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E30: Grieving Father Changes the Conversation about Addiction & Recovery w/ Mike Ortoll

E30: Grieving Father Changes the Conversation about Addiction & Recovery w/ Mike Ortoll

Mike Ortoll’s world was turned upside down when his daughter Christine started abusing drugs and alcohol. Christine found recovery for several years, but sadly suffered a relapse and passed away from a fentanyl overdose in late 2020. In grieving his daughter, Mike started to think about how he could share his experience with other families facing addiction. Through a series of high-profile documentary films, including the Bowden Dynasty Film and another film documenting Christine’s story, Mike and a few of his Sigma Chi Fraternity Brothers are now providing support to the Collegiate Recovery Program at Florida State University (FSU), called LIFT. Mike also started the Christine Ortoll Recovery Organization to raise awareness, share resources, and lead a national “call to action” across the country of changing the conversation about addiction and recovery.

The CDC has reported that more than 100,000 Americans died of a drug overdose in a 12 month period from 2020 to 2021, and many of those deaths have been attributed to Fentanyl. According to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 80-100 times stronger than morphine. Fentanyl is often times added to heroin to increase its potency, or to be disguised as highly potent heroin. Many users believe they are purchasing heroin and don’t know that they are actually purchasing fentanyl – which often results in overdose deaths.

Anyone can become a victim of overdose, not just someone addicted to opioids. These days, most illicit drugs, also known as street drugs, are often laced with Fentanyl, so someone trying drugs for the first time can also fall victim to a fatal overdose. In the Tampa Bay area, one law enforcement agency has begun informing people about a dangerous synthetic drug that is turning up in local overdose investigations. Isotonitazene, also known as ISO, has also been identified in at least 40 fatal overdoses in a 2021 report by the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM).

Episode Resources

Christine Ortoll Recovery Organization

Association of Recovery in Higher Education

LIFT at Florida State University (FSU)

Center for Health Advocacy Wellness at FSU

Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)


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