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Rehab Riviera: Addiction takes up residence on Sesame Avenue – OCRegister

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Removal, Elmo; Karli arrived in Sesame Street and her mother is addicted.

The charitable sesame workshop brought Karli's intricate story online in October. The blurry green monster, aged six and a half, is nursing while her mother is recovering and wrestling with her own strong feelings of isolation, fear, shame, and guilt, much like the 5.7 million children under the age of 11 Parents struggle with substance abuse disorder.

With the loving support of Elmo, other Muppets, and a few people, Karli learns that she is not alone, that she needs to be cared for, and that addiction is a disease in which people need help to get better.

But perhaps the most important message she hears as she takes the heaviest weight off her little monster shoulders is that Mama's suffering is not her fault.

Jerry Moe, National Director of the Hazelden Betty Ford Children's Program (Courtesy of Hazelden Betty Ford)

Jerry Moe is, in a sense, one of the creators of Karli.

Moe is National Director of the Hazelden Betty Ford Children's Program and Advisory Board member of the National Association for Children of Alcoholics. Last year while in Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport, Moe got an unexpected text: "The people in Sesame Street want to talk to you."

Moe, who spoke with the California Community Opioid Crisis this month in Anaheim, had a thought, "Who's cheating on me?"

No one, it turned out. Moe has an expertise that wanted to use the Sesame Street. The author of "Through the Eyes of a Child: Understanding Addiction and Recovery" is also the creator of "The Seven C," a children's healing program:

"I did not cause addiction. I can not control the addiction. I can not cure addiction. But I can help to take care of myself by communicating feelings, making healthy choices, and celebrating. "

It is a mantra for children like Karli whose parents are dependent. And the work hit the creatives in the Sesame Street clearly. Karlis story contains a large part of Moes works.

While some have criticized the efforts of Sesame Street and said that viewers on the show – usually between the ages of 3 and 5 – are too young to be addicted to the theme of "life and death," Moe believes that Children need support.

Once he was one of them.

"One in three or four kids out there is growing up and loving someone who is dependent," Moe said. "If you think of opioid, meth or alcohol addiction, do not think about children, but children are hurt first and helped last – it's a population we do not pay enough attention to."

Shortly after the call, Moe became advisor to Sesame Street. He calls this "bucket list stuff for me".

"We really need to guide the process, sit down with them and talk about what language we should use," Moe said.

The general mood, he added, was exciting.

"Being on the set of Sesame Street, hanging out with Elmo and trying to be that mature adult who is a child adviser was an incredible feeling." Chills. "

throw stones

At the famed Betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage, Moe hosts four-day workshops for children trapped in the addiction web. It is open to all children, he said. You do not need to have parents to attend. And Mrs. Ford has set up financial accounts to ensure that no child is turned down for lack of funds.

You start throwing a koosh ball on a string, colorfully decorating folders, and putting pins on a map of the United States to see how far some of the kids have traveled to be there. Then they talk.

Everyone who is there was injured by the consumption of alcohol and drugs by a loved one.

Counselors try to help the children separate the people they love from the disease they consume. They use metaphors that children can understand: people, even parents, can get caught like a fish and not get away with it. And being addicted is like putting rubber in their hair; Now they need help to get it out.

There is a backpack filled with 41 pounds of small stones, each of which is painted in one word: "Injured." "Guilt." "Shame." "Fighting." "Abuse." The kids were pushing for it to lift the backpack feel his book. The children are told that their parents are wearing this. Some people start drinking and taking drugs because they do not know how to get rid of it. And first the drinking or the drugs bring the bag to sleep. But when that feeling subsides, the adult has to pick up the sack – only now does he weigh more.

Children are encouraged to talk about how it can hurt to have addicted parents – the broken promises, struggles, chaos, disappointment.

"Because of the chaos and insecurity you've been through, you've got your own bag of rocks," they say. They are asked to take the stones out of their pockets and let go of the sadness, anger and fear that they have carried.

The older children are also warned that addiction occurs in families. The only way to make sure they are not caught is never to smoke, drink or take drugs.

Parents and grandparents participate in the last two days. The kids can say "I love you … I do not want you to die."

The program is referred by the child support system, courts and other treatment programs. Interested parties can get information by calling 760-773-4291.

Moe simply puts it this way: "The only difference between the children and their parents or grandparents is that these adults are the children of yesterday who nobody helped."

Restart in California

Hazelden Betty Ford officials have urged California to tighten its notoriously relaxed regulation of the addiction treatment industry, where success – and failure – stem from children.

A year ago, the Southern California News Group investigated the connections between addiction and the child support system in a five-part series of news stories. It has been found that California welfare agencies only consider 12 percent of state cases of child welfare as an addictive factor. In reality, however, this is the key to 80 percent of these cases, according to several studies and experts in the area of ​​the best interests of the child.

Moe was hired as a consultant by the state of South Carolina more than 20 years ago. They collaborated with an advertising agency on Madison Avenue that launched the public campaign "Alcohol Abuse. Substance abuse. Child abuse. One often leads to another. "California, Moe suggested, might do well to follow suit.

"Just as social assistance has to ask this question -" Is there a problem with the drug use disorder in the family? "- we always have to ask ourselves the question:" What about child abuse? "We know that these two things are related together," he said.

The initiative in Sesame Street on this subject is a tremendous step forward, he said. In addition to Karli, it includes articles on how professionals can help these children, how parents can build trust, picture books, and interactive coloring pages.

But right now Karlis story is playing in the online version of "Sesame Street," not in the TV show that's being broadcast in millions of homes.

"I hope the character can be on the air sometime," Moe said. "That was a dream of mine from the beginning."

But as anyone who has to deal with addiction knows, it's step by step.

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