The Centers for Disease Control reports that since 1999, the number of overdose deaths involving opioids nearly quadrupled.

One recovered addict, Joshua McPherson, said he’s glad to be alive after getting hooked at thirteen years old.

“I just enjoyed using,” said McPherson.

He explained his addiction began with alcohol, then prescription opioids and ended with heroin.

“I went to heroin because the price. You know, when it was easy to access and the price of the prescription medications were getting too high,” said McPherson. “All I wanted was the feeling of being high.”

Tom Hall, head of UCF’s Alcohol and Other Drugs Office explained what McPherson did wasn’t usually. It actually became a trend after Florida’s drug monitoring program.

“What we saw is there was a migration from that prescription opiate use to the illicit opiate use and especially among young people,” said Hall.

And Dr. Martin Klapheke, a psychiatrist from UCF’s College of Medicine said McPherson isn’t alone because the Opioid epidemic doesn’t discriminate.

“It affects all levels of society. It's not restricted to one subset of the population, this is all across the board and we're all vulnerable to addiction, to opioids,” said Dr. Klapheke. “These are powerful medications.”

According to the C-D-C, seventy-eight Americans die every day from an opioid overdose and McPherson continues to see it firsthand.

“The death rate continues to grow. I've buried people myself and it continues to happen every single day,” said McPherson.

Today McPherson celebrates his four years of sobriety by helping others with their addiction. If you're concerned about your substance use, or someone you know, call UCF's intervention clinic at 407-823-2924.

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