Addiction Today Radio Interviews TASC’s Peter Palanca about Family Role in Addiction Recovery


Peter Palanca, TASC Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer

(Chicago) – What do family members need to know about addiction treatment and recovery?

TASC Executive Vice President Peter Palanca was the featured guest on the August 20 Addiction Today radio program, where he offered information for families of individuals in early recovery.

Hosted by veteran broadcaster Russ Morley, the 30-minute show delved into the hopes, expectations, and experiences of family members after a loved one completes treatment.

“When someone is addicted to drugs or alcohol, family members often breathe a sigh of relief when their loved one gets into treatment,” said Morley. “Sometimes it’s an outpatient program, and sometimes an inpatient residential situation. But going into treatment is only the beginning of the path to recovery. What happens after treatment?”

Families sometimes assume that once a person is in treatment, the problem is fixed, and everyone can get on with their lives.

“As a matter of fact, they just wait until that treatment episode is finished so that they can have their son or their daughter, or their spouse or their partner back,” said Palanca. “The fact is, that’s just not how it works, and it’s important to recognize that.”

There still will be challenges and questions for the family, he said.

“One of the things that recovery certainly can do is it can help to restore hope, and it can help to restore trust, and it can help to restore confidence in relationships within the family,” he said.

“However, that doesn’t happen overnight… That’s why it’s referred to as recovery, not recovered.

There is a difference between treatment and recovery, Palanca added.

Similar to other chronic conditions, treatment begins to address the presenting symptoms of the illness. As with most health issues, Palanca explained, there are different types of treatment, such as individual therapy, group counseling, the use of medications, and some combination of these. There are also different modalities, including residential treatment, hospital-based inpatient treatment, intensive outpatient treatment, outpatient, and programs with a strong 12-step orientation.

Extending from that, recovery is a lifelong process of managing one’s health and quality of life without addictive substances.

“What recovery looks like,” he said, “is living a life, on a day-to-day basis, with improving health, improving wellness, improving quality of life that includes relationships, especially with family, but also work-related relationships, or school-related relationships… Treatment begins to teach people how to do that.”

Referencing the 3 Cs often heard at Al-Anon meetings and in other family support settings, Palanca noted that it’s important for family members to understand that “they didn’t cause their loved one’s addiction, they can’t control their loved one’s addiction, and they certainly can’t cure their love one’s addiction.”

The same is true for recovery; family members cannot control loved one’s recovery process.

Morley and Palanca discussed the fact that even as recovery begins, the original issues linger within the family. Addiction has components of shame and guilt, and “if only” scenarios that don’t help the addicted person in recovery or the family members. Managing expectations is important for family members, they agreed.

Listen to the 30-minute program here.

Addiction Today is presented by the Hanley Center at Origins.

Palanca is a prominent voice for prevention, treatment, and recovery. Based at TASC’s administrative offices in Chicago, he has worked for nearly 40 years in the field, from leading prevention initiatives to heading treatment organizations to directing TASC’s service delivery for more than 25,000 people in Illinois each year.

To learn more about TASC, please visit




TASC Public Policy Priorities

At local, state, and federal levels, TASC supports public policies that reduce incarceration and create healthier communities. Our policy priorities are to:

1. Shrink the justice system by diverting eligible people away from prosecution and incarceration and into community-based services, as soon as appropriate.

2. Create pathways for successful reentry after justice involvement, and reduce barriers that inhibit success.

3. Promote evidence-based strategies in substance use and mental health disorder prevention, treatment, and recovery.

4. Expand community capacity to treat mental health and substance use disorders, adapting to changing environments.

TASC President Pam Rodriguez serves on Governor Rauner’s Illinois State Commission on Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform, and she has been honored by the White House for advancing system-wide justice interventions for people with substance use disorders. Rodriguez and TASC Founder Melody Heaps are featured in a White House video describing TASC as a model for reducing incarceration and increasing access to community-based healthcare and recovery.

For more information on TASC’s public policy activities, please visit our Center for Health and Justice.

Chicago, Rockford, and GSU Events Shine Spotlight on Recovery

(Chicago)— In unison with several hundred recovery advocates in Chicago, Rockford, and University Park, TASC celebrated Recovery Month with rallies, walks, and outdoor celebrations.

Observed each year in September, Recovery Month recognizes that millions of people across the country can and do recover from substance use and mental health disorders. Sponsored nationally by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the 2015 observance featured more than 1,000 local events across the country.

In Illinois, through the annual Recovery Walk at Governors State University (GSU), Outside the Walls celebration in Chicago, and Rally for Recovery in Rockford, TASC clients, staff, friends, and colleagues shared community resources and elevated hopes and triumphs of recovery.

“Every single one of us has been affected by substance use disorders, whether through personal experience or through knowing a friend, a family member, a colleague, or a neighbor,” said TASC Executive Vice President Peter Palanca, who emceed the September 12 event at GSU. “Through our work together, we can help more people know and experience the reality that recovery is possible.”

The Outside the Walls event also was an inspiring success, with inclement weather the day before giving way to a bright celebration on September 19. “What a day!” remarked Rev. Tommie Johnson, TASC recovery support services coordinator, who leads the annual event. “There was a great turnout, a large crowd, and absolutely top-shelf entertainment… So many clients and their children remarked how they were moved, not only emotionally, but motivated to action!”

