About Us – Our Story
Founder and Executive Director, Learn to Cope Inc.
Joanne Peterson is Founder and Executive Director of Learn to Cope (LTC), a non-profit peer-led support network established in 2004. Her journey started as a young girl growing up with siblings who experienced issues with mental illness and addiction. Years later, when she discovered that her own son’s experimentation with prescription drugs had led to a heroin addiction, she was motivated and empowered to use her voice to bring about change. Organically and without this in her plan, Ms. Peterson started Learn to Cope as a way to offer families the kind of support, education, resources, and hope that would have benefitted her family. Today, her son is in long-term recovery.
Funded by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Learn to Cope collaborates with communities across Massachusetts to spread messages of prevention, education, awareness, and advocacy. With nearly 7,600 members on a private online forum and 22 chapters throughout the state of Massachusetts an additional chapter in Florida, the group offers families unique support from their peers. Through collaboration with the state health department, Learn to Cope became the first parent network in the country to provide the overdose-reversal medication naloxone to family members at all Learn to Cope meetings. Today, 80 of the 200 Learn to Cope facilitators are trained and certified to provide LTC families with overdose education and nasal naloxone kits at each chapter. Through Learn to Cope, families who attend meetings receive training and the lifesaving medication to reverse a loved one’s opioid overdose. Since December 2011, LTC members have successfully reversed 50 opioid overdoses in their homes.
Learn to Cope has been recognized both locally and nationally by Time Magazine, New York Times, Boston Globe, Boston Herald, Renew magazine, A&E’s Intervention, NPR Radio and Wasted Youth series. Learn to Cope has also been recognized on WCVB-ABC’s Boston Chronicle and later participated in a documentary for the Emmy winning current televisions OxyContin Express that aired in May 2011. Ms. Peterson and Learn to Cope members were also guests on the Katie Couric Show.
Ms. Peterson has been called upon by high-level government officials, law enforcement, and educators to assist in their efforts to combat the opioid misuse epidemic. Ms. Peterson has testified numerous times at the Massachusetts State House, at the FDA and in Congress in Washington D.C. Ms. Peterson continues to work tirelessly with Massachusetts former Governor Deval Patrick and present Governor Charlie Baker’s administration, as well as Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey. Ms. Peterson is on the advisory board for Recovery Research Institute- Massachusetts General Hospital, is on the expert panel for Brandeis University and is on the panel for the Norfolk and Plymouth County District Attorney’s Drug task forces. In January 2015, Ms. Peterson was Senator Markey’s guest at the Whitehouse State of the Union Address and in May 2015, Ms. Peterson was recognized for her work where she was presented an Advocate for Action award by Michael Botticelli, the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. Most recently, Ms. Peterson participated in a community forum on substance abuse alongside former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Boston Mayor Martin Walsh and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey.