NEW YORK — A local man whose son lost his battle to opioid addiction has been chosen to sit on the state's Opioid Settlement Board.
New York's Attorney General, Letitia James announced Monday the appointment of Avi Israel, founder and president of Save the Michaels of the World.
Israel's son Michael committed suicide ten years ago following an addiction to prescription pain killers. His death led Israel and his wife Julie to found the non-profit who's aim is to raises awareness of prescription and other drug addictions.
As a member of the board, Israel will help distribute up to $1.5 billion to communities across New York to invest in opioid prevention, treatment and recovery programs. The new law establishing the opioid settlement fund requires all funds collected by the state from opioid settlements or court victories to be allocated specifically for prevention efforts in communities devastated by the opioid crisis.
“I cannot imagine a harder thing than burying one’s child, but Avi Israel took his pain and channeled it into something incredible that has helped countless New Yorkers and their families battle opioid addiction,” said Attorney General James. “No one is more qualified in my eyes than Avi Israel to sit on the Opioid Settlement Board and help make recommendations on where these funds should go.
"The up to $1.5 billion in funding that we have already secured will be vital in helping to invest in prevention, treatment, and recovery programs, and will stop thousands of additional New Yorkers from becoming addicted to opioids. While no amount of money will ever make up for all that we have collectively lost, if we save even one more Michael of the world, it will be worth it.”
“Ten years ago, we lost our son Michael to suicide. He was prescribed in to addiction because of Crohn’s disease,” said Israel. “Since hearing our story, Attorney General James stepped up and held pharmaceutical companies accountable for misleading the public by making them pay more than $1 billion. Together, we have helped to create an account dedicated to the victims of opioids addiction and that will help stop future devastation. I am extremely honored to be asked by Attorney General James to serve on the Opioids Settlement Board. While the funds that will be allocated by this board will never bring my boy back, or any of the other victims lost to addiction, it will help all New Yorkers suffering from this horrible disease. I will make sure every single person gets a chance at life without addiction.”