Youth Services hosts “Community Conversation” about Drug Addiction
Mary Marcuccio, of My Bottom Line, LLC, demonstrates her passion to parents while speaking at the ‘Community Conversation’ on addiction. Photo by Daniel Atkinson.
By Danny Atkinson Reminder News. Colchester Edition.
On the evening of Wednesday, March 25, parents and students in grades 6-12 gathered at Bacon Academy to attend separate presentations about drug addiction as part of the Community Conversations series. The event, which was sponsored by the Colchester Youth Services’ Youth FIRST Coalition and Colchester Public Schools, attracted a crowd of roughly 150.
Parents attended a presentation by Mary Marcuccio, the founder and CEO of My Bottom Line, LLC, an organization that helps parents deal with young adults who are addicted to opiates. Marcuccio shared her family’s story and provided a comprehensive education about opiates.
Marcuccio began her presentation by discussing her family’s experience of having a son addicted to opiates for many years. Her son began using marijuana in middle school and began using heroin at the age of 15. Marcuccio said that it took her and her husband time to realize the extent of her son’s drug use.
“We set out to do the best we could and felt that our son would be protected from the danger of drugs as a result,” she said. “As parents, we mistakenly assume that there is a bubble around our communities.”
Marcuccio focused on the dangers of opiate addiction and what parents can do to help protect their children from it. She spoke about the ways in which adolescents become involved in using opiates, saying that it is easy for them to gain access to prescription pills, especially at what she called “pill parties.” Eventually, users can graduate to heroin, which is highly affordable.
Marcuccio said that parents must enforce boundaries for their children and avoid enabling them. Boundaries she suggested setting included guaranteeing activities they participate in are safe and structured, and not allowing them to have household access to prescription pills.
“You need to make sure your family environment is strong,” she said. “You have to give your children a reason to say no.”
Marcuccio discussed the warning signs parents should look for with opiates use, all of which she saw with her son. These include pinpoint and fixed pupils, sluggishness, and violent mood swings. She said that adolescent brains are very susceptible to opiates and that heroin gives them “the most contented feeling they’ll have in this world.” As a result, withdrawal can be extremely painful.
“Drugs and addiction puts a permanent wrinkle in the fabric of relationships,” Marcuccio said.
Throughout the presentation, Marcuccio constantly emphasized the importance of parents being educated and taking action. “You cannot love your child away from drugs. You need to make the community an unwelcome place for them,” she said.
“Until hearing her tonight, I had no idea that some of the effects of opiates happen to that degree,” said parent Laura Nass. “This presentation absolutely inspired me to get involved with fighting opiates.”
While parents listened to Marcuccio, students attended a presentation by Greg P. He spoke about his experience with alcohol and drug addiction at a young age and his battle to become and stay sober. Students said that they enjoyed the presentation and found his story relatable.
“They were able to hear the story of someone coming from a similar background and got a perspective about what life can be like if you start using drugs and alcohol at a young age,” Greg said. “They seemed very interested and receptive.”
Jennifer Martino, who leads the Youth FIRST Coalition, thought the event was important for the community. “I felt like this was a great opportunity to start a conversation. Both speakers did a great job,” she said. “Greg’s story hit home for the kids, and it was very empowering for the parents to hear someone discuss the warning signs of opiate addiction. It’s a message unlike any other.”