Learn to Cope

A mutual support model, originally developed in Massachusetts, that can provide family members affected by opioid use disorder with support, reduce stigma in the community, and increase the targeted distribution of naloxone.

Learn to Cope (LTC) is a non-profit, peer-led, support network begun in 2004 for parents and families of individuals with opioid use disorders (OUD). LTC works with communities and families to provide support, education, advocacy and awareness in the area of OUD and overdose education.

The project is funded by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and currently has over two dozen chapters in Massachusetts, and is expanding to other states, with chapters in Florida, Idaho, New Jersey, and Rhode Island. LTC also provides support to over 10,000 family members nationally via an online forum. 

LTC is different from other groups that support those with loved ones in addiction or recovery in that it encourages family members to provide differential reinforcement, which is reinforcement of only appropriate behaviors, whereas 12 Step groups, such as Al-Anon or Nar-Anon, have a tradition of "detaching with love" and focusing on holistic health of oneself. Also, direct feedback in meetings is encouraged in LTC, whereas 12 Step groups have a policy of no cross-talk in meetings.  

Both the LTC chapter meetings and the online forum provide families opportunities for sharing of personal experiences, social support, and information exchange. Trained LTC facilitators also distribute nasal naloxone kits at chapter meetings and provide training in overdose prevention and use of naloxone. LTC members were responsible for reversing over 192 opioid overdoses since 2011.

In addition to peer-led support, LTC also provides monthly education at chapter meetings from addiction clinicians, researchers, policymakers, and individuals in long-term recovery.

Learn to Cope members that were surveyed reported having deployed naloxone for 44 overdose reversals.

Continuum of Care
Harm Reduction
Type of Evidence
Response Approach
Family Support
Overdose prevention
Peer-reviewed Article

Evidence of Program Effectiveness

From a survey of 509 members of Learn to Cope that met inclusion and exclusion criteria, most were white, female, middle-aged, and parents of adult male children with OUD. Typically, the LTC members went to several meetings a month, used the online resources provided by the website several times a week, and had developed a social support network with other members outside of the meeting. 88% of the addicted family members were using opioids, 70% had a criminal history, and 41% had a previous history of overdose. Nearly three-quarters of the members reported that their family member was in recovery with 30% having a year or more of recovery. Some of the benefits of being involved in LTC included: a better understanding of addiction and how to cope as a family member, an increased ability to help and communicate with addicted loved ones, and a decrease in stress and self-blame. In addition to the mutual support, LTC was also actively involved in naloxone training, with 66% of members surveyed trained to administer naloxone, 86% of which received training through LTC. There were 44 overdose reversals reported by the members of LTC that were surveyed (Kelly et al., 2017)