HUNTINGTON STATION, New York, May 29
BY: Andrew Wroblewski
Drug addiction turns homes into war zones.
That’s the message Linda Sporn, associate of development and communications for the Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (LICADD), led with on Tuesday as parents and students gathered at Stimson Middle School.
“As a parent, when you find out that you’re dealing with heroin you are quickly immersed in a vat of hot oil,” Sporn, of Huntington, said after the Heroin Community Awareness Summit, hosted by the South Huntington School District. “You’ve got to get them help and often they don’t want the help right away, so now you’re dealing with timing.”
Can you get them help?
Will they survive until you get them help?
Will they go for help?
Will they stay with the help?
These are all questions that Sporn had to ask herself when she discovered her son, Jake, was addicted to heroin.
While Sporn was eventually successful in finding Jake the help he needed, it wasn’t enough to save his life. The 20-year-old, and former Plainview High School student, died in 2012 after eight months of being clean, his mother said.
“He used one more time and that was it,” Sporn said.
In order to help prevent other parents from going through the horrors that Sporn did, the school district gathered a few willing to speak on the recent surge of drugs – most prominently, heroin – that has swept through Long Island and its school districts.
“A lot of parents started calling us about some of things they’ve been reading… [and] really wanted more information and wanted to see what the school could provide, so Jacqueline Harris, the deputy superintendent, really got involved with a committee of parents within the district to try and establish a night like [Tuesday],” Edwin Smith, principal of Stimson Middle School, said. “The way we’ve been saying it the last couple of months is if we can save one life, we’ve done what we wanted to do.”
Headlining the summit were Matthew Pisani, executive director of Clean Slate Living, DEA Agent Charles Bernard, and Steve Chassman, clinical director for LICADD, each of whom contributed to the conversation by informing parents and kids where drugs come from and how they affect people.
“As a concerned parent… trying to raise kids and teach them the right things, you have to be really your own little detective,” said Dara DiGiovanni, who attended the summit with one of her three children, Joseph. “It starts with just a drink or a joint… It’s a crazy situation out there.”
To hammer home the sentiment of prevention, Harris took to the microphone to close out the night.
“From Memorial Day to sometime around the end of September are the 100 deadliest days,” Harris said. “We’re here on day number two… Our goal: We do not want to lose one kid this spring or summer.”
Originally published: Long Islander News: The Long Islander (Thursday, May 29, 2014; A3)