Opioid Awareness Evening Brings Addiction Awareness to the VC Community
The Valley Central School District hosted and informational evening for the community on opioid awareness on Monday, November 4, 2019 at the high school.
Many county agencies were present including; Alcohol and Drug Abuse Council of Orange County (ADAC), Catholic Charities, Keep it Moving, and Hope Not Handcuffs. ADAC set up it’s “Hidden Mischief Room” which is a simulation of a teenager’s bedroom with drug paraphernalia and symbols hidden in plain sight. It allows participants an interactive experience trying to find all the objects. The reaction of the participants ranged from surprise to shock at how many ways there was to hide paraphernalia in plain sight.
The featured presentation was given by Town of Montgomery Police Detective/Sergeant Guy Farina. Det./Sgt. Farina has been actively involved with VC throughout his career in the Police Department, for years working closely with the high school nurse and student assistance counselor to provide guidance and support on dealing with addiction with teenagers. He is a renowned expert in drug recognition throughout the Hudson Valley, and has provided training to many VC staff members. Of late, he has been pivotal in establishing the agency, Hope Not Handcuffs in the Hudson Valley.
Det./Sgt. Farina gave a thorough and informative presentation on opioids including looking at them through scientific, historical, political and cultural lenses. This included him explaining how they affect the mind/body from a biological perspective to the use of opioids throughout history with a concentration of their introduction in mainstream medicine in America beginning with the Civil War through the pushing of opioids in the early 21st century by pharmaceutical companies. The presentation included a montage of popular songs with lyrics beginning with Billy Joel’s “Captain Jack” through “Old New Town” by Lil Nas X that reference drug use. He explained the drink, Lean, that has been made popular by Rap musicians which uses codeine based cough syrup as a main ingredient.
Included in the evenings presentation was Karen Schuppe, mother of Brittany Schuppe, a VC graduate who died in 2018 after a battle with opioid addiction. Karen’s story of her daughter was poignantly told ~ she explained to the audience that although she is not comfortable as a public speaker she feels driven to tell Brittany’s story in the hopes it will prevent another such tragedy.
Hope Not Handcuffs, was also featured in the presentation. Hope Not Handcuffs is a coalition which seeks to work with local police agencies to help get rehabilitation rather than jail time for people addicted to drugs. A person struggling with any addiction can voluntarily walk in to a participating police department and ask for help. They will be greeted with support, compassion and respect. A trained Angel volunteer will be called to the station to help find treatment. Hope Not Handcuffs program is a community outreach program designed to reach people struggling with drug addiction to encourage them to seek recovery and regain control of their lives.
The evening was coordinated by the Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, Marianne Serratore. It was well attended and participants left well-informed on the topic. The VCSD administration thanks the agencies, especially Det. Sgt. Farina, for volunteering to give this valuable presentation to the VC community at no charge.