A major town-hall style meeting will be held in north Buffalo Thursday evening to address the region's heroin and opioid epidemic. Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown is teaming with Save the Michaels of the World. The organization was founded by Avi and Julie Israel who lost their 20-year-old son Michael to an addiction of prescription medication. WBFO's Eileen Buckley spoke to a woman who is sharing her story of addiction.
“It was kind of more self-medicating. Then it kind of progressed into a curiosity and then it kind of something that I couldn’t really shake,” said 20-year-old Lauren of Tonawanda in a WBFO News interview.
Lauren is former Sweet Home High School student. Her drug addiction began at the age of 12 when she got hooked on prescription medication for headaches that elevated to heroin and cocaine and drug overdoses.
“Even after the first time it was kind of, I guess, something that I used to cope with like other feelings I was feeling,” explained Lauren.
She has been telling her story through Kids Escaping Drugs, traveling to schools. She wants to share her addiction story and the lowest points of experience publicly to help others. Lauren said she hit rock bottom, using about 30-bags of heroin a day.
Lauren said she overdosed three times and was revived with Narcan, a life-saving drug.
“What was that experience like?” asked Buckley.
“I mean I didn’t really know it happened, when I did overdose, I was guess I was just kind of really confused and angry when I woke up because I went from having that blissful high to just being sick,” responded Lauren. “For me, it was my friends that had the Narcan, so it was never administer by, I guess, an official person, but if you can get into a hospital or some kind of treatment afterwards, I think that’s beneficial. But it’s kind of confusing when your friends are using it on you and their not telling you hey that’s a wakeup call.”
Lauren said she has been clean for eight months and is excited to stay on track. She's now at Erie Community College and tells WBFO she hopes to become a future pastry chef.
Thursday evenings forum will be held at the North Park Theater on Hertel Avenue. It will feature a University at Buffalo expert on addiction training, the Erie County Health Commissioner, U.S Attorney and the head of Buffalo's Drug Enforcement Agency. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m.