‘Everything changed’: reuniting families fractured by opioids

Why does it work? The two-generational approach, Tach says. “There are these positive multiplier or amplifying effects when you intervene to support both parents and children together, rather than focusing on just one in isolation,” she says.

Adds Steinkraus: “It has been life-changing for some families, where it has really completely changed their approach to how they parent.”

After graduating from Tompkins County Family Court, Dimas was reunited with her children in 2016. She and her husband divorced. She has been sober for more than seven years, since February 2015. And she mentors others in recovery.

Today, she is employed as senior adviser for People for the American Way, a progressive advocacy organization, where she focuses on reimagining public safety. She volunteers in leadership roles with community organizations including the Tompkins County Democratic Committee, Family and Children’s Service of Ithaca and the Women’s Fund of Central New York. She is engaged to be married. She has a bachelor’s degree.

“People always ask, how did you do it?’” she says. “I realized I needed help. And I asked for it. And lastly I accepted it.”

And she was surrounded by a community that offered that help, she says, through the programs of Family Treatment Court, she says. “I don’t think I could have gotten sober and built the foundation I’ve built in any other community.”

Dimas now knows all of her kids’ teachers and principals. She recently took her oldest boy, a senior in high school who plays varsity football, on a college tour. She made signs for him and cheered him on with her fiance. And on her 11-year-old’s first day of middle school, she emailed his teachers to let them know it was his birthday.

“Now they’re no longer in my way,” she says. “And I get to enjoy their journey.”

This story and video were developed and produced by Susan Kelley and Ryan Young, with support from Matt Fondeur, Eduardo Merchán, Ashley Osburn and Marijke van Niekerk. It was edited by Lindsay France and Melanie Lefkowitz.