Armstrong Indiana Clarion Drug and Alcohol Commission

Families coping with a loved one’s substance use disorder and/or addiction may get guidance in a free seven-week course beginning March 18 at the Armstrong-Indiana-Clarion Drug and Alcohol Commission in Shelocta.

“I’ve been teaching for almost three years in multiple counties with much success,” said Stacey Karchner, a family recovery life coach trained by the BALM, or Be A Loving Mirror Institute.

As explained by AICDAC in a news release, “BALM evolved around the fact that those with substance use disorder are human beings and deserving of love just as any other person is. At the core of BALM is loving kindness.”

Karchner said the regional drug-and-alcohol agency is funding the course in order that family members can sign up for free.

“It’s a program a woman from Florida developed eight or nine years ago,” Karchner said. “A life-coach program, with a focus around helping families.”

Space is limited. Up to 12 people can be accommodated for a course that will include a BALM book, a handbook and a folder with handouts. Karchner said all that comes with the course.

Karchner said the family’s role is crucial, citing research that shows when the family gets well the loved one has a much better chance at getting and staying well.

For Karchner it was an 18-month training effort, followed by taking what she learned in counties in a three-hour radius of her home in State College. She’s been a life coach for 3ᄑ years, and taught the course for 2ᄑ years.

“It teaches the family to recover their peace and calm,” Karchner said, “and then help their loved ones and play a positive approach.”

She took that idea to Kami Anderson, executive director of AICDAC, which, since 1973, has been the designated Single County Authority for drug and alcohol services in both Indiana and Armstrong counties, and since 2010 in Clarion County.

“I went to do a short presentation to her and her staff about the program and how it worked in other counties,” Karchner said. “She felt it would be a good resource.”

The BALM course is the latest in a year-round schedule of activities conducted by and through AICDAC. Other programs include Drugs Kill Dreams jail experiences in Armstrong County and reality tours in the Blairsville area.

To find out more information or enroll, call Karchner at (814) 360-7590 or email