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Auburn father loses son to deadly drug cocktail

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A new report shows 21 percent of people insured by Blue Cross Blue Shield where prescribed opioids in 2015.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the U.S. is in the midst of an opioid epidemic.

The report looked at 20 million people insured with Blue Cross and Blue Shield.

It shows a 65 percent increase in doctor-prescribed opioids between 2010 and 2016 and medical claims for opioid abuse spiked nearly 500 percent that same period.

According to the CDC, opioids killed more than 33,000 people in 2015, which is more than any year on record and nearly half of all opioid overdose deaths involve a prescription opioid.

The opioid epidemic is also a heart-breaking story for Auburn resident, Joel Campagnola.

His son, Nick, died in 2015 from a toxic cocktail of fentanyl and synthetic acid.

"He came from a good, wholesome blue collar family. He had an addictive personality and ultimately that's what led to his death," Campagnola said.

Nick's addiction started after taking painkillers for a wrestling injury.

"I asked him. I said 'Nick, when did you realize that you were full-blown addicted?' He said 'When I took the first one, dad. I knew I could never look back. That warm and fuzzy feeling just took me over,'" Campagnola said.

Once the prescription ran out, Nick went to the streets for his high.

"He just couldn't afford what they were selling them for out on the street and somebody offered him heroin. It was a very short dance from when he discovered heroin until the time he died," Campagnola said.

Tragically, Nick is not alone.

A majority of those addicted to opioids began by taking prescribed painkillers.

Lon Fricano is the president of Heroin Epidemic Action League in Auburn, or HEAL.

"People don't wake up in the morning and say 'I think I'll go for a run today and then I think I'll try some heroin.' That's not what happens. 82 percent of people addicted to opioids on physician prescribed medication," Fricano said.

Fricano said what happened to Nick can happen to anybody.

"We're at war. This is domestic terrorism right here that we're trying to fight," Campagnola said.

A war that Joel and many others fight to save the lives of those battling addiction.



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