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Youth opiate abuse is topic of Clarence forum

An evening devoted to educating parents, grandparents and educators about the ongoing opiate epidemic is set for 7 p.m. Nov. 17 at Clarence Town Hall off Goodrich Road near Roll Road.

Sponsored by the Town of Clarence Youth Board & Bureau, the event will feature several guest speakers, including North Buffalo residents Avi and Julie Israel, who founded the Save the Michaels Foundation after their 20-year-old son, Michael, took his life in 2011 after struggling with opiate painkiller addiction while being treated for Crohn’s disease.

Michelle Y. Spahn, resident agent in charge of the Buffalo office of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, is scheduled to provide insights on how heroin usage has increased, particularly in the suburbs. A parent and recovering teenage addict are also scheduled to share their stories.

In addition, Clarence Town Justice Michael B. Powers is planning to provide an update on the town’s Drug Court and Youth Court.

Beverly O. Campochiaro, chairwoman of the Youth Board & Bureau’s 2014 speaker series, said the event is necessary to instruct the community on how to spot the signs of addiction.

“It is crucial that everyone be made aware of the signs and dangers associated with this type of abuse,” said a news release from the Youth Board & Bureau.

“Unfortunately, due to a lack of knowledge, the signs and symptoms of addiction often go unrecognized. Even under a doctor’s orders, these powerful drugs need to be monitored constantly. Prevention and education are the best tools we have to combat the dangers facing youth today.”