BUFFALO, NY-- "Painkillers Kill."
That's the message of a new community-wide effort in Western New York to battle the epidemic of young people abusing prescription pain killers like Oxycontin and Vicodin, which are as potent as heroin.
No one knows that better than Julie and Avi Israel, whose 20 year old son Michael killed himself after becoming addicted to his prescription pain medication.
Avi Israel: "We didn't know what it meant for Michael to be addicted. To us it was like 'you gotta be kidding me, what are you addicted to? You're taking your medication that you got from the doctor,' and that's what he said 'I'm addicted to what I'm taking from the doctor.'"
The message will go out through television, radio, billboards and on line at the website www.painkillerskill.org.
Gretchen Fierle: "Our goal over the next three to four months is to touch every single family in Western New York and to educate them and raise awareness, that's the goal."
At today's event, high school and college students signed a giant pledge card promising not to abuse these highly addictive drugs.
One of those signing was Channell Kay a charter school student.
Channell Kay: "It is a problem. When I was attending public school I knew many kids in my school who were doing pain killers and popping a lot of pills, it was ridiculous."
Channel 2 is a proud media sponsor of the campaign, which will run through the end of the year.