Racing against drug addiction: Save the Michaels of the World

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) —When you think of drug addiction, it’s easy to overlook prescription pain killers, but a surprising amount of young adults choose pain killers as their drug of choice. One family helped to raise awareness of prescription drug addiction Saturday at Delaware Park.

For one family in Buffalo, the battle with drug addiction hit close to home, Avi Israel and his wife Julie lost their son after he took his own life five years ago. Avi told News 4,”Our son Michael passed away. He took his life, after he got addicted to pain killers that his doctor prescribed to him for Crohn’s Disease.”

After the tragedy, the Israel family took action. To ensure no other families had to watch their loved ones pass away, they started Save the Michaels of the World Inc. Israel said, “Nobody talked about the danger, nobody talked about addiction and when Michael passed away we decided we need to start letting people know the dangers of addiction.”

The foundation has grown into something much bigger than originally expected. With other grieving families, they have gotten legislation passed to make purchasing prescription pills more difficult.Their biggest accomplishment so far, I-STOP or Internet System for Tracking Opiates and Painkillers.

Israel shared, “Now every doctor has to look at a real time database to see if there is any other doctor that prescribed and all pharmacies are connected together.”

In order to keep the foundation growing the family held its’ 2nd annual “Miles for Michael” 5k at Delaware Park. The event brought out many from the community who faced the same hardships.

William Purdy, whose son died after battling drug addiction, said, “It’s supporting the others who have gone through the same thing I have. Problems with the opiates and addictions and where to get help now.”

The foundation hopes to continue to grow in the coming years. Next on their to do list: Save the Michaels House of Hope. This will be a home designed to educate, help families, and encourage recovery.

Avi told News 4,”The more you know about it and the better support you give your loved one, the better the success rate.”

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