Our response to Left Behind America - Dayton, Ohio

Left Behind America - there’s more to the story.

Did you happen to catch the recently Frontline/ProPublica documentary report about Dayton, Ohio? Left Behind America, a detailed report of Dayton’s economic and social struggles as captured and retold by Alec MacGillis. While we’re thankful for the interest in our city and, of course, for the mention of FOA, Families of Addicts, so much of this story has been left untold.

So we reached out to Frontline.

We’ve recently reached out to Alec MacGillis in hopes that he’ll return to this area for a deeper look. We want the world to know, Dayton may have great need, but we boast great resilience, strength, ingenuity, and toughness. All of this is present here as the result of the challenges we’ve faced.

Despite all the challenges illuminated by the press we want to make sure our friends and neighbors in the recovery community are being heard! We’ve outlined some points below (and presented these to Frontline for consideration as well).

I hope you’ll be encouraged by this information and share with others as you see fit.

1.)   Several local recovery community organizations have arisen to meet the demand by utilizing evidence based forward-thinking practices to pursue better futures for recovery support in our community.

These non-profits have joined forces to form the Recovery Alliance of Montgomery County (RAMCO) and meet monthly to support unified practices against addiction.

2.)   In September 2016, Public Health – Dayton & Montgomery County, along with the Montgomery County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services (ADAMHS) took the lead to coordinate efforts to combat the opioid epidemic.

Under this leadership, community partners have come together to form the Community Overdose Action Team (COAT). Due to the level of urgency of the problem, Public Health, aligned efforts under the National Incident Management System (NIMS) to provide an operational framework. The NIMS model is used nationwide to respond to emergencies or disasters that effect a community. Montgomery County is unique in choosing this structure to respond to the opioid epidemic. The Community Overdose Action Team’s primary goal is to reduce the number of fatal overdoses in Montgomery County Ohio.

  • Over 200 members, including those who are in recovery, and over 140 organizations have come together to participate in one of eight operational branches of the structure. 

  • The branches include a focus on the areas of: Prevention, Treatment and Recovery, Illegal Drug Supply, Emergency Response, Harm Reduction, Prescription Opioid Misuse, Criminal Justice and Education and Information. 

  • The branches were developed based on national and state strategies adopted to address the opioid epidemic, and produce Incident Action Plans every 60 days (Marsh, 2018 Public Health).

3.)   Over five hundred peer support recovery meetings happen within the Dayton Area every week. If an average of ten people attend each meeting (which is very conservative), that would mean that five thousand individuals are actively attending peer support meetings in our city.

We know that nationwide as much as 80-90% of those who report to be in recovery do not attend meetings actively. That means that we could place estimates easily within TENS OF THOUSANDS when we look at how many individuals are in active recovery in the Dayton Area. That is 10,000 stories of reunification, reconciliation, job recovery, community development, and impact that make very few headlines within the media at large. Cox Media (Dayton Daily and Channel 7) along with Fox 45 and 22 have led the way in telling a different story from our city, one that highlights the human capital that is and will be the foundation for recovery that our city needs.

The Dayton, Ohio recovery movement is strong and vibrant, because we have to be.

That is the story of our city, one that is deserving of love, and is triumphant in the way that it has come together to find solutions to problems that the media and nation told us were unprecedented.

We invite you to read our letter to Frontline in it’s entirety. If you’d like to reach us directly, please do! We invite the media, people of the community, and those in recovery to have an open dialogue with us on this topic.

-Casey & Lauren Steckling