Billboards target growing opioid epidemic

February 18, 2019 09:45 AM

A series of billboards in two locations on Interstate 90 are reminding many drivers about a subject that may be hard for some people to discuss. The signs target the growing opioid epidemic.

"It is talking to all types of people, but it is always the same message, have you talked? Have you talked," said Rudy Fernandez. 


For some people, like recovering addict turned recovery coach Rudy Fernandez, the bold messages ask the questions some people are simply afraid to ask – "Have you asked your dad about his opioid addiction?" or "Have you asked your sister about her opioid addiction?"

"A lot of families are not educated on it. Some, whether it's the addict that's still suffering to use a substance or the family that is still suffering because they have a family member going through substance abuse," said Fernandez.

The new billboards are targeting the opioid epidemic hitting the communities across the country at alarming rates. They're not sponsored by the county, the Department of Health or OASAS. We did reach out to the owner of the billboards, Lamar, but have not heard back.

According to the CDC, since 1999, drug-related fatalities often involve a mixture of medications. They found overdoses that included prescription opioid pain killers rose 485 percent. Opioids are known to hook patients easily.

Fernandez knows that reality first hand.

"I am not different than anybody else that's still struggling out there. I haven't had a substance or drink since March 23, 2014, as a result of that," said Fernandez.

Fernandez says almost anyone driving past can relate to the billboards because he says opioid addiction impacts all races, all genders, and the majority of communities across the country.

"Oh it's very serious and it doesn't discriminate," said Fernandez.

He says he thinks advertisements like these will make a real difference.

"I have not recovered. I fight through this every day. I do feel hopeful. There's still a lot more work to do but little by little we are getting the message out there," said Fernandez.


Brooke Selby

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