HealthVoices of Hope


His son battled drug addiction and lost. Now this dad is fighting back.

Posted at 2:05 PM, Apr 27, 2022

RICHMOND, Va. -- Since his son’s overdose death, Dr. Abu Abubaker has vowed to change the stigma of addiction. He also hopes to educate future generations in an effort to eradicate the opioid crisis that claimed more than 100,000 lives last year.

Abubaker helped launch the Adam Abubaker Lectureship Series at VCU Medical Center on Monday.

“I promised for the rest of my life, I would change the killer of addiction, everywhere I can and anyway I can,” the professor of oral and maxillofacial surgery said before a large crowd of faculty and students.

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Adam Abubaker was 21 years old when he died of a heroin overdose in September 2014. His father believes minor surgery to repair a football injury just one year earlier, led to his son’s struggle with prescription opioids and eventually heroin.

Despite spending 10 months in recovery, the illicit drug’s hold on Adam was too strong.

Adam’s death prompted his father to pursue graduate studies in addiction and to become an advocate and educator for future medical providers.

“It became my therapy to speak about it because everywhere, every single lecture I gave, I talked about him, and to that extent, I kept his memory alive," Abubaker said.

Aside from establishing the Adam Abubaker Lectureship Series, the professor began teaching safe prescribing practices to students and created a scholarship in Adam's name for students who want to pursue additional studies in the field of addiction.

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Monday’s inaugural lecture was extended to the entire medical community, and to others hoping to learn more about the science of addiction.

“Dental students, medical students, physicians, nurses, it’s open to the entire campus,” Abubaker said.

Abubaker hopes working with medical providers will not only dispel misinformation regarding addiction, but will help spread awareness, find treatments, and seek prevention for substance abuse disorders impacting millions of people around the world.

“It kind of comes down to I want to change the world, one student at a time,” Abubaker said. “The same time they teach them about diabetes and hypertension, they should teach them about addiction.”

If you would like to support Dr. Abubaker’s work to honor his son’s memory, you may send donations to the MCV Foundation, MCV Foundation, Box 980234, Richmond, VA 23298 or make a gift online to

This segment is sponsored by WHOA Behavioral Health.