SALT LAKE CITY, UT (ABC4 Utah) -- 'Stop the Opidemic' is a new campaign unveiled by the Health Department to curb the drug abuse epidemic in Utah.
The Health Department says six Utahns die each week from an opioid overdose and 80 percent of heroin users start with prescription drugs.
He's the host of the the Utah Jazz pre and post game. Alema Harrington is also a recovering addict.
"I smoked heroin and snorted heroin."
It started with prescription pain killers while playing football at BYU. That launched him into a destructive path of addiction.
Harrington, "at the end of the addiction I was at Pioneer Park buying heroin.
A tailspin, that brought him to his knees.
Harrington, "there was plenty of times for me, I was close to death wondering if I'm going to live and grateful that I did."
Mark Lewis, Parent, "we lost our son, he was a beautiful intelligent young man and I don't want others to suffer what we have."
Mark Lewis is sharing his painful story of loss and supporting the 'Stop Opidemic' campaign in hopes of deterring others from following the same road of drug abuse.
Lewis, "we gotta keep talking about it. Too many people are dying."
Dr. Erick Christiensen, is Utah's Chief Medical Examiner and says on average there are 6 deaths a week due to drug overdose and the numbers are rising.
"everyday we come in we average 9-10 autopsies a day in the medical examiner's office and depending on the day 2 to 5 are overdose deaths."
The campaign also pushes having the life saving drug, Naloxone, to reverse overdoses, in every household.
Harrington, "Just because you have a fire extinguisher in your home doesn't mean you want to start a fire. It's a preventative measure that can save a life."
Lewis "you have to keep loving your child, you can't give up."
The Utah Support Advocates for Recovery Awareness is holding a rally and a remembrance walk at the state capitol next month to bring more awareness on the epidemic. It's being held on February 23, 2017 from 4 to 6 p.m.
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