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Woman highlights opioid epidemic with eye-catching billboard displays

Published: Nov. 2, 2021 at 7:56 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - As the battle against drug addiction continues in North Carolina, one woman is drawing attention to the problem.

After losing her son in 2016 to an accidental overdose in Wilmington, Freida Macdonald wanted to raise awareness about the opioid crisis and decided to do it through billboards depicting images of the many local victims of opioids.

Macdonald has lost both of her sons — one to gun violence and the other to an accidental Fentanyl overdose — and now makes it her mission to make sure no other parent has to go through that heartache.

She is the founder of Know Hope North Carolina, an organization dedicated to addiction, grief or recovery, support.

“I do believe that for the remainder of my life this will be my mission because it’s truly a heart project,” said Macdonald. “And I really feel like my sons would be proud of me.”

There are currently eight billboards around Wilmington, each with the faces of those who have passed due to an overdose in North Carolina.

Thomas Jarrett is another parent impacted by the drug epidemic.

“I mean it’s hard enough for a family or parent to lose their child,” said Jarrett. “He was my best friend; he loved to hunt, fish, and he was just like any other kid. And you know, the fentanyl around here is just terrible.”

According to the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 80-100 times stronger than morphine. It is sometimes added to heroin to increase its potency, or be disguised as highly potent heroin.

Currently, there are two billboards that rotate around the clock; Macdonald says she is working on a third.

She says each one is a reminder to those who are battling addiction to seek help — and to those who have lost loved ones, that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

“Always have hope, don’t ever give up,” said Macdonald. “Just keep going and know that there’s somebody that loves you out there. And if you’re out there and you are in recovery, you are a hero.”

As Macdonald works to put up more billboards, she says her ultimate goal is to keep people from becoming additional faces displayed on these signs.

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