My name is Dawn Bova. I lost my beautiful boy Bradley. I’ve been involved with the recovery community for years but when Bradley’s addiction hit our home we felt as if we were foreigners in our own county. No one spoke the language of addiction …especially opioids (and ultimately heroin/fentanyl). He tried on numerous occasions to quit, detoxing at home, 30 day inpatient, and finally he left our home in Ohio to find help in Florida.
I became an advocate to reduce stigma, shame, and promote recovery before he died and was optimistic about him joining me. What I’ve discovered is a broken system where people don’t matter and money dictates how this epidemic is addressed. Brad was doing fantastic and when my insurance ran out he told me he wasn’t ready and wanted to go to a sober living halfway. He died in that horrific place 3 weeks later along with others. My resolve to help others is even more pressing.
We moved to my hometown (Bellevue Ohio) when our children were small. We thought rural Ohio would be a safe place to raise children and provide family support unlike the city. I did not realize the impact this epidemic would have on my home town. We are overwhelmed with overdoses many resulting in death. My small community hospital sees overdoses almost daily in a town of 8,000.
As a nurse practitioner I have the power to make a difference, and I’m determined to try. I’m involved with an organization called OhioCAN (Change Addiction Now). My county chapter has passed out over 500 blessing bags to those impacted by addiction because we care.
We’ve sponsored eduction to local businesses to educate about the DISEASE of addiction. I’ve learned that many believe incarceration is a part of the problem..not a part of the solution. Long term…safe treatment is needed to match the changes that we now know occur in the brain. I’ve learned to have leather thick skin. I’ve been told my son chose to stick the needle in his arm so he got what was coming, I’ve been told…it’s natural selection. I’ve been told he didn’t want it bad enough. When I posted on our local community page about Narcan…I was attacked (over 500 comments) with hurtful hateful comments. Changing the opinions of this community has been a struggle, even when I present research and facts.
I will continue to be the voice for my boy…and all those still struggling with this horrific epidemic that is stealing so many children of their parents and so many parents of their children.
Story by Dawn Bova