Miami Trace High School hosted a speaker Tuesday from “Tyler’s Light,” an organization aimed at educating students on the dangers of opioid addiction.
Tyler’s Light was created earlier this decade after the son of Wayne Campbell, president and chairman of the board for Tyler’s Light, died from an accidental overdose. Tyler, who had been fighting addiction in his junior year at the University of Akron where he had been a part of the football team, was getting great grades and was enjoying his college life.
Shortly after a surgery on his shoulder and being prescribed Vicodin, Tyler began to act strange around his family. He was admitted to rehab several times over the few years before he died in 2011, just 12 hours after leaving a 30-day facility.
With visuals around him saying “Speak Up! Save a Life!”, Campbell’s program began with a few introductory videos with facts about addiction and the continued rise of overdoses. The first video discussed national statistics, with facts from when the video was produced in 2012. According to the video, the United States makes up only 5 percent of the population of the earth, but overall consumes more than 80 percent of all prescription drugs made around the world.
The video went on to explain that 100 people die every day in the country to overdoses, which is a number that continues to climb today. After each video, Campbell took time to talk to the students and asked them to remind him of the stats just mentioned, so they could discuss them. For answering questions, students could take home some Tyler’s Light giveaways, including bags and shirts.
“There, 100 people die every day, (saying to the student) he took the easy one out, (back to the crowd) but you all have lived out in Fayette County, Washington Court House, is that a little? Is that a lot?” Campbell said, trying to provoke thought from the students. “This to me is an alarming statistic. The U.S., we are not that big of a country. (Using his arms to show the size of the U.S. compared to a global map). If you look at a world atlas, the world is only as wide as my arms, and the U.S.? Only about as big as my fist. We only have 4.7 percent of the population that live in the country. With about 5 percent we consume that much of all prescription drugs made in the entire world. With 5 percent we should consume only about 5 percent. Of that amount, we in America consume 99 percent of the worlds Oxycodone. We over-medicate anything that happens. If you have the sniffles, take this. If you feel anxious, take this. If you’re tired today, take this.”
The second video highlighted some of Ohio’s drug statistics. In Ohio, taken from 2012 results, doctors prescribed enough medication for every man, woman and child to have 70 doses per person. The video also claimed that one in every five Ohio high school students has said that they have taken a drug that was not prescribed to them by a doctor, of which half said they had no idea what they were taking.
One of the eye-opening statements made was that in 2012, accidental overdoses became the number one reason for accidental death in Ohio. The number one position was held for 50 years by automobile accidents, and according to Campbell, in 2017 the number of deaths by overdose will be nearly double the amount of deaths by automobile accidents.
After the discussion and a story by Campbell about his son Tyler, a few more testimonial videos were shown to the students. Campbell said that the purpose is to say to a student that even if they are in the same situation, there is help available for them. Campbell concluded with a brief thanks and reminded students to “Speak Up! Save a Life!”
“I want to thank the superintendent, Mr. (David) Lewis, and Jack Anders, who made it happen after given the direction,” Campbell said after the program. “I want everyone to look at addiction as not a poor character or poor choices. Yes, it sometimes might start that way, but we need to be on alert. Most of this epidemic we are dealing with starts in medicine cabinets, honestly. But our youth love to share pharmaceuticals. They think that’s okay to do, so we have to alarm them and say hey, that is why heroin is around here, it follows opiate use. Be educated and don’t look at an addict like they have a character flaw. They have a chemical imbalance in their brain and need professional help.”
Reach Martin Graham at (740) 313-0351 or on Twitter @MartiTheNewsGuy