Assembly Teaches Students About Dangers Of Drug, Alcohol Addiction

David Sherrell from FCD Educational Services shares his experiences of addiction with students at the Wardlaw-Hartridge School in Edison (Photo courtesy of Wardlaw-Hartridge School)

EDISON — On Friday, April 20, three speakers from FCD Educational Services shared their personal experiences with drug and alcohol addiction with Upper School students at The Wardlaw-Hartridge School in Edison in a morning assembly. They offered rotating workshops to freshmen, sophomores and juniors, while the seniors watched the powerful documentary “Haze.”

FCD Educational Services has worked with hundreds of schools around the world for the past 30 years to provide students with the knowledge, understanding and the skills needed to make intelligent, healthy choices to help avoid addiction to alcohol and drugs.

For those who want to know more about the dangers of drug addiction, this site provides information and a hotline that they can call should they find themselves in the middle of drug emergency.

“I greatly enjoyed the FCD seminar,” Brianna Gutierrez of Metuchen said. “It was quite unconventional in the sense that the preachers were former addicts. What better way to understand the dangers of drugs and alcohol than by hearing about it from first hand accounts? The stories were very personal and many could relate to them. One of the speakers had a twin like me so I could relate to his story on a deeper level. All of the stories were told in a casual setting so we were more comfortable asking questions. All in all I truly enjoyed the experience.”

All three speakers were powerful and motivating. John Tummon covered “Healthy Decision Making: What Does It Look Like?: He shared his personal experiences of addiction along with some sobering statistics about how 90 percent of alcoholics begin drinking before the age of 18. Tummon stressed that it’s a very dangerous decision to include chemicals in your system because they interfere with the healthy process in your brain.

Glenn Hall, who introduced himself as “Mr. G”, made a presentation called “Marijuana: How Harmless Is It?” Hall has been a prevention specialist since 1996. He spent 22 years addicted to five different drugs. He spoke to the students about his experiences and stressed that addiction is a disease.

David Sherrell, another prevention specialist, did lots of drinking in college and did not graduate. He shared his personal experiences of addiction in his discussion entitled “Study Drugs” and defined being “high” as a specific change in brain chemistry.

“I thought the assembly was very insightful in explaining the effects of addiction to alcohol and other drugs,” Chase Levitt of Scotch Plains said. “The representatives demonstrated that they have a thorough knowledge of the addiction process.”

“The FCD presentation was so startling to me,” Mairead Forrest of Parlin said. “When I think about addicts, I think about people that have succumbed to the disease. It was inspirational to see these men who chose to leave their demons behind them, and then have the strength to speak to us about it.”

While the underclassmen learned from the FCD speakers, the senior class watched a documentary depicting the harmful effects of alcohol and drugs. The film presented graphic images of college students binge drinking and real life examples of alcohol poisoning.

“I think watching this documentary brought the seniors’ attention to an under-reported topic and served to make us more aware about the issue,” Marisa Carlucci of Edison said.

Whether watching the film or listening to one of the speakers, students came away from the morning assembly with an important lesson.

“It made more of an impact to me coming from a person who actually has had experience about what drugs does to you. Listening to people who have been through an experience gives you a better experience than coming from a person who hasn’t gone through it,” Brian Machoka of Edison said. “Indeed, this assembly will stay in my mind for years to come.”


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