JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - The William Christian Doerhoff Memorial Foundation brought their Speak Up-Speak Out program to the athletes of Arkansas State University for the first time. This program is dedicated to raising awareness of the hazards behind opioid and heroin addictions.
Several speakers were in attendance including a representative with the FBI, DEA, Arkansas State Board of Pharmacy and Chief Kirk Lane of the Benton Police Department.
Executive Director Scott Doerhoff kicked off the program speaking of the purpose behind starting this foundation.
"I had the honor of having my son Will for 20 years until this addiction cost him his life," said Doerhoff.
During the program, a video presentation was presented showing the reality of being addicted to drugs.
At the end of the video presentation, presenters engaged with the athletes about how they can be a part of the cause.
"It is about taking care of your loved one but in this case, taking care of your teammate," said Lane. "We wanted to speak with the Red Wolves because they are leaders on this campus and to have them champion against such a horrible situation could save a life."
Lane said he believes education is the key to solving the opioid epidemic.
"Nationwide in 2015, over 52,000 deaths were caused by drug overdose with 33,000 being from opioid addiction," said Lane." In relation to Arkansas, 11.4 people per 100,000 died from drug overdose."
Lane said that is the leading cause of death of people under age 50.
"In 2016, those numbers are projected to increase and we have to get a handle on this problem," said Lane.
Lane said he hopes the Speak Up-Speak Out programs help get a grasp on the situation because he feels everyone can be responsible in preventing more opioid-related deaths from happening.
"We know with these college-age kids, they are our next community leaders, next mayors, our next police chiefs," said Lane. "They are the next family oriented people in our communities and if they can take forward some of the things we learn in there, then we can solve this problem and we can save lives."
Copyright 2017 KAIT. All rights reserved.