21015

  • Contact lisa.craig4@verizon.net for more information.

  • The private national Facebook group is available. Please visit here to ask to join.

The Klein Family Harford Crisis Center: A clinic that provides immediate care for mental health and addiction. Located in Bel Air, MD. Please visit here or call 410-874-0711 for information about online and in-person meeting services.

Loving An Addict: A local support group for family and friends of those in active addiction.  

  • 7:00 pm every Saturday. 

  • Located in the Education Building at Mt. Zion Church – 1643 Churchville Road, Bel Air, MD 21015

  • Contact lisa.craig4@verizon.net for more information.

We serve locally but think globally. For counseling, or for addiction, substance abuse disorder, or mental illness treatment, please contact your area’s health department, county government, hospital, or law enforcement agency.

Rage Against Addiction Programs

Daughter’s House:

Designed to assist women who are transitioning from substance abuse treatment to recovery; includes two sober living houses (Daughter’s House and Sister House) located in the suburbs of Harford County, MD. Click here to visit the Facebook page.

HALO (How to Live Without Our Addicted Loved One):

An online grief support group specifically for those that lost loved ones to substance abuse. Click here to ask to join the private Facebook page. *Please read and answer the membership questions prior to joining.

RAA ABC (After Baby Care):

Provides post-partum care packages to new mothers in early recovery.

Rage Club:

Designed specifically for children affected by addiction to help them process their feelings and learn about the disease by offering counselor-led activities, such as equine and art therapy, nature walks, and more. The group meets several times a year. Click here for more information.

Rage Against Addiction Team Members

Wendy Beck Messner

Founder and Executive Director

Amanda Buddenbohn

RAA’S ABC (After Baby Care) Coordinator

Tara Kuzma

Chairman of the Board of Directors

Rachel Bongiorno

Recovery Coach and Daughter’s House Program Director

Mia Ellis

Newsletter Writer and Administrator

Sarah Hoover

Rage Club Event Coordinator and Volunteer

Michael Nesline

Rage Club Mascot