Opioid addiction is a problem that the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University will address on Saturday during the Bedlam game.
In their respective colors of crimson and orange, players will wear a sticker on their helmets that reads “STOP OPIOIDS.”
Terri White, Commissioner of OSDMHSA, said, “Oklahoma has the 10th highest rate of drug overdose death in the nation.”
While Bedlam divides the state into red and orange, this combined effort will bring attention to the opioid crisis because both teams have been impacted by the abuse.
In 2011, OU lost a player named Austin Box. His family has since created The Austin Box 12 Foundation. Austin’s mother, Gail Box, said, “It’s been six years, almost six and a half year since Austin passed away and the pain is fresh. My heart is still broken.”
Box was a starting linebacker at OU, but he suffered many injuries throughout his football career. Prescription drugs became an addiction. Box died of an overdose in May 2011.
“So many people, Sooners and Cowboys, walked with us through a very dark time,” said Ms. Box, as she realized the power of Bedlam. She said her son’s addiction was hidden.
“Maybe we can be there for other people as Austin always tried to be in his life,” she said. While this mother would do anything to change her son’s fate, she hopes Austin Box’s story will save other families from the pain of opioid addiction.