Family Members

Let us support you while you support your loved one.

When someone is incarcerated or struggling with addiction, it touches the lives of all those around them. As much as family and friends may want to help, however, they often feel powerless; they don’t know the best way to support their loved one and likely need support themselves.

Breaking the chains of
Incarceration and Addiction

Families of individuals experiencing incarceration often have to pay bail and court fees, replace lost income and child support, and more – and the costs only continue to mount after incarceration. Since it can be difficult for individuals to find employment after being released from jail or prison, it often falls on family members to provide housing, as well as pay restitution, supervision fees, and other costs to comply with parole conditions. It’s no surprise that having an incarcerated family member has been shown to increase the risk of depression, hypertension, obesity, and diabetes. [1]

Similarly, substance abuse disorders often take a huge emotional and financial toll not only on the individuals themselves, but on the family members and friends trying to support them. Alcoholism is often referred to as a family disease because, as the “Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous” explains, “it engulfs all whose lives touch the sufferer’s.” At the same time, family support can play a major role in helping a loved one overcome a substance use disorder.

A 2018 study by and Cornell University shows that 113 million American adultsnearly half of Americans – have an immediate family member who is currently or formerly incarcerated. Incarceration not only costs families precious time together, but also imposes direct and indirect financial costs on family members before and after incarceration.[1]

Based on data from the combined 2009 to 2014 National Surveys on Drug Use and Health, about 1.6 million children aged 17 or younger resided in a two-parent household with at least one parent who had an illicit drug use disorder. [2] Addiction is often called a family disease because its emotional and financial side effects are felt by spouses, parents, children, friends, and other loved ones.

Research shows that family support can play a major role in helping a loved one with mental and substance use disorders. [3]

People with worried emotion

Our Approach

Helping You Help Your Loved One

Family members of individuals experiencing incarceration and/or addiction are in a tough position because they desperately want to help their loved one but are often in need of help themselves. That’s where we come in. Our life-skills and employment-readiness programs help family members understand the challenges their loved one faces as they work to rebuild their life and give them actionable steps to take to support their loved one on their journey.

Since our experience has taught us that involving others in our goal setting provides accountability and increases favorable outcomes, we encourage individuals and their families to set joint goals for important milestones such as buying a house or paying off debt.

Program Offerings

Whether your loved one has already completed our programming or you wish to take it alongside them now through our website, we recommend that you take our three courses in the sequence presented below. Here’s what to expect:

A Path Forward©

A program designed for anyone seeking a fresh start, including individuals faced with rebuilding their lives after incarceration or overcoming an addiction, people looking to move on following a divorce or death, and those who are simply struggling to get traction in their lives. The most comprehensive of our three courses, A Path Forward© includes two hours of video instruction, and a 42-page workbook, and activities and quizzes to reinforce the material covered.

Your program presenter will guide you through:

  • Examining trauma and its impact on our behavior
  • Understanding the essential concepts and challenges of starting over
  • Defining what success means to you and what really matters in your life
  • Crafting your story and talking about your job history on interviews
  • Being part of a team and dealing with workplace conflict
  • And much more

A Path to Financial Freedom©

A program designed to teach participants the fundamentals of finance needed to function in today’s world. The course includes 90 minutes of video instruction, a 23-page workbook, and activities and quizzes to ensure participants are absorbing the material.

Basic skills covered include: 

  • Budgeting
  • Operating a checking account
  • Paying taxes
  • Applying for financial aid
  • Filling out employment forms
  • Establishing credit
  • And much more

Values-Aligned Goal Setting©

A highly participative workshop that helps people move forward following incarceration, substance abuse, or another negative life-changing event by determining their values and setting attainable goals that will set them up for long-term success. Family members will have access to two hours of video instruction, a 35-page workbook, and quizzes, activities and goal-setting worksheets they can complete with their loved one and refer back to as the individual progresses through their career and life goals.

Throughout the course, participants will learn how to:

  • Determine their values
  • Set “bedrock” and “building” goals
  • Identify potential obstacles individuals may face in achieving their goals
  • Develop and pursue a meaningful career path
  • And much more

Dedicated Support Network

We know firsthand that resources and support are just as essential for families as they are for the participants, which is why enrollment in our programming also includes:


Referrals for employment, housing, substance abuse counseling, and other essential support services.


Skills development courses, lectures and webinars.

Support Groups

Virtual and In-person peer-to-peer meetings and connections.


One-on-one mentoring for those who need additional support.

Get Started

You can access all of 2nd Opportunity’s courses through our website and complete them at your own pace. Still have questions? Feel free to email us or call us at 847-257-2713.

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Recent Success Stories

1.“Half of Americans Have Family Members Who Have Been Incarcerated.” Equal Justice Initiative, 11 December 2018,
2. Lipari, Rachel N., Ph.D., and Van Horn, Struther L., M.A. “Children Living with Parents Who Have a Substance Use Disorder.” The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 24 August 2017,
2. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration,