LEICESTER, Mass. — Eighth-graders at Leicester Middle School came face to face with a scary lesson about drug abuse Tuesday from Worcester County Sheriff Lewis G. Evangelidis.
Evangelidis presented the Drug Prevention Program Face2Face as part of the Sheriff’s Substance Abuse Prevention and Education Initiative for Worcester County Schools.
The Face2Face system uses special computer software to simulate the shocking effects substance abuse can have on a person’s appearance over time. Students saw firsthand the potential devastating impact that drug use could have on their classmates.
The sheriff’s presentation also stressed the disastrous toll that drugs have taken on celebrities, showing the startling transformations in health, reputation and appearance that often go hand-in-hand with substance abuse and addiction.
Furthermore, the sheriff shared his insights from the inmates he has met at the Worcester County House of Correction, explaining that their life stories almost always follow the same narrative.
“In 15 seconds I’m going to tell you the life story of almost every inmate in America today,” he said. “I was in middle school or high school, I started doing drugs, my family got sick of me because I stole from them, so they kicked me out. I ended up stealing from my friends, they kicked me out, so I started stealing from neighbors, then I got arrested.”
But the sheriff also told students that they have opportunity to avoid such a life of alienation from friends and family and the other unhappy consequences of drug abuse.
“You’re in this great school district, you have a great community around you and you have the world ahead of you to do what you want,” said Evangelidis. “Or you could blow it with drugs and alcohol. You have the choice, right here, right now.”
Leicester Police Chief Jim Hurley was also at the middle school Tuesday.
“I think it’s an outstanding program,” said Hurley. “It’s a great presentation, and hopefully it gets through and has reached a few of these kids. Its something we welcome into the community, and we’re glad it’s here.”