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Mom uses son's ashes to highlight how opiods are destroying families

Posted at 12:16 PM, Feb 15, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-15 18:25:24-05

The latest numbers are in and they show an upward trend in Erie County when it comes to opioid-related overdose deaths.  According to the Erie County Department of Health, there were 256 confirmed cases in 2016 with another 68 suspected.  So far in 2017, there has been 55 suspected overdose deaths.

Marilyn Gentile from Cheektowaga knows how devastating it can be.  In early 2016, her 26-year-old son, Robert Giovino, overdosed and died after a ten year battle with the addiction.  "I want his death to be able to save somebody else's life."

Gentile is now helping a new educational effort for families run through "Save the Michaels House of Hope" with support from Blue Cross Blue Shield of WNY.

However, to emphasize how destructive the opioid crisis is, the heart-broken mother brings her son's ashes with her as a powerful visual reminder of what families are dealing with.

7 Eyewitness News Reporter Ed Reilly talked with Marilyn Gentile and others about the new effort.  Watch Ed's reports to learn more.

You can get information about the new classes being offered through "Save the Michaels House of Hope" by calling (716) 984-8375 or by clicking on the following link http://www.savethemichaels.org/house-of-hope/

A $10 donation is requested but no one will be turned away.