Science and Tech


Father helps students' addiction recovery after daughter's death

The opioid crisis is getting worse every year. The most recent data shows 109,000 people died of opioid overdoses from 2021 to 2022.
Posted at 8:21 PM, Apr 02, 2023

Like many daughters, Christine Ortoll was her father’s pride and joy.

"She was so wonderful and amazing and kind and compassionate that she held a lot inside, especially with her dad," said Christine’s father, Michael Ortoll.

But around middle school, addiction crept in. It started with alcohol, then, by high school, opioids.

"I was in denial; I made all the classic mistakes," said Michael.

Christine found sobriety for three years. But then relapsed.

In November of 2020, Christine became one of more than 68,0000 people in the U.S. who succumbed to the disease. A number that has nearly quadrupled from what it was in 2010.

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But out of the pain came purpose.

"I’m a data guy. I saved large public companies from distress but couldn’t save my own daughter," said Michael. "But look at data. 24% of students in college meet the definition of substance abuse disorder. That’s huge for me. Then less than 5% of all colleges provide a recovery community or program for their students. And I thought, ‘This is insane.’"

Michael not only helped produce two documentaries to raise awareness, but he also helped start a program at his alma mater, Florida State University, to help other students struggling with addiction.

"We went from seeing 2 to 3 students to over 1,150 last year – in our first full year," said Michael.

That program is now the model for other universities across the country.

And that legacy is what Michael says made Christine’s life a life worth living.

"There’s always hope. You’re not alone. And we wanted to make sure there’s always a community and connection for people," said Michael.

If you're struggling with addiction, know that you are not alone and that there are resources out there. You can call the National Addiction Hotline at 1-800-662-4357 to help take the first step in recovery.