Tammy Lofink lost her son to a fatal drug overdose, while Tracey Kuhn's son has also struggled with addiction. Now they work together to try and make access to drug treatment available to everyone in Carroll.
The two Realtors set up a nonprofit, Rising Above Addiction, that helps fund detox programs for people seeking help after an overdose and have found that through helping others, they have helped process their own grief.
Kuhns and Lofink will be two of the many speakers at the second annual Drug and Violence Awareness Expo at the Carroll County Agricultural Center's Shipley Arena on Thursday, April 28. It's a collaboration involving the local business community, law enforcement, prevention professionals, people in recovery and concerned parents. The Drug and Violence Awareness Expo is aimed at bringing the community together to grasp the reality and scope of the problems of drug abuse and domestic violence in Carroll, as well as to formulate solutions.
The expo will take place 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday and will also feature speakers from the State's Attorney's Office, the Carroll County Health Department and parent activists. Kuhns and Lofink will be presenting from 4:30 to 5 p.m.
Kuhns and Lofink spoke with the Times about the upcoming expo, their presentation and what inspired them to do what they do.
Q: You're the founders of Rising Above Addiction, a nonprofit that helps fund intervention service of drug addicted youth. Can you tell us a bit about the organization, what it is that you do and how you first got involved in this work?
Kuhns: We started Rising Above Addiction on Sept. 14, 2015; the one-year anniversary of Tammy's son's death. My son, Ryan, was Robert's best friend and his addiction became much worse after [Robert's] death. We wanted to find a way to turn our tragedies and heartache into healing by helping others. We raise money to send young adults to detox through fundraisers such as our upcoming June 11 race and an annual skydiving jump in September as well as reoccurring contributions from generous donors.
Q: What will you be speaking about at the upcoming Drug and Violence Expo?
Lofink: We will share our personal stories and how starting this fund has helped us heal by helping young adults with addiction. We will talk about the experiences that we have had since starting the fund and the opportunities that have come our way.
Q: How is this relevant to what's going on in Carroll County right now?
Lofink: Carroll County is losing too many young adults to overdoses. Families are being destroyed by this addiction epidemic. Unfortunately this isn't just happening in Carroll County.
Q: What's something you think is important for people to understand about addiction and recovery issues that is not common knowledge, or is often misunderstood?
Kuhns: Addiction is a disease and not a choice. It does not discriminate; it reaches across all socioeconomic boundaries, touching all of us. Unfortunately the biggest misunderstood part of recovery is that relapse is often times part of it. It's a matter of finding the right treatment plan for the individual and even then they may still relapse.
Q: What would you like people who come to your presentation to take away?
Lofink: Addiction is an epidemic that is tearing families and communities apart. Sadly there are not enough resources in place to help everyone in need. This is not just a community or statewide problem, it's a national epidemic and requires everyone's help.