‘Lights of Change’ aims to end addiction stigma

A display at the “Lights of Change” event on Friday memorializes those lost to addiction.

Madeline Pigott

In the United States, Ohio ranked No. 2 for the most deaths by overdose. OhioCAN, a statewide organization for family members affected by addiction, is speaking out and changing the stigma that comes with drug addiction.

OhioCAN reached out to the Kent community and hosted “Lights of Change” on Aug. 31 at the Hometown Bank stage in downtown Kent for International Overdose Awareness Day.

Mary Beth Day is the OhioCAN Portage County coordinator, and she is a certified support specialist. She stressed that OhioCAN is “committed to break the silence and the stigma that addiction carries.”

OhioCAN believes education is an important factor in addiction. The organization wants people to learn about addiction and what it does to families and communities.

Day said the organization began with five women whose children were affected by addiction. Today, they are at the forefront, joining other services such as Townhall II and Hope Village Recovery Center.

OhioCAN offers addiction education about needle exchange and Narcan programs. They also recommend peer support groups to families who are going through an overdose loss.

“Lights of Change” focused on families spreading their stories on how they have lost someone through addiction. All families focused on the importance to abolish the stigma around shaming addicts and finding a way to help others with addiction.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction contact the provided services below.

SAMHSA: 1-800-487-4889

Townhall II: 330-678-4357 (HELP)

OhioCAN: Online form submission

Madeline Pigott is the mental health and social services reporter. Contact her at [email protected]

In cases of emergency, always call 911.