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WYSO’s Recovery Stories series brings you conversations from the heart of Dayton’s opioid crisis: stories of loss, stories of love, stories of hope and recovery.

WYSO Listeners Ask: How To Help A Loved One Struggling With Addiction

The opioid epidemic has touched the lives of thousands of people across the Miami Valley. As part of our coverage of the crisis, WYSO wanted to know what our listeners wanted to know. We collected dozens of questions, a lot of them from people wondering how best to help a loved one struggling with addiction or recovery, and how to find support for themselves.

We posed some of the questions to participants at a meeting of Dayton support group Families of Addicts or FOA. For WYSO News, Community Voices producer Jason Reynolds brings us a taste of what people at the meeting had to say.

JASON: Listeners want to know what they can do to help fight the stigma around addiction.

LORI ERION: People are hesitant to admit that they have a problem. So, I mean, one of the things is: talk about it. Sometimes people like to tell you, and family members like to tell you, what you should and shouldn’t be doing. And sometimes even shun you.

BILLY BROKSCHMIDT: What I’ve learned, as far as eliminating stigma, even in early recovery, I was ashamed. I didn’t want to tell people where I’d been when I just got out of treatment. I lied. I told people, oh, I had some medical condition. So, if there’s a silver lining, it was that eventually I got to a point where I’m no longer ashamed, and it’s an asset. It’s part of my identity and it’s made me a lot stronger.

JASON: How do you help a family member, like your daughter who has an addiction, without enabling her

MIKE DILLON: Tough love. I know it’s easier said than done, and it broke our hearts doing it. But we had to set boundaries and we had to stick by them. If you’re going to use, you can’t stay here, you have to go. She lived in a shelter. She got wrapped up with a bunch of people, got in trouble, paid the price. It was heartbreaking as a parent because you don’t know what to do.

BILLY BROKSCHMIDT: In my case, I got to a point where I had to tell my mom, no, even when you buy me food, that’s one thing I don’t have to buy now, that I can take that money that I was going to go buy a sandwich with and go buy dope with it. And what’s a parent supposed to do? Let their child starve? This is what I tell parents: if you know that you’re doing it from love, I don’t want you to feel guilty about it.

LORI ERION: Parents aren’t wired to shut the door on their children. They’re just not. And it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t at some time, but we’re not wired to do it, so we need to prepare ourselves. We need to know that we’re doing the right thing, and we need to be ready for it if the outcome of doing that isn’t what we expect.

JASON: What is one thing that you wish people understood about recovery?

JEREMY BOYD: That it [addiction] is a disease. Some people don’t know how to cope with reality, so then they take to getting high. And after they’ve done it for so long, that’s the only thing they know how to do.

MIKE DILLON: And a lot of people don’t realize it. They think that people in addiction are throw-away pieces-of-crap human beings, and it’s not that way. There’s no cure for addiction, but you can work on it and put it in remission.

LORI ERION: I want you to hear, you know what, you’re not alone. If you know of someone, a family member or individual, you are not alone. There are so many people affected by this, whether it’s opiates, fentanyl, Xanax, alcohol, whatever it. If it’s a substance-use disorder, you’re not alone. There is help.

ASHLEY SIDERS: What I want people to know about recovery is that when you’re digging that hole and you never think you’re going to get out of it, you can. You need fellow people like us, fellow addicts, to help you get out of that hole.

This story was produced as part of WYSO's Recovery Stories series.