By Rylee Yerkes
On January 24th, the students of Salisbury High School attended an opioid and heroin addiction awareness presentation. It was held during first block for freshmen and juniors, and second block for sophomores and seniors in the auditorium. The “HOPE” (Heroin and Opioid Prevention Education) presentation is run by the Center for Humanistic Change, whose mission is to “engage members of our community in opportunities to prepare for life’s challenges through delivery of prevention education and life skills training, and programs that encourage healthy decision-making, positive choices, and peaceful living.” You can find out more about the CHC here.
The presentation was extremely emotional and moving; the presenters spoke about losing people they knew to addiction, and explained how hard it is to come back from addiction. Tina (pictured on the left) spoke about her son, who passed away from an overdose. She emphasized that anyone can become addicted, bright future or not. She said that things were looking up when her son sought out to recover, but addiction is hard to overcome, and so he went back to using heroin. Emily (pictured on the right) spoke about her personal experiences with various drugs, and the negative impact that they’ve had on her life. She explained how the “everyone’s doing it” mentality is harmful, and that no one should succumb to peer pressure. She told the students that most of the people she’d done drugs with had passed away, and that she wishes someone had advised her when she was younger. Lisa (pictured in the middle) was the main presenter, and educated students on the different types of opioids, how people become addicted to heroin/opioids, the differences of use, misuse and abuse, and how there is “no typical user”.
Students found that opioids are everywhere, and that almost everyone knew someone who had taken them. Students were also educated about “gateway drugs”, and how they more often than not lead to doing worse drugs or taking higher doses because people become immune. It was also said that people often do worse drugs because they think they could be worse. “Everyone knows that one person who’s doing worse than them, and thinks, ‘oh, well, at least I’m not that bad,” Tina told the audience. The presenters informed students that addicts have no specific look; anyone could secretly be addicted or become addicted. They also explained that drug dealers are never to be trusted, no matter how well people think they know them.
The presenters offered to speak to any concerned students after the presentation was over, and the presentation was held again at the highschool at 6:30 pm that day. Overall, it was a positive learning experience for Salisbury High School students, and spread awareness about the ongoing opioid and heroin epidemic in Pennsylvania.