Some attendees of “Rally To Shed Light,” put on by Walking in Awareness and Recovery, on Friday walked around the Kosciusko County Courthouse to draw attention to addiction. Photo by Jackie Gorski, Times-Union
Some attendees of “Rally To Shed Light,” put on by Walking in Awareness and Recovery, on Friday walked around the Kosciusko County Courthouse to draw attention to addiction. Photo by Jackie Gorski, Times-Union
Every eight minutes there is a drug overdose in the U.S., attendees of the “Rally To Shed Light” learned on Friday.

Walking in Awareness and Recovery (WAR) held the rally at the Kosciusko County Courthouse, WAR founder Brandi Shepherd said, to bring more awareness about drug addiction to the county.

“We have some really great entities in Kosciusko County, amazing other groups. Really, I just want to be another resource in the county to offer aid and recovery, such as MRT - Moral Recognition Training - and Narcan training. It’s not very easily accessible in the county. So tonight’s main goal is to end the stigma” associated with addiction, Shepherd said.

During the rally, attendees walked around the courthouse and were able to share their stories.

April Irons said drug addiction doesn’t discriminate. She was raised in a Christian home. She started smoking marijuana when she was a teenager. She got married and had two children. During her marriage, she quit everything. When going through her divorce, she went back to smoking, as well as drinking and doing other drugs.

In 2002, she was in a bad car accident. Doctors prescribed her medication for the pain. She said she was known as the “pain med junkie,” saying anyone who wanted pain medications knew Irons would give pain medication to them. She said she was able to walk again because she wanted to walk down the aisle with her current husband.

Irons also discussed drug issues in her family didn’t end with her. In 2017, she moved her daughter and her daughter’s then-boyfriend into her home. Irons found out her daughter was addicted to drugs and was pregnant.

Irons went to Celebrate Recovery and Narcotics Anonymous meetings with her daughter. The two went to meetings every night somewhere. In 2019, her daughter overdosed and it took five shots of Narcan to bring her back. She is clean at the moment.

When her daughter got home, Irons learned a lot about addictions, such as what triggers and detox were. Irons had questions and didn’t know where to go. She joined different groups such as Moms Of An Addict, a Facebook group.

Irons said she has stuck with Celebrate Recovery. She now helps addicts by working in jails and recovery homes. She is now a certified recovery specialist.

Serena Case said she started drinking when she was 13. She ran away several times, with one of those times being to the southside of Chicago. She and the people she was with ran out of gas and a police officer pulled them over because the car Case was in had Indiana plates that had been reported stolen. She ended up at the Bowen Center.

Due to that experience, Case’s father quit drinking, which he had trouble with.

Case’s son also struggled with drugs for seven years. At one point, he overdosed. He is now homeless.

Case said there have been times where she has blamed herself for her son’s situation. She said God is using this to have her help her help other people.

She said she can’t reach her son, but she can help other people. She is a facilitator of Parents of an Addicted Loved One.

She joined another group before creating her own, which helped her  realize she wasn’t alone. Parents of Addicted Loved Ones is a group of parents helping other parents who have family members who are addicts.  She also works as a chaplain at jails.

Jerry LaCroix shared he lost his nephew last year at the age of 25. He said there is no safe drug.

Jayme Smith said recovery is not a one-size-fits-all fix. Smith mentioned programs like the Jail Chemical Addiction Program, Narcotics Anonymous and Celebrate Recovery. She said people have to start somewhere.

Irons mentioned several different treatment options she tried with her daughter. She said the reason she was mentioning the different treatments was just because one treatment worked for one person, doesn’t mean it will work for someone else. Everyone is different in their addiction and recovery, Irons said.

Kelly Bradley said Moms of An Addict meets every Thursday at Pathway Church and welcomed anyone to join if they needed resources.

LaCroix if one life can be saved from overdosing, it’s worth it.