FORT MYERS, Fla. — September marks Recovery Month, a time to raise awareness and support those recovering from drug use.
To kick-start the month, a few local groups organized a gathering at Lakes Park earlier today.
"It’s a great day of remembrance, remembering our friends and our loved ones that we’ve lost which is so important.”
It's a special gathering taking place in the fight against addiction.
“This is a time of gathering to kind of kickoff our new challenge which is the tsunami called fentanyl,” said Al Kinkle.
Kinkle is the founder of Kimmie’s Recovery Zone named after his own daughter who he lost to overdose. Today, the non-profit is dedicated to helping those overcome addiction. One of the biggest challenges being faced today is the battle against fentanyl.
"Fentanyl is poisoning the nation," said Zinkle. "Our biggest fear is what it’s doing to the entire community but also our young children- our children are being affected by it.”
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is up to 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it is a major contributor to fatal and nonfatal overdoses in the U.S. With more than 150 people reportedly dying each day from overdoses related to the opioid.
“There’s no guilt, there’s no shame in this happening to you. But you’ve got to raise your hand and ask for help.”
Former Tampa Bay Buccaneer Randy Grimes is the founder of Pro Athletes in Recovery. Even having battled his own addictions.
He says one of the biggest challenges against addiction is speaking up.
"You’ve got to have those uncomfortable conversations because we’re losing an entire generation of kids right in front of our eyes here," he says. "We’ve got a pandemic within a pandemic and with all of the fentanyl that’s going on, it only takes one time. Your first time could be your last time.”
And it’s this speaking up that’s beginning to sway the tide, marked by the amount of people turning out.
"All of that is going on because people really care in Fort Myers- they really do," said Kinkle. "They know that this is a family disease now. Years ago we didn’t know that and now it’s getting more accepted, we’re allowed to talk about it and we’re finding more help.”
If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction there are resources available to help on the road to recovery. You can find more information online right here.