Mepham’s Guest Speaker Stuns Audience

Sreeshty Ray, Staff Writer

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At the beginning of each school year, there is always the annual drug presentation. Students sit in class and find out they will soon sit through two periods listening to some expert discuss how different drugs will negatively affect your body. While a police officer or psychologist explains this at the front of the auditorium, this important information often bypasses students, many of whom are obviously on their phones.

Not this year—Mepham invited the most relatable speaker to date: Steven Dodge. Steven Dodge didn’t have a powerpoint like all other speakers. Instead, he brought a story that spoke to Mepham students.

On October 4, Dodge explained how his addiction began while he was in high school. He discussed how he couldn’t drink with limits at social events, and how this became worse over time. Additionally, he described his addiction to prescription opioids, like Oxycontin, after he was prescribed medication for a sports injury. From there, he spoke about how his life goals as well as his family relationships were destroyed by his addiction. Dodge had dropped out of college, and later discussed how he ended up living in an empty apartment. Like thousands of others who have experienced addiction, he had lost his sense of identity.

Then, he explained how he finally got his life back on track: he asked for help. He called a hotline and went to a rehab program, and now has been sober for years. He reasserted a common claim made by teachers, parents and other adults: you don’t need drugs or alcohol to have a good time. Yes, this sounds like a cliché students have heard millions of times, but Dodge made this a reality that students could relate to. He ended explaining how students needed to be aware of their own limits and answered questions on how students could help people they know suffering from an addiction.

Steven Dodge managed to evoke the emotion of a concept that is difficult to put into words: the true horror of drugs and the power they have over a person. Health class and other statistics may be enough for many people to avoid drugs, but hearing a real life story is the most effective for people who are at risk. Understanding the importance of avoiding drugs is significant in the United States where the opioid epidemic has been declared a public health crisis by the President, with over 72,000 overdoses on drugs, such as fentanyl, in 2017 alone. Around 600 opioid related deaths last year were in Long Island.

Mr. Gomez stated at the end of the presentation that there had been four overdose deaths among Mepham graduates in the past couple of years. Hopefully, Mepham is able to find as effective of a speaker for students next year.

If you, or someone you know, have a drug or alcohol addiction, you can call Long Island Interventions at (631) 887-3234.