A year ago, a Boeing 737 Max aircraft crashed after takeoff in Indonesia, killing 189 people. Less than five months later, another 737 Max went down in Ethiopia, killing 157.
The grisly accidents produced an international uproar, and the Max jetliners remain grounded.
Now imagine a 737 Max crashing every single day. In America. Imagine the carnage and the outrage.
Here’s the thing. Opioid overdoses kill more than 130 people per day in the United States, the equivalent of a daily plane crash. Yet where’s the outrage?
America is negligent in the national opioid death epidemic. Maybe that’s because we have always felt drug overdoses are about shady dealers and addicts shooting up in dark alleys.
I have news for you. Opioids are crossing paths with your sons, daughters, sisters, brothers, parents and co-workers as you read this.
I got ‘The Call’ and cried for two hours
Parents: Wake up! Your kid isn’t too white, too black, too Hispanic, too straight, too gay, too smart, too popular or too cool to be affected. It doesn’t matter if he’s the captain of the football team or she’s the prom queen.
Opioids are killing indiscriminately. They don’t care who you are.
Your kids may well have been offered opioids already if they’re over 10 years old. That’s right – 10. Even our middle schools are dealing with an opioid problem.
Driving home on a Labor Day weekend evening, I got “The Call.” As a parent, it’s a call that makes the hair on the back of your neck go rigid. All I heard was a girl, a friend of my son, Eric Chase, whimpering.
In total fear, I asked: “Kayla … is he still alive?” To this day, I really don’t know why that was the first and only thing out of my mouth.
My wife, Adrienne, who was driving, pulled over to the side of the road, let out a scream – NOOOOOOOOOOO! – and then spilled out onto the busy roadway.
I gathered her, and we sat on the curb and cried for two hours as the traffic passed by. The world was spinning, and for the first time in my life I was genuinely lost and confused.
Adrienne just kept repeating “no … no … no … no” over and over again.
It didn’t make sense. Eric Chase was a good student, a better athlete and a great kid. He was my best friend, my only child, my son. And he was gone.
A Xanax laced with fentanyl
Eric Chase bought what he thought was a legitimate Xanax on campus at the University of Colorado, Boulder.
Apparently, this goes on all the time across college campuses, with students looking to “relax” for an exam or to combat the stress of a competitive academic environment.
The Xanax my son bought turned out to have been laced with fentanyl, a potent synthethic opioid produced primarily in China and Mexico.
He never woke up.
My life was altered that moment and will never ever be the same, nor whole, again.
A journalist’s tragic story: The opioid crisis hits home. Mine.
President Donald Trump, with whom I’ve been friends for more than a decade, called me that next morning. He expressed his absolute sorrow and empathy.
I remain grateful for that and many subsequent “checking in” calls from the president.
Six weeks later, Sinclair Broadcast Group executives offered me an opportunity to get the message about opioid dangers out to their massive national TV audience.
They gave me a television platform, and I took the message to 15 town halls in 15 cities across America.
In two of the cities, first lady Melania Trump joined me on stage. I brought in Cabinet secretaries, the federal drug czar, the surgeon general and countless law enforcement officers and first responders throughout the tour.
Together, we learned a lot about this epidemic.
My son will be saving lives
This September, on the two-year anniversary of Eric’s death, I joined JanOne as chairman and president. The company’s name reflects the new beginnings and clean starts we make on the first of the year. I am committed to bringing solutions to the opioid epidemic forward from this platform.
I plan to bring in doctors and researchers to find ways to combat a deadly killer in opioids. We will be developing strategies to save lives through nonaddictive alternatives to opioids. We will assess recovery systems and their efficacy (not their profitability).
We want to remove the stigma of opioid addiction so no other parents have to live the tragic nightmare I am living.
All proceeds from my participation in JanOne are going directly into The Eric Chase Foundation I created to bring awareness of the deadly opioid epidemic.
This way, Eric Chase will be saving lives, even if his couldn’t be saved.
Closer than you think: We thought we knew what drug addiction looked like. Then our nephew died in our house.
Let’s start with this.
Since drug overdoses kill more people in America than automobiles, guns and most cancers each year, I propose January as “National Opioid Awareness Month.”
I’ll be meeting with Jim Carroll, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, as well as the president and first lady to discuss this idea and others.
There’s nothing worse than to bury your child. My purpose on Earth is to save others from having to join me in this hellish fraternity.
Eric Bolling is host of “America This Week” on Sinclair Broadcast Group, host of “America” on BlazeTV and president and chairman of JanOne. Follow him on Twitter: @ericbolling You can read diverse opinions from our Board of Contributors and other writers on the Opinion front page, on Twitter @usatodayopinion and in our daily Opinion newsletter. To respond to a column, submit a comment to firstname.lastname@example.org. This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Opioid epidemic took my son. Parents need to wake up and fight this.