Lori Erion knows about addiction. Erion is the founder and executive director of Families of Addicts (FOA), an organization dedicated to helping families who are on the front lines of the current opioid crisis.
She is also a certified Ohio Peer Recovery Supporter. PRS is a program of the Ohio Mental Health & Addiction Services. The program is a convention of “peer specialists, recovery coaches, and peer supporters.”
But Erion’s education and experience with addiction go much deeper.
“I have 12 years of my own recovery now and when I found out that my daughter was using heroin it was an animal of a different color,” she says. “And the things that had worked for me weren’t really working for her. All of the things that us families experience, the frustration, the worry, the misunderstanding and all of that what was happening to me with my recovery and still being so mystified I started thinking about all the other families that don’t know anything.”
And so she started FOA in 2013 with that mission in mind - to give families and those dealing with addiction a place to connect, to learn, and to know they weren’t alone.
“FOA turned into what was initially a support group. We started our first meeting November 6th, 2013 so there wasn’t a whole lot of time - I didn’t develop a curriculum or anything,” Erion says. “This was really all about people helping people.”
Erion likens the experience of addiction to a roller coaster.
“So what I say now is we make the roller coaster shorter and smoother but you’re not getting off. There’s all different spots on that roller coaster and they change and nothing is ever really exactly the same. The relapse last time isn’t the same as the relapse this time. So, there’s always been someone where you’re headed and they can help you with that.”
Then FOA went through an evolution of sorts. Erion says it was after she saw the feature documentary film The Anonymous People. The movie’s producers says it’s about “the over 23 million Americans living in long-term recovery from addiction to alcohol and other drugs.”
Erion says she took the film’s message - NO LONGER WILL WE REMAIN SILENT - to heart and decided to give FOA a bigger voice, to speak out about their mission and to educate others on the experiences of their members.
“We don’t raise our kids to be addicts,” says the FOA director. “We do everything we can to guide our kids, and so how does this happen? And so I wanted to educate families and I wanted educate them using people in recovery, or even if they’re not there yet, they still can help educate us on why they do what they do, and how we can best support them during the times they’re either actively using, motivated to get help, or actually in recovery.”
Now in it’s 5th year, FOA is hosting their annual Rally for Recovery on August 26, 2018. The event takes place on Courthouse Square in downtown Dayton. Last year the event drew more than 2200 people and Erion believes they could draw more than 3000 this year.
You can hear more about Erion, FOA, and the Rally for Recovery, including some important details about the event, in this interview WYSO, a media sponsor for the event.