CALY COUNTY, Fla. — Your college years may be some of your best years. They can also be among the most dangerous, according to Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody.
Moody’s warns college kids against using fentanyl, saying “one pill can kill.”
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Action News Princess Jhané Stepherson of Jax sat down and talked with Debbie Rizer. His son Derek was a rising star in track and his talents took him all the way to the University of Arkansas. Derek was a punter and quarterback there. But after a turnaround, Derek decided to attend Charleston Southern University. Her dreams were cut short after she overdosed on fentanyl.
Debbie Rizer is the mother of Derek Hatcher, they were an inseparable mother-son duo.
“Aw, man, Derek was definitely a mama’s boy, no doubt about it, he was a good boy. I was a single mom most of her life and we were very close,” says Rizer.
But Debbie was shaken after losing her son to a fentanyl overdose in February 2016.
“He was at a college party, a college party and the kids said ‘try it, go try it, it won’t kill you, just try it’ and he did,” explains Rizer.
Derek tried prescription painkillers. Debbie tells me that the pills were often prescribed to injured athletes on campus and were also often shared on campus.
“He was on pain meds, and from there he eventually turned to heroin, and the heroin eventually turned into fentanyl,” Rizer says.
Since Derek’s death, Debbie has dedicated much of her life to raising awareness about substance abuse and addiction in an effort to protect our youth with the Derek Hatcher Foundation.
“Fentanyl kills a generation, it destroys children, it destroys families,” says Rizer.
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Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody has the same goal: to save our young people. That’s why Moody wrote a letter to President Biden last month just before studies resumed at state universities.
Moody’s called on President Biden to declare fentanyl a weapon of mass destruction. Part of Moody’s letter reads: “Fentanyl has become the leading cause of death in adults aged 18-45, claiming more young lives than COVID-19, cancer, car crashes or suicide”.
Attorney General Moody says a pill can kill – and according to Florida Health, Moody’s right. They say fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid up to 100 times stronger than morphine. As many milligrams as about five grains of salt can be deadly.
“I never had sweet dreams about him, all my dreams are to fight to get him into rehab,” Rizer says.
Action News Jax reached out to several universities around Jacksonville, asking: How do you combat drug use on campus? Jacksonville University released the following statement:
“Jacksonville University welcomes all efforts to raise awareness of the dangers of illicit drug use. JU employs strategies that focus on educating students about these dangers and supporting them in times of crisis. All incoming students at the University of Jacksonville are required to participate in a mandatory drug and alcohol education program.JU’s campus safety and security department also offers drug and alcohol seminars throughout of the academic year. Additionally, the University of Jacksonville has a medical amnesty policy for students. This means that if a student experiences a seizure or emergency involving drugs or alcohol – or if they is with a friend in crisis – the student can report it to their residential counselor or our campus security officers without facing disciplinary action.This policy supports our commitment to prioritizing the health and safety of our students and encourage them to get the help they need.
The University of North Florida released the following statement:
“The University of North Florida strictly prohibits the unlawful purchase, possession, distribution, and/or use of illegal drugs. The University is monitoring the fentanyl situation nationwide and all Department of University Police (UPD) have undergone mandatory training to respond to calls related to fentanyl and other opioids.Each UPD officer carries naloxone and is trained to administer it.Housing and Living Staff in residence at UNF has completed voluntary training on fentanyl and naloxone administration.The Informed Ospreys program has an online module related to opioid use that every freshman must complete. and Student Health Services also offers support, resources, and referrals from healthcare providers for students struggling with substance abuse.
Debbie and Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody believe ending fentanyl use is a community effort.
If you want to help people like Debbie and Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody end drug use and fentanyl overdose, you can.
First, Debbie says you can stay vigilant because the use of fentanyl and other drugs is a community issue. Adding that we as a community should work to ensure that our young people feel they can talk to anyone at any time.
If you want to help the Derek Hatcher Foundation, you can click on this link.
Be sure to mark the Derek Hatcher Foundation on your calendars in November and December. Debbie says the gifts are collected during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays and given to children whose parents struggle with addiction.
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody asks you to visit https://doseofrealityfl.com/. Here, Moody says you can get help if you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction.
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