A Rockford-based advocacy group, ‘Hope Over Addiction’ has, for years, been a source of support for families dealing with opioid addiction and those who have lost a loved one to the epidemic. 

Now, after meeting for a year and a half in Rockford, the group is expanding into Rockton. Pastor Dan Herman started the Rockton location two weeks ago.

A member of his congregation approached him about expanding the group after a family member recently died from a drug overdose.

“My grandmother goes to the Old Stone Church and she told [Herman] a little bit about what was going on, so when Brian passed, he had sent mama a letter in the mail,” Erin Haun said.

In February, Haun and her mother received a call that her brother had passed away.

“We didn’t expect it at this time because he just was starting a new job on Monday,” Brian’s mother, Sandy Cofoid said. “[He] passed on Thursday and was starting this new job on Monday. He had an apartment set up to get and we thought his life was ready to go forward.”

Brian struggled with addiction for a decade before passing away as a result. Heartbroken, Sandy and Erin attended their first ‘Hope Over Addiction’ meeting in Rockford and are a driving force with Pastor Dan behind spreading the word about the expansion to Rockton.

“Everybody, essentially, knows someone who may have a loved one who’s using, or some connection, and so it was just important to have one here locally, where people could come,” Pastor Dan said. “We hope to get more people from Beloit coming down.”

The group aims to take a different approach to better understand how to help families of addicts cope with a drug related death of a loved one.

“A loved one dying of heroin, for instance, it’s just a whole different set of emotional circumstances,” Pastor Dan said. “And people in most grief groups don’t quite know how to handle that.”

Families with a living loved one who’s an addict are battling along side them, from recoveries to relapses and everything in between. ‘Hope Over Addiction’ wants to be a lifeline for them as well.

“It’s a way for us to talk to other people that have been through the same thing we’re going through and help us feel that we’re not alone,” said Pastor Dan.

‘Hope Over Addiction’ meets in Rockford at 4615 E. State Street Suite 15 in the PNC Bank building every first and third Monday of the month, and in Rockton at the Old Stone Church every second and fourth Monday of the month.