Lisa Goodwin’s father was an alcoholic.
His disease forced family members into unwanted roles and fueled Goodwin’s desire to help others with addiction.
“What happens in that environment is everyone in the house takes on identities to hide, enable, or support that addiction,” she said. “That can be out of fear, confusion, or love. That dynamic becomes a family disease. Everything my father did or didn’t do had some form of impact on my mom, myself, and my brother. It can cause anxiety or acting out. In many cases, children of addicted parents are more likely to use at a young age and become addicts themselves.”
Today Goodwin is a prevention educator at The LCADA Way. She’ll speak about the dangers of heroin at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 31 at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, 410 West Lorain St., Oberlin.
The event will feature a screening of “Heroin: Your First Time Could Be Your Last,” produced by Elyria High School students and the Lorain County Drug Task Force.
“It’s a film we’re using in our school presentations in Lorain, Elyria, and Wellington,” Goodwin said. “Then we’ll open it up to a sort of round table where the community can share personal stories and ask questions. A lot of people don’t understand how this has happened in our area or what’s being done about it. This is a wonderful opportunity to demonstrate that.”
She said an important first step in helping stamp out the epidemic is realizing the scope of the problem.
“I’ve been doing community advocacy work since 2006,” she said. “It doesn’t discriminate anymore. One in every four people you know is battling abuse or addiction. It’s highly genetic. Ohio is number one right now in the country for fatal overdoses and Lorain County was recently identified as a high trafficking area in the state.”
Cancer and diabetes are often the targets of efforts to find new cures and treatments, she said. “We need to send the message that we’re ready to do that with the disease of addiction as well. Any way we can educate the public is what we are here for.”
Sue Palmieri, a member of the peace and justice committee at Sacred Heart, helped to organize the event.
“I’d been hearing on the news about parents talking to their kids about it and what consumers were doing with their pain medications,” she said. “It just struck me that there are very serious things going on. There are things we can do about it and we need to educate ourselves about what those things are.”
Palmieri said people need to realize how easily opioid addiction can take root.
Like Goodwin, she has had personal experience with addiction through a loved one’s struggle.
“My grandfather was an addict, but I never knew him,” she said. “It definitely affected my father’s life. My father wasn’t sure if it was just alcohol or also cocaine. He really only talked to me about it once. It was very important to my father that if you said you were going to do something, to do it. From what I’ve learned from him, addicts tend to make a lot of wonderful promises they don’t keep. If I ever said I was going to do something, boy, I had to do it.”
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.