EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU) — The CDC is out with a grim statistic: the largest number of drug overdose deaths nationwide during a 12-month period.

105,000 overdose deaths were recorded from early 2022 to February of this year. 80 percent of those deaths are blamed on opioids. A longtime advocate in the fight against drug abuse is helping raise awareness to combat this devastating problem in our communities.

Consider it a new weapon in the battle against opioid overdose deaths. It’s called “The Greatest Gift is a Conversation” sponsored by the non-profit Mothers Against Prescription Drug Abuse.

Its CEO, former congresswoman Mary Bono, says having a conversation with young people about opioids is something many parents are reluctant to have.

“People think it’s going to happen to somebody else, to somebody else’s family, to somebody else’s kids,” said Bono.

But according to the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office, that’s not the case. An average of 14 Pennsylvanians die each day from an overdose, and often it’s heroin and synthetic opioids like fentanyl to blame.

“What we need to do is arm our children with the facts and have an honest and open dialogue with them about the dangers of drugs,” Bono added.

The Mother’s Against Prescription Drug Abuse website encourages parents to take the pledge and promise they will have that conversation with their kids.

28/22’s Mark Hiller asked, “Some people, Mary, may believe that having the conversation with their child, they’re might be too young an age. My child is going into middle school. I don’t want to open up their minds to the idea that people might experiment with drug usage. How young is too young to have that conversation?”

Bono replied, “So, I don’t think that any age is too young. I think that beginning with kids and telling them that drugs are dangerous and be careful and, you know, be aware. I mean sadly it’s a reality.”

Another new tool to combat opioid overdoses is the FDA authorizing over-the-counter purchase of Narcan just last week. In the meantime, you can clicke here to take “The Greatest Gift is a Conversation” pledge.