The disease of addiction has hit Franklin County hard and we are ready to recover. We know that recovery won’t happen overnight. It isn’t a one-time thing we get over and move on from, it’s a constant ongoing battle. That’s why we’re in this for the long haul, helping our residents recover to save their lives and stay in recovery for life. Together, we are recovering from opioid addiction as well as recovering from the stigma that surrounds this disease.


Recovery takes a community and Franklin County is here every step of the way. The healing process starts by understanding addiction as a disease. We provide those struggling with addiction and stigma with helpful resources, non-judgmental treatment, and ongoing support. We created a series of profiles featuring locals who told their story and demonstrated their depths beyond addiction. Together, we’re making recovery possible.


Our perceptions of addiction fail to paint a complete picture. Everyone is more than their addiction. And everyone should have the opportunity to become the person they want to be. These profiles chronicle the recovery journey and paint a picture of a person’s identity even through the struggles of addiction.


My name is Gambit Stuart Aragón III. I’m originally from Nicaragua, but today I live in Columbus, Ohio. These days, I’m working as a case manager for an MS medication, and I’m a member of the Civilian Review Board.


There was political unrest in Nicaragua when I was growing up, and I experienced a lot of trauma. And in our culture, that kind of trauma is often not addressed. Your mental health and self-care were not things people really discussed. In addition, I was taught that if you worked hard, you could have all these things. But that isn’t always true. And when it didn’t happen for me, it gave me low self-esteem. So in my twenties, I started to use substances to mask the trauma and my feelings of low self-worth. That combination put me through some really low years when I felt like I was trying to kill myself slowly.


My journey with recovery started through a realization. I had been through so much – sexual trauma, civil war, living in the '90s as a queer person – that I wasn’t about to let a substance take me out. It was from that realization and that sense of confidence that I found the momentum I needed to find recovery.


A few things have influenced me along the way. First, I saw how badly people struggling with addiction need to be welcomed regardless of their gender, skin color, or orientation. And I learned how important it was for loved ones to accept people where they were along the recovery journey. I think these two things influence what I’m passionate about these days and my future goals.


I want to help others to have it easier than I had it. I want to break down fences and hold them for others to cross, creating more inclusivity within treatment and recovery but also across our political system. I’m even interested in working on inclusivity and equity legislation, especially for the LGBTQIA+ community.


If you’re still struggling with addiction, don’t compare yourself to others. Every journey is different, so just keep trying. To the families of those struggling, I urge you to keep the door open. That doesn’t mean enabling, but always leave room for that day they are ready to change. And to those with misconceptions about addiction, I would challenge you to see the humanity in everyone.



My name is Kevin, and I’m from Dublin, Ohio. Currently, I'm a peer supporter on the react team for Southeast Healthcare.


My experiences with addiction started in college when I was first introduced to cocaine. For the next fifteen years, substance use was all I cared about. It made me selfish, and I often neglected people who mattered. I think I liked getting high because it took me out of my element and allowed me to feel comfortable. During those years of addiction, I know I put a lot of people through a lot of hurt, especially my family. And in many ways, I didn't know what being in a relationship was supposed to look like. My first real turnaround came after violating probation. The Bell Center, where I went, had me focus on underlying behaviors rather than just on drug use. That place saved my life. It taught me about myself and helped to break down some of that ego that stands in the way of self-reflection. I admitted my shortcomings in front of a group of 20 other men. And they lifted me up and accepted me. Since that day, I haven't looked back.


My time in recovery has helped me to uncover the person I had the potential to be. It's helped me discover and fuel my passions. Those passions? Well, there's my family: being a good father and a good husband are so important to me. And then there's growth, which is just so crucial. I value my own growth, it’s why I'm finishing a bachelor's in psychology. And I love music. These days, I'm blending gospel and rap to make music that inspires me and hopefully others. Part of growth is knowing that I'll continue to find new passions and ways to contribute to the lives of others.


