Jon and Daniel Orens: The Dragon Within

I’m continually amazed by the bravery and selflessness of parents and family members of overdose victims. There is so much strength and resolve in the voice and tone of Jon Orens—a father who shared with our class the devastation his son Daniel’s death from an overdose has caused him and his family over the past year.

Jon chooses to empower himself and others in response to his son’s death, as he’s resolute in establishing addiction as a disease model that we treat akin to others such as cancer and diabetes; chronic and threatening afflictions supported by insurance. I was also intrigued by Orens’ discussion of the lexicon of addiction and recovery, suggesting it’s a societal element that could go a long way in destigmatizing the disease without cost.

“I was wrestling with the devil for his soul,” Orens says in detailing the endless and exhausting pursuit of peace in recovery for his son during an 11-year odyssey with drugs.

Orens compares addiction to a dragon that seeks to entice its victims, and that the battle is continuous and requires the utmost attention and priority in the modus operandi of someone in recovery.

“Your sobriety has to be the most important thing in your life,” Orens says. “Even if that means missing you kids birthday to get to a meeting.”

Orens dedicates time and energy to the Opioid Task Force in Philadelphia, what he says is a “think tank” to help combat the opioid epidemic in the metro. Orens estimates 80 percent of the drugs are provided by pharmacies when discussing the wave of opioids. With increased government awareness and a shift in ideology as to how we consider this another chronic disease, Orens amazingly provides a level of stoic optimism for the culture of recovery.

About the author

Jim McCormick

For the past decade, Jim McCormick has worked as an analyst covering the NFL and NBA for and ESPN The Magazine. From 2009 to 2010, he served as a regular panelist for The Washington Post’s online NFL platform, The League. In addition to written content for The League, Jim conceived and produced the interview podcast series, “Behind the Helmet.” From 2011-2012, Jim was the lead high school football editor for Jim also served as an editor and co-publisher of the nationally distributed BLITZ Magazine from 2006 to 2010 in what was a broad learning experience as a media entrepreneur. Contact Jim at

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By Jim McCormick