While the primary purpose of International Overdose Awareness Day is to remember, without stigma, the lives lost by drug overdoses and to acknowledge the grief carried by the families and friends left behind, it is also a call to those who are suffering in addiction, that there is hope and that recovery is possible.
Drug overdoses killed over 5,000 Ohioans in 2020, which is nearly twice the number of deaths that occurred in 2014. The Franklin County Coroner’s Office reported thatColumbus (Franklin County) experienced a 45% increase in overdose deaths from 2019 to 2020, and an 83.9% increase in overdose deaths over the past three years. The 43223 zip code, where Lower Lights Ministries operates three housing programs, was the second-highest in overdose deaths. The overall national overdose death rate during the pandemic has been described as “an epidemic within the pandemic” as there have been limited access to medication-assisted treatment, in-person peer support groups, and the added stress of job loss and overall isolation from social distancing.
While the overall numbers are staggering and overwhelming, there is the temptation to disregard or overlook the statistics. That is until it impacts you directly. Then, it suddenly becomes personal as those numbers have a name and a face and represent a relationship; mother, daughter, sister, aunt, granddaughter, wife, friend, and co-worker.
Within the Lower Lights community, we believe that recovery from addiction is possible because of the hope and freedom found in Christ and that healing can be found in a community of authentic relationships.
Our goal is to teach the women in our programs how to build a new life for themselves so that the old life doesn’t appeal anymore. We do this in practical ways through a variety of weekly groups on healthy coping and critical thinking skills, identifying unhealthy relationship patterns, individual trauma counseling, taking parenting classes, and learning to build positive sober support networks as they move into employment and eventually independent living. Since many of the women are mothers, working hard to regain trust with their children and family members can be challenging.
Life in recovery is about making good choices, taking responsibility for actions, gaining a sense of self-worth, and learning to be reliable and trustworthy again.
In time, many of the women have been able to rebuild trust and have overnight visits with their kids; something that never would have happened before. In fact, within the past month, three of the women from the Recovery program graduated and secured safe and stable housing, jobs making a sustainable living, and healthy reconnection with family members.
While the drug overdose death rates can be overwhelming, we, at Lower Lights Ministries, are invested in being part of the solution by overcoming the deadly statistics in helping women find hope and healing and empowering them to love and lead others along the path of recovery that they have found.
The ladies in the Lower Lights Recovery program celebrated 3 graduations this month!
We are so grateful to have you by our side in this mission. Join us on September 23rd at Celebration of Hope as we come together to proclaim that there is freedom for those who are suffering in addiction by letting them know there is hope and that recovery is possible!