Rockford’s Recovery Rally on the Rock on September 26 drew impressive attendance as well, along with coverage from the Rockford Register-Star, WIFR, and WREX.

“The event keeps growing every year,” said TASC case manager Kate Craig, who co-organized the event in Rockford. “It’s grown from 35 people when it first started in 2009, to the huge support system that it is today.”

The 2015 theme for Recovery Month, “Join the Voices for Recovery: Visible, Vocal, Valuable!” was selected to highlight the value of educating, mentoring, and helping others in the recovery journey.

“For those who have experienced substance use disorders, we know that there are many paths of support that can make a life-saving difference—for people’s health, for their homes, for their families and communities,” said Palanca. “We thank all our event sponsors and supporters for partnership in this work. Together, we can realize the promise of recovery.” 

Members of TASC team at GSU Recovery Walk: (left to right) Ryan Dillon, Debra Hammer, Lindsey Baumgartner, Cassy Lamon, Charles Sanders, and Latina McMillan.

Members of TASC team at the September 12 Recovery Walk at Governors State University: (left to right) Ryan Dillon, Debra Hammer, Lindsey Baumgartner, Cassy Lamon, Charles Sanders, and Latina McMillan.

The September 19 Outside the Walls event in Chicago was a celebration of youth, hope, and life.

The September 19 Outside the Walls event in Chicago was a celebration of youth, hope, and life.

Friends and families enjoyed food and music at the 7th Annual Recovery Rally on the Rock in Rockford on September 26.

Friends and families enjoyed food and music at the 7th Annual Recovery Rally on the Rock in Rockford on September 26.

TASC provides informational resources at Recovery Month events each year.

TASC offers resources and information to help individuals and families seeking recovery.




Judge Paul Biebel and Christopher Kennedy Lawford to Receive TASC’s 2012 Leadership Awards

(Chicago, IL)TASC, Inc. is pleased to announce that Cook County Judge Paul P. Biebel, Jr. and author Christopher Kennedy Lawford will be honored at the organization’s annual Leadership Awards Luncheon on December 12.

Judge Paul P. Biebel, Jr.

TASC will present its Justice Leadership Award to The Honorable Paul P. Biebel, Jr. for championing collaboration and science as critical tools for advancing improved criminal justice practices. As presiding judge of the Criminal Division in Cook County, the largest unified court system in the United States, Judge Biebel engages community service providers and clinical experts to help confront the pervasive challenges that addiction and mental health problems impose on justice systems. He has led the implementation of problem-solving courts and clinically specialized probation for people with substance abuse and mental health problems, and continues to engage health scientists and community partners in addressing the complex variables that contribute to criminal behavior. Judge Biebel is widely respected for his commitment to science-based solutions that serve both public safety and public health.

Christopher Kennedy Lawford

TASC will present its Public Voice Leadership Award to Christopher Kennedy Lawford for his tireless work to promote recovery worldwide. Committed to bringing forth knowledge and enlightenment over myths and misinformation, he works in partnership with international health organizations, the US government, Fortune 500 companies, and numerous non-profit groups to advance the dialogue around addiction and other complex public health issues.  In recovery from addiction for more than 26 years, he is the author of two New York Times bestselling books, Symptoms of Withdrawal: A Memoir of Snapshots and Redemption (2005) and Moments of Clarity: Voices from the Front Lines of Addiction and Recovery (2009). He has also published Healing Hepatitis C (2009) and his newest work, Recover to Live, Kick Any Habit, Manage Any Addiction, is forthcoming.

TASC serves adults and youth across Illinois who have alcohol, drug, or mental health problems and who are involved in courts, jails, prisons, or foster care. Founded in Cook County in 1976, TASC has a long tradition of client advocacy and success. Individuals who receive the agency’s case management services, including continuing supervision and support, are twice as successful in completing treatment those who do not receive these services.

TASC’s December 12 luncheon will take place at the Westin Michigan Avenue in Chicago. To help sponsor the 2012 luncheon or to reserve tickets, please click here.

Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. Visits HRDI and TASC Services

(Chicago, IL)— Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL) met recently with staff and clients from the Human Resources Development Institute (HRDI) and Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities (TASC).  HRDI and TASC are among several nonprofit organizations that work together to provide substance abuse treatment and case management services for Illinois residents with complex social, health, and economic needs.

HRDI President Joel Johnson led Congressman Jackson’s tour of two HRDI treatment facilities in Chicago’s Roseland neighborhood, expressing appreciation for the Congressman’s support of treatment and recovery services in his role as a member of the U.S. House Appropriations Committee.

Working with a statewide network of licensed treatment programs such as HRDI, TASC places nonviolent, court-mandated clients into treatment as an alternative to incarceration, offers ongoing case management and client advocacy, and provides reports to judges and other referring entities. Statewide, TASC significantly improves clients’ success in treatment. Criminal justice clients who receive TASC case management and monitoring services are twice as likely to complete treatment as other criminal justice-referred clients who do not receive TASC services.

Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. speaks to staff and clients of HRDI and TASC. Photo by TASC staff.