On Thursday, Jon Orens came in to talk to our class about his son Daniel, who passed away, and the foundation he created in his son’s honor.

Jon covered a lot of interesting topics. He mentioned that a representative he spoke with from the Drug Enforcement Agency after his son’s death believes that the recent lax enforcement of marijuana laws has led to an increase in opioid use. There is now competition to make substances more potent in smaller amounts, he said.

Jon was also critical of using medication in recovery. He said he believes that a mental health response is the best way to combat addiction; however, he noted that he doesn’t think most people are able to simply use this approach alone.

He also said he has encountered some people in his work who misunderstand Narcan’s purpose. He added that he believes Narcan and CUES (Comprehensive Engagement User Sites), also known as “safe injection sites,” are only temporary fixes to the opioid epidemic.

In sharing his own personal story of loss, Jon added that he didn’t fully understand at the time it was happening that his son couldn’t control his relapses. He said through grieving his son’s loss, he has come to better understand addiction, and he is working to help other families. He also said he looks for silver linings in his own experience with losing someone from addiction, like his son Daniel’s attitude change in the last five years of his life that left him more remorseful for his actions and kinder to his family.