Dads at a Disadvantage: The Intersection of Fatherhood and the Opioid Crisis

Publication Date
June 14, 2018

I am a clinical pharmacist at the University of Florida Health Jacksonville, a member of Drug Free Duval, and chair of the healthcare education committee for the North Florida Heroin and Opioid Task Force. However, my most significant accomplishment is that I am a father to three wonderful children.

Joseph Cammilleri with his three kidsMy passion for helping with the opioid crisis started many years ago while working with chronic pain patients. So, when I was asked to give the closing statement on fatherhood and the opioid crisis at the “Dads at a Disadvantage Community Conversation” co-hosted by the National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse on April 11, 2018, I thought, "this is right up my alley!"

Dads are at a disadvantage: Males are 25% MORE likely to abuse illegal drugs than females.

When a woman with an opioid abuse problem is pregnant, she is offered many free programs to help with her addiction, and even given priority access. I’m by no way saying that this is wrong, but what about the father? What if the father also has an opioid use disorder? Are there free or low-cost programs for him? Honestly, I don’t know, but I have never heard of one. Affordable or without charge programs are important because 63% of the opioid overdoses in the Jacksonville area are among the uninsured. 

Fathers, like mothers, are irreplaceable. They have a significant impact on the growth and emotional development of their children. Many would argue that a large majority of our societal problems can be attributed to the lack of fathers being present and involved in their children’s lives.

Dads are at a disadvantage: 62% of the opioid overdoses in Jacksonville are men.

It’s impossible for someone to be the father a child needs if he is suffering from an opioid use disorder. Children who live with a parent who have an opioid use disorder often live in a chaotic environment with little or no stability due to their parent’s drug addiction. They are impacted by their parent’s drug use on many levels and may experience emotional, behavioral, or substance abuse problems themselves.

We can work to help our disadvantaged dads through Awareness, Prevention, Education, and Support. 


  • Fathers play an important role in a child’s development.
  • The opioid crisis has had a significant impact on family and community stability.
  • More community conversations like the one in Jacksonville on April 11 would be a great start to raising awareness.


  • Prevent opioid use disorder before it starts.
  • Have real discussions with our children and adolescents about the dangers of drug and alcohol use.


  • Discuss with providers proper opioid prescribing and alternative methods for pain management.
  • Talk to patients about risks, safe use, not to share opioids, and proper disposal of unused opioids.


  • Increase access to naloxone to prevent overdose death and medication assisted addiction treatment.

Dads, you CAN take the advantage and be a great father and daddy by being:

Present – Dependable - Involved - Compassionate – Human - Playful

Because "Anyone can be a father, but it takes a real man to be a daddy."

Joseph Cammilleri, Pharm.D., BCACP., CPE, UF Health Jacksonville

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