Video campaign draws on personal stories to illustrate devastation of opiate epidemic

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – A new video campaign from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Kentucky aims to educate communities on the opioid and heroin epidemic gripping the state.

The four videos in the campaign (links below,) offer several perspectives on the opiate issue, telling stories from the point-of-view of a federal prison inmate, an addict in recovery, and parents who have lost a child to overdose, among others.

One of the videos, “Heroin Hurts,” focuses on the loss of former Lafayette High School student Pete Gifford, or “Pistol Pete,” as he was known on the basketball court.  Gifford died of an overdose in 2015.  In 2004, he was the starting shooting guard and played in the Sweet 16 in Rupp Arena.

Pete Gifford, Pistol Pete

Pete Gifford (Photo Courtesy: Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky)

The videos address topics such as the origin and escalation of the opiate epidemic; why a person turns to opiates; the nature of opiate addiction; what parents need to know to educate their children concerning the danger of opiate abuse, and law enforcement efforts to combat the problem.

“To win this fight, we must clearly understand what we’re up against,” said U.S. Attorney Harvey. “We must acknowledge that the opioid epidemic threatens every segment of our community and we must eliminate the false stereotypes and misperceptions that hamper our efforts. These videos provide important insights from those who, in one way or another, have been deeply affected by this epidemic. These videos will compliment what our families from the USA HEAT program are already doing in their presentations to community.”

The campaign includes a social media strategy that has the potential to reach 1.7 million people in the eastern half of Kentucky using Facebook.

Below is a list and description of the videos:

Heroin’s Hold (22:30): A history and current state of the opioid epidemic. Medical, public health, and law enforcement professionals explore the relationship between widespread use of prescription opioids and the heroin epidemic. Addicts tell their stories of the power of addiction. Families share their stories and advice after overdose deaths.

Heroin is Here (4:09): Federal prosecutor and DEA Special Agent explore the history and current state of the opioid epidemic, including the prevalence of heroin and fentanyl, and the federal government’s drug enforcement response.

Heroin is Hell (4:09): Recovering addicts and their families share their stories of the path and power of opioid addiction and the struggle to overcome addiction.

Heroin Hurts (4:19): Families tell about the struggle of opioid addiction and tragedy of heroin and fentanyl overdose deaths.

To learn more about the United States Attorney’s fight against Kentucky’s heroin epidemic, please visit USA HEAT at, or Google “U.S. Attorney’s HEAT.”

Heroin’s Hold

Heroin is Hell:

Heroin Hurts:

Heroin is here:

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