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UFC’s Frankie Edgar says opioid crisis ‘scares the hell out of me’ during awareness event

The UFC featherweight title contender spoke to students in central New Jersey, a region rocked by opioid related deaths.

UFC 211: Ultimate Media Day Photo by Cooper Neill/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

UFC featherweight Frankie Edgar took time out of training for his UFC 222 title shot versus Max Holloway to speak to high school students at an event named “Knock Out Substance Abuse.” reports that Edgar and Brick Township High School assistant principal/judo black-belt and three-time Division III All-American wrestler Dan O’Cone showed off some martial arts moves before advising children to avoid becoming statistics in New Jersey’s ongoing opioid crisis.

The event took place in Ocean County, which is where Edgar’s home of Toms River is located. In 2012 there were 56 overdose deaths in Ocean County. In 2016 the number of opiate overdose deaths increased to 211. In all of New Jersey there were 1,901 deaths linked to opioid abuse in 2017.

The crisis in New Jersey is so severe that last year the state decided to sue the makers of OxyContin (per Fortune). Nationwide, the number of opioid related deaths is five times higher than it was in 1999, with more than 600,000 people dying between 2000 and 2016, according to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Any time I get a chance to speak on this issue, I jump at it,” said Edgar to “I was born and raised in this community. I still live in this community. I have three young kids and you hear stories [about opioid deaths] and it scares me, it scares the hell out of me.”

Joining Edgar at the Knock Out Substance Abuse event was Brick Township Acting Superintendent of Schools Dennis Fillippone, Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph Coronato, a high school senior who lost a brother due to heroin, and Trish Horner, whose son Christopher died at age 18 after he became addicted to OxyContin (which he first started using to treat a back injury).

The 36-year-old Edgar is a ten year veteran of the UFC, who first fought for the promotion at UFC 67 (where he beat Tyson Griffin). ‘The Answer’ was crowned lightweight champion at 2010’s UFC 112, after he beat B.J. Penn. Edgar is currently on a two-fight winning streak with victories over Jeremy Stephens and Yair Rodriguez.

Edgar’s featherweight championship fight with Max Holloway is scheduled for March 3rd. UFC 222 also features Stefan Struve vs. Andrei Arlovski and C.B. Dollaway vs. Hector Lombard. The event takes place at the T Mobile Arena in Paradise, NV.

If you or someone you know if affected by substance abuse, you can call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357). It’s free, confidential, and open 24/7.

Provincial helplines in Canada can be found here via the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction.

There are a number of UK based helplines for drug and alcohol abuse. They are listed here by the National Health Service.