Public forum on addiction recovery aims to alleviate opiate epidemic in NY state

AMHERST, N.Y. (WIVB) — Community members came together to share personal stories of loss, recovery, and struggles with addiction.

“I struggled with addiction for probably 6 or 7 years. I started by using marijuana and alcohol when I was about 12 and I progressed pretty quickly,” said Robert Morrow, Young Adult Recovery Club House Program Manager.

Robert Morrow has been clean and sober for 5 and a half years. He’s one of the lucky ones.

“Fixty six percent of the people that come out of treatment relapse within the first week, ninety two percent of people relapse within the first 6 months. Those are horrible numbers,” said Avi Israel, Save the Michaels of the World President.

Avi Israel says part of the problem is access to treatment and a lack of support after treatment.

“I think the problem that we have in Erie County is access to detox, that’s a problem. We only have 2 facilities in Erie County and 1 facility I think in Niagara County as far as detox. We need more detox facilities,” said Israel.

Morrow has lived the addiction struggle. He says it took a lot of support to get him to where he is today,

“The pain and desperation was great enough that I was able to ask for help,” said Morrow.

But even after treatment the road to recovery is a long one, with no end.

“When people come out of treatment they need support, I don’t use the word recovery because recovery means that you’re cured. You’re not cured when you are in remission it could come back at any time,” said Israel.

Monday night’s ‘FOR-NY Recovery Talks: Community Listening Forums’ event was just one of a series of local forums being held across the state. Public comment will be included in a published report that will be given to local and state officials, to better educate the public on addiction and recovery.

Substance abuse experts predict that by the time 2016 is over, more than 300 people will have lost their lives to the opiate epidemic in Erie County. Overdose numbers are expected to double this year from 2015. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review. Note: Comments containing links are not allowed.

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