Pubdate: Fri, 11 Mar 2016
Source: Buffalo News (NY)
Copyright: 2016 The Buffalo News
Author: Lou Michel


Addicts' Families Form Web of Support

Families of heroin and other opiate addicts started meeting last year 
in Amherst and the Town of Tonawanda to offer each other support.

Some 500 people last week packed Buffalo's North Park Theatre for a 
town hall-style meeting on the deadly epidemic.

And as many as 200 people are expected to attend a meeting in a Depew 
church Wednesday in search of answers.

All of this represents a grassroots response to the epidemic killing 
hundreds of local residents and a belief that government alone cannot 
solve the problem.

"The reality is we need to fight this as a community," said Joe 
Kwiatkowski, who is the "recovery pastor" at Restoration Church Twin 
Village in Depew.

Health officials, drug treatment experts and police encourage this 
citizen participation.

"We know that opioid addiction is a pervasive health problem and many 
families are affected, some experiencing the death of a loved one, 
and that is why Erie County government is hoping communities come 
together to fight this disease and take actions to reduce adverse 
health outcomes and help those who have suffered losses with 
support," Erie County Health Commissioner Gale R. Burstein said.

The purpose of "Community Hope Night" at CenterPointe Church next 
Wednesday is to educate loved ones of addicts on ways they can help 
the addicted while not enabling them. In addition, the meeting will 
be a time for the family members to find solace while encountering 
the often troubling and uncharacteristic behaviors by addicts

All of that will not be accomplished in one evening. That's why 
organizers plan to use the meeting as a springboard for the start of 
a 12-step support group.

"We have to offer hope to the community and education can lead to 
prevention and that is the ultimate goal," said Mike White, who is 
part of a recovery leadership team at Restoration Church that 
organized the event and decided to hold it at CenterPointe Church, a 
larger venue.

The group will be patterned after other 12-step programs, which 
embrace a spiritual aspect, White explained. "For us, the spiritual 
component is Jesus Christ," he said, but added that individuals of 
other faiths are invited to participate.

Representatives from the Depew Police Department, Horizon Health 
Services, Kids Escaping Drugs and People Against Trafficking Humans 
Inc. will be at the meeting.

"There isn't one magical solution. It will take all of us 
participating to help with prevention and early intervention," said 
Anne Constantino, president and chief executive officer of Horizon. 
"We often lose sight of the recognition that recovery is possible."

Avi Israel, who organized the gathering at North Park Theatre, 
encouraged residents to attend Wednesday's event.

"I think it's fantastic. You want people to be aware of the 
consequences of addiction," said Israel, whose son Michael took his 
own life in 2011 while in the throes of opioid painkiller addiction. 
"Anything that will help a person or their loved ones fight addiction 
is a wonderful thing. Everyone has to find their niche of what works 
for them and use that to their advantage."

The event at CenterPointe Church, 56 Burlington Ave., Depew, will be 
from 6:30 to 8 p.m.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom