Once upon a time in the land of "Never, Never," two moms met. They laughed, they shared and cautiously guarded much of their inner self.
"Why?" you may ask.
Because our story was one we didn't talk about. It was our secret, our shame and our stigma. Society forced us to own it. It was our fault, Our missed dinner time. Our lack of parenting, Our lack of discipline. Our denial. And our child.
And the days passed.... And the weeks....and finally in a faint whisper, "Me, too."
It was 2013 when two moms shared. We held our private Peer support meetings long before it was popular. The more we shared the more we realized we were no longer alone. My story was hers, and hers mine. And we wondered, "Are YOU, too, one of us?"
And WE became US and the more of US became OhioCAN. We brought the family voice to addiction and recovery.
The in-betweens are not necessary because chances are, if you are reading this, you already know. You have a loved one, family member or child with a substance use. You know the feeling in your gut. You know that intuition. You just know. It is something you can never explain to the outsider looking in. You have to walk in our shoes!!
Your friends change. Your family changes. Whispers stop when you enter a room and you discover the definiton of shame, blame and stigma.
And no one ever brings you a casserole... ever.
OhioCAN has remained consistent in upholding our Value, Mission and Vision Statements. Two years ago we became inclusive by changing the "Family" Voice, to "YOUR" voice. It appeared there were many family members who also shared the success of Recovery, thus their voice became ours as well.
Over the years, we have watched as Grandparents raise the babies of their baby. So many experiencing the greatest of all loss, only to put their retirement dreams to the side and give their grandchildren the best they can give. What their child so badly wanted to give them. But substance use took.
We have Embraced, Educated and Empowered those who in the past were called "enablers" or "co-dependents, or better yet, were told to wait until their loved one "hit rock bottom." Through education, we know that although we did not cause it, cannot control or cure it, we can meet them where they are at and love them unconditionally. We know that harm reduction provides us strategies to reduce the harm for those who continue to use drugs and provides ideas aimed at reducing negative consequences associated with drug use. Harm Reduction is a movement for social justice built on a belief in, and respect for, the rights of people who use drugs reducing the shame and stigma placed on all of us. It is now our goal to keep them alive and prevent them from hitting that rock, which is often death.
OhioCAN began in Salem, Ohio, 2014, with a Steps of Hope event, and we were told by many, "No one will come." We had 78 pair of shoes, lots of cookies, hot dogs, and balloons. But the one thing we had the most of was HOPE. Don't ever attempt to come between a Mama and her HOPE!! Often it's all she has left and she will hold on to it as tightly as she would hold on to her child. You see, for her, they are one in the same.
We have not allowed politics to over shadow our dream. In fact we welcome it. OhioCAN advocated for the Good Samaritan Law and attended the signing of the final bill.
We advocated for the Medicaid expansion bill and watched as many of our "kids" were finally able to receive mental health and substance use treatment.
We attended every FedUp Rally bringing our voices to the dangers of prescription pills while Big Pharm continued to market and over prescribe. Finally, our voices have been heard!!
And we were there the Day the Silence Ended. 10.4.15 When Unite to Face Addiction brought the annonymous voices out of silence. And we were heard.
OhioCAN has carried food to the homeless. Delivered chocolate bars to those sick and in detox. We have nourished the hungry and brought smiles to their babies. We have screamed for Health Care and sat in silence on many occassions.
We have wept with the broken and provided warmth to those in the cold.
We stuff cruisers, fill trunks and provide to those without.
If we cannot save our child, we will try really hard to save yours. And we simply ask you do the same for ours.
You know in a hearbeat we will be there, and so will you.
OhioCAN is the place where we reach out to one another and share our stories, our successes, our setbacks, our fears and constant worry.
We won't have to say a word if you aren't ready. Our eyes speak openly what our hearts cannot say.
It’s where we find the support to end our isolation and put a face on addiction.
It's where many of us begin to live again. We CAN and so CAN you.
OhioCAN recognizes addiction is a family disease for which families and loved ones need recovery, too. We also know we are the missing piece to solving the epidemic of addiction.
It is our mission to bring our voices to addiction and recovery empowering all of us to create an atmosphere of open exchange without shame or stigma.
OhioCAN has County Coordinators throughout Ohio. If you are interested in forming a Peer2Peer support group, hosting an event or just want to eliminate stigma in your hometown, contact Info@ohiocanchangeaddictionnow.org for information as to how to get started.
And they came!!!
Over 300 strong they stood up to stigma, overcame their shame and they walked proudly.
And OhioCAN has been walking ever since!!
We host our annual Steps of Change the third Saturday of May and our shoes, sadly, now total in the thousands. But every year we remember.
And our families know we will never forget.