Grieving Parents of Star Athlete Fight Against Opioid Abuse
Athletes have been especially hard hit by the opioid crisis as they often are prescribed opioid pain-killers after being injured on the field.
Now, parents and coaches around the country are trying address this crisis. As reported by WENY, Austin Box overdosed on May 19, 2011,
Five prescription painkillers were found in his system during an toxicology screening, including morphine, hydrocodone and oxycodone, as well as anti-anxiety medicine.
“There is no question he hid it from us, but we had no idea until he died,” Austin’s father said.
Austin had a competitive spirit on the field. He started in football at the age of four and eventually played both offense and defense for Enid High School and linebacker for OU.
With his football career came injuries. First it was a fracture in a vertebrae in his back in high school. Then, he dislocated his elbow twice and ended up needing surgery. At OU, he tore his meniscus in both knees one year after the next and had surgery each time. In 2010, Austin ruptured a disc in his back.
“My wife and I have always speculated that that last back injury really emotionally hurt him more than anything,” Craig Box said. “It really set him back and we have often thought that probably was the last straw.”
Austin’s father looks back on his son’s struggle – “know that Austin was ashamed of his abuse of prescriptions. He developed two sets of friends. The ones that helped promote his abuse and keep it a secret, and those he knew would not be supportive. If there is one thing that I wish I could have told him it is, Son there is no shame in asking for help. In order to fight this epidemic of prescription drug abuse, we are going to have to stop shrouding it in shame. We need to treat it like any other disease.”
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To read more about how athletes like Austin Box are struggling against addiction, please visit WENY.com.