LAS VEGAS (KSNV) — Families from all over America who've lost loved ones to Opioid overdoses will descend upon the Las Vegas Strip on Friday to begin the "Drug Epidemic Awareness Walk Across America."
Debi Nadler is one of the people behind putting the event together. Her son Brett, a former UNLV student, died of a heroin overdose in 2018. He battled his addiction for several years, which began with pain pills, and ended with heroin.
She says one of her goals is to end the stigma that's often associated with Opioid addiction.
“People have such a misconception about who is being affected by this epidemic," she said. “Our kid's pictures speak volumes. It puts faces to this epidemic. These are our loved ones. These are kids who look like kids next door – doctors, lawyers, attorneys.”
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Those participating in the walk will be carrying banners with hundreds of faces of loved ones who are no longer with us.
One of those people who'll be walking is Amy Campbell-Andrew, who made the trip from the Phoenix area.
“I will go anywhere and everywhere to promote education, awareness, and prevention. Whatever it takes," she said.
Her daughter, Alyssa Daniels, died from an accidental fentanyl overdose in 2016. She had battled a heroin addiction for a few years, according to her mom.
“You never say, not my child. But, that’s what I thought, you know, how can this happen? And, it can happen to anybody," she said. “It’s mind-blowing, mind-boggling, how many people have been affected by it.”
She, too, wants to eliminate the stigma.
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“We need to tackle stigma. Stigma is just too prevalent," she said. "It can happen to anybody."
Nadler says these parents share a bond they never wished for, and want to make a difference.
“We lived through their addiction. We know what worked and what didn’t work for them, and, our voices aren’t really being heard," she said.
“We need mental health education in the classrooms. Most of our kids had a trauma, some kind of mental trauma, whether in early childhood, middle school, high school, that drove them to self-medicate.”
The first walk is in Las Vegas. There are more planned all throughout the country.