Thu October 10, 2013
Painkillers Kill More Than Pain: Aggressive campaign to fight addiction & abuse
Abuse and addiction to prescription pain killers has become an epidemic in the U.S., but now a major campaign has been launched right here in Buffalo. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Western New York is leading the effort along with more than 50-community groups and many local media outlets. WBFO'S Eileen Buckley says the campaign is titled "Painkillers Kill More than Pain".
Very personal and tragic stories of Western New York families who lost children addicted to pain killers unfolds in the theme of this campaign.
Radio, television and print advertisements were rolled out at Buffalo State College Wednesday.
Heartbreaking stories of the widespread of the painkiller abuse were unleashed to the public.
Family advocate Avi Israel lost his son Michael. Israel said he son became addicted to painkillers that were prescribed to deal with Crohn's Disease -- a chronic digestive disorder.
Israel's son took his own life because of his addiction to drugs like Lortab and Vicodin.
"Michael's death was a tragedy. There is nothing worse than a father holding his son while the blood drains out of him. But the ultimate Greek tragedy is that we allow this to happen every day, and that’s what we were trying to achieve with this campaign. We wanted to stop the dying of our youth," said Israel.
About a year ago Israel took his fight to Blue Cross Blue Shield to demand answers. That's when the health care provider decided it was time to create major awareness. Gretchen Fierle is vice president and chief Communications Officer at Blue Cross Blue Shield.
"Our youth are dying. 65% of young drug abusers choose painkillers, and that's in Western New York," said Fierle.
The campaign is designed to educate and raise awareness of this major epidemic.
Dick Gallagher, co-founder of Kids Escaping Drugs, said over dosing has now become number one killer among teenagers.
"Too many children are being loss and families being destroyed and the worst thing that can happen to any parent is losing a child," said Gallagher.
WNED Television produced a documentary documentary on painkiller abuse situation. It will air October 22 at 7:30 p.m. and airs multiple times on other local television channels.
The story will also be brought to area middle and high schools for students.
A large pledge board was signed Wednesday by a number of students from Buffalo State College, Health Sciences Charter School, Depew and Williamsville High Schools.
Students signed a pledge that asks them to be aware of painkiller addiction and work to raise awareness into the local community.