Speakers describe dangers of drug use to Berryville students
Speakers from the Positive Energy Affecting Recovering Lives (PEARL) foundation in Bentonville discussed the damage drug addiction can have on people’s lives with Berryville students Monday in the Bobcat Gym.
The PEARL foundation visited as part of Berryville’s Red Ribbon Week, and the featured speakers were young adults who have been negatively affected by drug use. Since the individuals are members of Narcotics Anonymous, they introduced themselves by first names only before sharing their stories.
Adam said he started doing drugs when he was 10. His parents had just gotten divorced, he said, and his dad offered him a beer, telling Adam he was “man enough now.”
“Narcotics Anonymous does consider alcohol a drug,” Adam said, “so that’s the first time I used a drug.”
When he entered high school, Adam said he started drinking all the time, smoking marijuana and sneaking out to parties.
“It started out fun,” he said. “I didn’t see any consequences. I still lived at home, so I had a roof over my head at that point. I didn’t know I had a problem. I never thought for one moment that it could be the drugs.”
Since he was growing up in Orlando, Fla., Adam said he and a friend decided it would be a good idea to get drunk and visit theme parks.
“I was so drunk I was asking random people to buy me alcohol from the vendors,” he said. “I asked an undercover cop. I got arrested and went to jail. I got released at 3 a.m. As punishment, my dad said I still had to go to school the next say. They take your shoelaces off your shoes in jail, so I had to go to school the next day with no shoelaces on my shoes. I was so embarrassed and hungover at the same time.”
After graduating high school, Adam said he started abusing prescription pills and selling drugs.
“I was 18 years old and was doing nothing with my life,” he said. “My brother came home from Iraq in 2008 and gave me a wakeup call. He said ‘You need to do something with your life. If you keep going down this path, you’re either going to die or wind up in prison.’ ”
Adam said he joined the U.S. Army on Nov. 11, 2008, and served for four years. He became a sergeant in two and a half years, he said, and was excelling in his military career.
“But slowly my addiction started coming back again. I started drinking all the time and doing drugs in my term in the military,” Adam said. “I got out of the Army and went to work for my mom. I became homeless and lived on the streets for a few months.”
Eventually, Adam said he found Narcotics Anonymous and got clean.
“I have stayed clean for two years in the program,” he said. “That’s why I love Narcotics Anonymous. They saved my life.”
Other speakers discussed their own journeys through addiction and recovery, highlighting the trauma and isolation that can spark individuals’ descent into addiction. They also discussed the impact of addiction on their health and professional lives because of felony charges they received when they were only teenagers.
The speakers from the PEARL foundation encouraged the Berryville students to live drug-free lives and to seek professional help if they are ever struggling with addiction.