Hundreds of people gathered in downtown Dayton on Sunday to help re-energize the community’s efforts in the fight against an unrelenting epidemic of drug misuse. Overdose deaths in 2020 were at an all-time high in the United States, and hundreds of people gathered in downtown Dayton to help re-energize the community’s efforts in the fight against an unrelenting epidemic of drug misuse.
“We hope that the Rally 4 Recovery will bring people together and strengthen our network so that we can continue our fight to raise awareness, reduce stigma, and provide support to families affected by addiction,” said Lori Erion, founder and CEO of FOA Families of Addicts. “Everything is aimed at reassuring people that they are not alone and that they can and will recover.”
Hundreds of people flocked to Dayton’s Courthouse Square at 2 p.m. for food trucks and over 60 information tables from health care, addiction services, and supportive housing providers. Throughout the afternoon, the crowd grew as speakers shared firsthand accounts of their recovery journeys.
Shanon Cochran of Kettering told the crowd how she had been in jail “countless times,” but now has her three children back home thanks to the Montgomery County Common Pleas Court’s Secure Transitional Offender Program, or S.T.O.P, and now a Mahajan Therapeutics’ program.
“But it doesn’t matter where you start as long as you take a moment and just go somewhere,” she said, echoing the theme of the year: “Perhaps it’s time.”
Mahajan Therapeutics, a company on the “front lines” providing addiction treatment, primary care, and psychiatry services, was a rally co-sponsor alongside FOA.
“Events like the Rally 4 Recovery are important both to honor those who have overcome addiction and to remind us how much work remains,” he said.
According to preliminary data released last month by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 93,000 people died of overdose deaths in the United States in 2020, the highest number ever recorded and a nearly 30% increase over 2019. Ohio is expected to have 5,308 deaths in 2020, according to preliminary data.
According to the coroner’s office, 323 people died in Montgomery County from accidental drug overdoses last year. There have been 229 fatalities this year as of August 23.
There were also raffle drawings and opportunities to network with other families and individuals affected by addiction at the event. People signed a banner to honor those who are battling drug addiction and to remember those who have died as a result of an overdose.
“To the suffering addict: As long as there is breath in your lungs, there is hope!” wrote Tracy Pederson of Waverly on the banner.
The rally was attended for the first time by Elizabeth Short of Middletown, her daughter Jordan, and Jordan’s boyfriend Robbie Hobbs. All three are on the mend.
Short has two sons and a daughter, in addition to Jordan “I just didn’t want to live like that any longer. It’s hell on earth, and there’s nothing pleasant about it.”
People in active addiction, according to Short, often don’t know where to turn, but events like the rally can help them find their way. She recently completed a clean stay at a sober living facility in Lebanon.
She stated, “It feels good to be this way.” “It can be frustrating at times because you become emotional. But it’s a wonderful sensation to be able to feel everything.”
Short said the mother of J.D. Vance, the author of Hillbilly Elegy, who spoke to the group on Sunday about how his mother’s drug use impacted his family while growing up in Middletown, was one of the people who helped her get sober. The experience inspired the novel, which was later adapted into a film.
“Addiction has impacted my family in ways that I’m sure many of you can recognize and are familiar with,” Vance, a Republican Senate candidate, said.
He admitted, “I know we’ve had some problems in the last 20, 30 years.” “I know it hasn’t always been easy for those who have come from this community. But I’d like to express my admiration for you.”
The crowd also gathered for a group photo to show how many lives are affected by addiction. The event came to a close with the release of various colored balloons that represented each person’s personal relationship with addiction.
FOA has grown to include programs for families in Clark, Darke, Miami, Shelby, and Van Wert counties since its inception in Montgomery County.
The Community Overdose Action Team, or COAT, is encouraging area residents to observe International Overdose Awareness Day on Tuesday by pausing for a moment of silence at noon to remember those who have died as a result of drug overdose and addiction.
“Addiction and overdose can strike anyone at any time. Those who have battled addiction and died as a result of an overdose are our sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters, and they are loved and missed “Montgomery County Health Commissioner Jeff Cooper stated.
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