By Alisha McDarris
For Hometown News
STUART -- Stuart author Debra Alessandra loves children and is reaching out to those struggling to understand the path of recovery their family members are on with her first book, "12 Steps, 12 Stories: Spiritual Messages of Recovery for Children and the Child in You."
After spending years seeing children in schools and counseling centers struggle to grasp the complexities of addiction in their families and learning that 28 million children live in a home with at least one parent who suffers from addiction, Ms. Alessandra decided to write a book.
The teacher of 27 years who retired from Spectrum Junior/Senior High School in Stuart in 2001 has also been a prevention specialist and drug and alcohol counselor, but in all her years of working with children she never came across any books on the topic of recovery for children.
It was when she started noticing indications of familial drug and alcohol abuse in her students that she decided it was time to pen one herself.
"As a lifelong educator I am compelled to share knowledge with children," Ms. Alessandra said.
"I thought I could write a book to help them understand."
The book contains 12 stories that correlate with the 12 steps in recovery programs. Each features a different character and a different message to help children comprehend the steps their parents are taking to heal.
"My stories are to address the uncomfortable silence surrounding the disease and to begin a conversation about recovery," Ms. Alessandra said.
She said children are often forgotten about when adults in their lives are going through recovery, but they have questions and concerns, too, which she aims to address in her book.
"Most people assume kids will be OK and they don't need to talk about it, but they're insightful," Ms. Alessandra said.
It's perfect for families to read through together and there are even discussion questions at the end of each story to help break down barriers of communication. Readers can even download a workbook to accompany the stories after they purchase the book.
It's a great way for parents, grandparents and children from ages 6-10 to work through what's happening together.
"I think families in recovery together have more success," Ms. Alessandra said.
Adults going through 12 step programs will enjoy it, too, and it's also useful for counseling centers and clergy. Ms. Alessandra is even considering making a facilitators guide so teachers and counselors can organize a program with complete materials.
The book is available for purchase on the author's website -- www.12steps12stories.com -- and a Kindle version is expected to be available soon. The Blake Library in Stuart said it will also carry a copy.