Long time Temple University affiliate Jonathan Orens has never had a ‘drug problem’ in his life. Orens eldest son, Dan, on the other hand, was a different story. Though Dan had grown up in a safe environment and had always surrounded himself with good friends and loved ones, his positive upbringing would not be enough to deter his disease. By his senior year of high-school, it was clear that drug addiction was becoming a serious concern. Having been ignorant to the effects of addiction prior to his son’s affliction, Orens was mentally unprepared to deal with his son’s crisis. He never even considered the possibility of his son falling prey to such a horrible illness, he remarks “it never even crossed my mind.” Dan, who had once been the image of perfect health was sick, at times physically but more than anything, Dan suffered mentally. This fight would last for 10 years, during which Dan would be in and out of recovery trying to stay sober, but ultimately relapsing ending up in the hospital or in jail. Unfortunately, after a decade of battling addiction, Dan fell victim to a drug overdose and passed away. Orens recalls feeling as though he was “fighting with the devil” for Dan’s soul and still experiences remnants of this feeling to this day.
After losing his eldest son to addiction Orens began his journey into the world of recovery advocacy. He joined the opioid task force and spends much of his free time talking to people either struggling with addiction themselves or who have family members who struggle with addiction. Though addiction can be a very sensitive topic, Orens refuses to sugar coat its consequences “welcome to hell, but you’re not alone” he states, desiring to provide some sense of comfort as well. Along with providing active support to the recovery community, Orens also raises awareness on addiction as a whole. Orens correlates the rise of opiate addiction to the over-prescription of painkillers and the easy access to these drugs. He estimates around 20% of drugs are street affiliated while 80% are pharmaceutical. Orens also states that an overuse of Narcan may cause a negative shift in the attitudes of addicts.