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Local Dad Fights Opioid Addiction After Son's Death

Phil Pavona
Eric Pavona

An Okemos father says his son would probably have been an accountant or a lawyer had he not died of an opioid overdose in 2011 when he was 25 years old.  Now the dad is on a mission to help stop addiction as soon as possible.

Credit Phil Pavona
Eric Pavona

Phil Pavona didn’t know his son Eric had entered the ravages of opioid abuse until it was too late. Eric Pavona died of an overdose on his parents’ wedding anniversary in 2011.

“There are two drugs you don’t want to play with - opiates and meth are the two worst. What meth and opiates do to the brain and how it restructures the brain and how it damages the brain- it’s terrible,” Phil Pavona said.

Sparrow Hospital says throughout a five county area in Mid-Michigan, opioid-related deaths are up almost 18 percent as compared to the same time last year.  Part of the problem is the potency of drugs like fentanyl.

“By the time it reaches someone like my son, it has touched five hands. You have no idea what you are getting. The streets are very dirty today,” Pavona said.

After Eric’s death Phil started Families Against Narcotics to serve as a support structure to help families beat drug addiction. Phil says if he found out about his son’s addiction earlier, he may have been able to help him beat it.

“I’m sure he was the life of the party at Rick’s in East Lansing. None of those kids bothered to pick up a phone and say Mr. Pavona, you know Eric is in trouble.”

It’s a phone call that may save any addicted person’s life.

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