SPOTLIGHT ~ Families of Addicts (FOA) ~~ GAP Network News - February Edition
FOA was featured in this email newsletter.
Support groups, often, are born of pain. That was the case for Lori Erion, when she discovered her daughter was using heroin. She calls the addiction and its impact on the family a “devil’s roller coaster ride.” Lori, who is in longterm recovery, sought help to learn how to cope with being the mother of an addict. She quickly found that families needed safe places to come together to share. “I got to thinking that if this horror has taken me for such a ride, imagine what it is doing to those who do not know about us.” And so, Families of Addicts (FOA), a grass roots group, was born.
FOA began as a meetup.com group in October of 2013. It has grown quickly. Weekly groups meet in the Dayton area in Montgomery and Clark Counties. There’s interest from as far away as Colorado and Louisiana to launch groups using the FOA model. Word-of-mouth has helped the group grow. “They like the format,” Lori said. “People love to realize that they can be advocates for recovery and that people don’t have to live with shame.” The meeting format includes announcements and community updates, usually a speaker on a topic followed by members sharing. Speaker topics have included grief counseling, recovery issues, insurance and the myths of addiction.
Lori, a graphic designer, created the colorful smiley face logo, which she explains is about celebrating recovery and, also, finding peace and hope. When a person experiences the peace, understanding and hope from FOA, what was once dark (the background on the front of our cards) is now filled with light. She started a Facebook page and designed a website, something she had never done. She likes to say, “I’m a graphic designer who started a support group.” It’s working-- the marketing materials are easy to read, captivating and informative. Her formula for success? " Keep it positive. Keep it real. Share lived experiences. Involve the whole family. Don't push any one into the path of recovery. Don't let your ego get in the way. Minimize and do not engage in drama and play nice with everyone.”
Lori said she felt compelled to share her story and the FOA story. “I started putting our story out publicly,” she said. “I did this because I read over and over about parents that had lost their child to heroin addiction and that their message was, "Tell them that you love them and, parents, say something, so I started to say something and people are listening". Lori's story and, now, the FOA story, have aired on the Dayton ABC affiliate. The group has created a YouTube video which includes many member's voices and perspectives.
Lori believes that sharing stories promotes change and education about stigma, shame and public perception of addicts and addiction. FOA’s mission is embracing families, friends and individuals struggling with addiction in order to promote recovery, support and advocacy. The short version-- Support-- Friendship-- Education. Her hope is to launch a recovery community center, which would serve as a hub for information and recovery support. For more information about FOA, visit their website at FOAfamilies.org or contact info@FOAfamilies.org or call (937) 307-5479.