‘The Ripple Effect’ offers a new form of peer support

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Students struggling with a loved one that deals with substance abuse now have a place to receive support from their peers.

The Ripple Effect was started by two TCU students last semester. The anonymous peer support group focuses on alcoholism, drug abuse and mental illnesses.

“Alcoholism is present in my family,” said Katie Kenny, one of the founding members. “A lot of people don’t realize that alcoholism is a family disease; It doesn’t just affect the person drinking.”

Kenny wanted to start the group because of her passion to help those who were struggling with the same situation she was.

“Through The Ripple Effect and other support groups that I’ve attended, I’ve learned to deal with the alcoholism and [to] work on building myself up and doing things that are good for my mental health allowing me to deal with the alcoholism better,” Kenny said.

Caroline Albritton, Substance Use and Recovery Counselor for Alcohol and Drug Education, has worked with Kenny to develop and grow the program.

“The Ripple Effect gives an open and accepting, welcoming space to have open conversations about those things and so, sometimes students might share things they’ve said out loud for the very first time,” Albritton said.

A Core Alcohol and Drug Survey sent out in Spring 2017 found that 11 and a half percent of TCU undergraduates reported thinking that they might have a problem.

“Whatever that means to them doesn’t mean that they all got help or even [that they] told anybody that they think they might have a problem, but that’s a pretty high number to us,” Albritton said.

The survey also asked students if they have a loved one who struggled with substance abuse and it was almost 50 percent.

“I personally think it’s probably more than half, but you know, that’s why we saw the need for the Ripple Effect,” Albritton said.

There is no formal membership for the program, but Albritton said about six to seven people come each week.

“I think the goal of this group for me is to bring awareness to alcoholism and not necessarily make it so under the radar and just be open and honest and real about how it affects people,” Kenny said.

The Ripple Effect meets from 1 to 2 p.m. Wednesdays in the lounge of the Tom Brown Pete Wright Commons building on the 2nd floor.