Hundreds came out Sunday afternoon for an annual event that brings together people whose lives have been impacted by addiction.
The Rally 4 Recovery — first launched by Dayton-based Families of Addicts — is an annual gathering at Courthouse Square that brings people together to destigmatize addiction, celebrate recovery, demonstrate how many local families are impacted, and mobilize the community to pursue solutions.
“We do this because we all have a simple but important message: People can and do recover,” Families of Addicts Founder Lori Erion said.
Attendees this year signed a banner to remmber loved ones who died or wore t-shirts celebrating recovering.
The first rally was held while the number of overdose deaths in the Dayton-area were rising as the opioid crisis took its toll.
While the number of drug overdose deaths in Montgomery County has declined since 2017, Families of Addicts Founder Lori Erion said there still have been 160 people who have overdosed and died in the county so far this year.
And Erion said that besides those who died, there’s also an uncounted number of residents who overdosed and survived as well as uncounted residents struggling with addiction.
“And for every one of all of those, there is a family of at least two or three additionally affected,” Erion.
Erion took a moment to name some of the challenges faced today, from a woman holding yard sales to pay for a funeral, to those needing transportation, to those who get a pay increase that means losing their Medicaid coverage for medication-assisted treatment.
There were more than 60 booths set up around the square with information for people who need help getting to recovery or finding support in their sobriety.
This year, like every year, attendees also gathered together for the “big picture,” or an aerial photo of the crowd that represents how everyone is part of something bigger than themselves.
The event is also a chance to “recover out loud” and, in contrast to anonymous support groups, have a chance to put a name and face to the different stages of recovery. At a balloon release, attendees let go of yellow balloons to show they were in recovery, red if still struggling with recovery, white to symbolize someone gone and green for mental health recovery.
Casey Steckling, co-founder of Dayton Recovers, an organization focused on eliminating stigmas and helping people reintegrate, is in long-term recovery himself and said he wants there to be a path to recovery created that is “well tread, and not incidental.”
“We can come together as a community and chose to do this, so that our kids have an easier path into recovery. And that’s already being done and that’s something we should be proud to do,” Steckling said. “There are symptoms of our illness that put us in prison. That put us without being able to get jobs and deny us housing. Those are things that should no longer exist. Because if you want someone to succeed, you can’t take away every resource and expect them to do well.”
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