I don’t just value my own growth; I value the growth of others, especially those recently entering recovery or still struggling in active addiction. I care about these people; I love waking up every day and knowing I get a chance to show them what recovery did for me. To those struggling with addiction, I remind them that it can be overcome. To the families, understand that those struggling with addiction are not themselves, so be patient. And to those struggling to be empathetic toward people with addiction, remember they are still people, and we shouldn’t judge them, especially because no one is perfect.



My name is Alex, I’m originally from California, but spent most of my childhood in Pittsburgh and Charleston. I’m on the board of Lower Lights Christian Health Center. 


From a young age, I knew my father was an alcoholic. And I was determined not to be like him. However, a childhood trauma pushed me toward negative coping skills, and I started drinking around the age of 16. In college, it just felt like normal partying, but I never really turned that partying off. I dropped out of college and continued to drink heavily. When it came to work, I was always really successful, which somehow masked the problems. Because I continuously received promotions and new opportunities, and second chances. My ability to succeed masked many underlying problems – things from my past I wasn’t ready to face. 


I knew I had to change when I found myself in a parking lot on the phone with my partner talking about how I didn’t want to live anymore. I gave myself a year to find reasons to keep going. That moment, dark as it was, acted as the start of my transformation. Despite my troubles, I’d been really lucky when it came to legal trouble or physical harm. And I found myself thinking there has to be a reason I’m not in jail or dead. I must have some purpose. And I had my learned experiences, ability to communicate my story, and a desire to bring something to the world. 


That feeling, a desire to help others and my ability to be able to, is really important to me. Sitting on the Board of LLCHC, I can bring a voice of change to the table. In addition to providing a unique perspective, I want to implement initiatives that will help the organization remain diverse and inclusive. It isn’t just through my role on the board. I want to carve a more inclusive road for younger kids, my own family included, so they can live in a better world than the one I was brought up in. Of course, it isn’t all intense; when I’m not looking to make the world more inclusive, I love yoga and, most of all, my three dogs.



My name is Devon. I’m originally from Florida, now living in Columbus, Ohio. I’m a Care Coordination Supervisor for Franklin County Public Health, and I’m getting ready to go back to school to pursue a master’s degree in public health. 


My earliest experiences with substance use came around middle and high school. I was a bit of an awkward kid. Drugs and alcohol gave me an easy in with a certain group of friends and made me feel more comfortable in my own skin. 


I served in the military and after I got home, I was still the same person as I was before I joined, only now I had a lot of money saved up. I used that money to party with friends. When it ran low, I turned to more desperate measures. My behavior eventually made my family uncomfortable around me, and in some cases, unwelcomed. They kept me at arm’s length, but they never gave up on me. Over the years, they helped me find treatment, but I wasn’t ready until I hit a low when my spouse left me because of my addiction. My family had a place lined up for me here in Columbus. This time around, I was ready for the self-reflection and responsibility that leads to growth. Everyone’s recovery journey is different, but I found strength through my faith. My faith and my self-reflection pushed me to do the work on myself and gave me the opportunity to rebuild relationships – which I’m so grateful for. 


Life now is so rewarding, full of a lasting joy that never fades. That feeling inspires me to take my recovery and use it to serve others. Service is something I’m passionate about, and it’s fueling my career and my decision to pursue a master’s in public health. 


To those still struggling, I want you to know that there are people who still care about you, even when it doesn’t feel like it. To the families, I want to reiterate that the person struggling with addiction still needs you even when it feels like they’re pushing you away. And to those with misconceptions about addiction, if you look closely, addiction may not be far from you. So remember to be empathetic and open-minded.


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Talking about and understanding opioid addiction is the first step.
Franklin County has the resources to help you start your recovery journey.

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      Call if you’re in crisis or need to talk to a trained professional.


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      At least one Franklin County resident dies from an opioid overdose every day.
      We can help end the epidemic and the stigma by getting NARCAN®, the opioid overdose reversal drug.

      This website was funded by a grant from the Centers for Disease Control Division of Overdose Prevention (DOP) National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC).