Since it’s the holiday season, we’d like to truly thank everyone who is helping to support and raise awareness for the Painkillers Kill campaign. You might be wondering how this initiative got started. It began with one family’s painful story that has grown into an abundance of HOPE and education for the community.
Save the Michaels: The story behind the Painkillers Kill abuse prevention campaign
Avi Israel, father of Michael David Israel, lost his son to suicide on June 4th 2011. Michael was known for his artistic talent, excellence in school and outgoing attitude that made him a joy to be around and interact with. Michael took his own life at 20 years old, less than 20 feet away from his own parents and following a deeply intense struggle with prescription pill addiction.
At the age of 12, Michael was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease, a disease which causes severe inflammation of the bowel and other areas of the gastrointestinal tract including symptoms such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, fever and weight loss. The chronic inflammatory disorder followed Michael for the remainder of his young life, leading doctors to prescribe prescription opioids for pain and mood alteration throughout his teenage years and young adulthood.
Michael’s father recounts his son’s struggle as he descended further and further into the “synthetic heroin” multiple doctors had prescribed him through multiple prescriptions. At one point Michael admitted a loss of control, confessing to his parents that he felt he had been abusing the pain medication, and when he visited the hospital for additional treatment he was only met with more, albeit different, prescriptions for more painkillers intended to “help.”
At the height of distress, Michael was admitted to a detox facility and after a week of treatment was released with an opioid counselor assigned to him for outpatient therapy. However, his own efforts, the efforts of his parents, and the help of the counselor could not combat the damaging effects of addiction Michael had faced throughout the majority of his life.
Julie and Avi, Michael’s parents, sought to prevent this pain from affecting another family and established Save the Michaels of the World in June of 2011 at their kitchen table, hoping to spread awareness and prevention against painkiller abuse. As the cause expanded, efforts to change New York State laws brought families together to share stories and photos in efforts to establish laws which expose addiction risks for prescription opioids and aid doctors in transitioning patients at a high addiction risk to a state of lower addiction risk.
Save the Michaels is now recognized as a not-for-profit organization which hopes to raise funds to reach out to schools, professional organizations and others and spread awareness and education about the dangers or opioid addiction.