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  • Lori Erion

FOA Families of Addicts: More Than a Support Group

Updated: Feb 15


A woman in recovery needed a ride.

It turned into a job opportunity.


Sometimes the biggest blessings come at the most opportune times. One may experience the kindness of strangers during a crisis or a helping hand when life feels overwhelming. As author Roald Dahl said, “Life is a series of thousands of tiny miracles. Notice them.”


The mission of FOA Families of Addicts is to educate, empower and embrace families, friends and individuals struggling with addiction. The nonprofit organization impacts hundreds of lives every year. For Kaitlyn*, an FOA blessing appeared at just the right moment, changing the trajectory of her day and putting her on a path to improve her life.


In December, OneFifteen, an outpatient addiction treatment provider in Dayton, opened its doors to FOA to distribute free fentanyl test strips through a partnership with Public Health - Dayton & Montgomery County and the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office, which tracks accidental overdoses. FOA Executive Director Anita Kitchen began setting up a table outside small-group meetings. As she was packing up recently, she overheard Kaitlyn on the phone, saying through tears, “I can’t believe this is happening.”


Kitchen politely asked if she could help. She learned the young woman was having transportation issues and needed to pick up her toddler within the hour. Public transportation or a ride-hailing service would take far too long. As they talked, Kitchen learned Kaitlyn lived about a mile from her own home and offered a ride.


Stigma and Substance Use Disorder


Approaching Kitchen’s vehicle, Kaitlyn asked a question that stopped the FOA director in her tracks: “Do you want me to sit in the back seat?”


“That really just shows the stigma that people with addiction experience,” Kitchen said. “It made me so sad because she didn’t know if I would want people to see her with me. I told her, ‘Absolutely not. Please, sit in the front seat.’”


During the drive, Kaitlyn shared her recovery story with Kitchen. Kaitlyn was searching for a new job and was passionate about working with people. Kitchen shared an idea: Had Kaitlyn ever considered working with people with disabilities? With Kaitlyn’s blessing, Kitchen called a colleague at a group home agency for people with developmental disabilities. She explained Kaitlyn was in recovery and had no felony charges that would preclude her from working in a group home. Kitchen’s colleague encouraged Kaitlyn to apply.


A New Day in Recovery


“I always heard God puts people in your life at the right times, Kaitlyn said at the time. “I think that’s just what happened today.”


Two days later, Kitchen followed up with her colleague at the group home agency to ask if Kaitlyn had pursued the opportunity. At that moment, Kaitlyn was standing with Kitchen’s colleague, filling out paperwork to start her new job.


As a community connector, FOA is in a unique position to help people navigating their recovery journey find resources in the community. The partnership between FOA, public health and the coroner’s office distributes free fentanyl test strips throughout the region. The program was postponed when in-person gatherings halted and seminars and conferences canceled. During a typical year, FOA representatives attend over 200 events per year for outreach to the community.


Harm Reduction through Fentanyl Testing


In 2020, overdoses were increasing during the pandemic. The test strips can serve as a key indicator to focus services in a particular area or region, according to the National Harm Reduction Coalition. A pilot test strip program found fentanyl test strips are a useful tool to foster discussion with people who use drugs (PWUD), helping them to be more informed about the drugs they are using. This leads to the adoption of harm reduction techniques, including sharing information with their peers.


For more information about FOA Families of Addicts, email anitak@FOAfamilies.org or call 937-329-2865.


* The name of the client has been changed to protect her privacy.

Written by guest writer Alissa Paolella, paolella.communications@gmail.com

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