By Jordan Tillery, firstname.lastname@example.org
FITCHBURG — More than 300 Fitchburg High School freshmen watched in horror as Principal Jeremy Roche’s face became darkened and hollowed before their eyes on the projector in the school’s auditorium Thursday morning.
Worcester County Sheriff Lewis Evangelidis was using an image of Roche’s face to show the effects of different drug addictions using Face2Face software.
Five years ago Evangelidis began his Face2Face program to educate students about the facts and myths surrounding drug and alcohol addiction.
He has now presented to more than 200,000 students in the region.
He said he changes it every year depending what drugs are popular at the time. This year he’s added vaping and more information about opiates.
Students oohed while watching the reconstructive software transform the familiar faces of students and faculty members depicting what happens after prolonged opiate use.
One of the reasons he created the program geared towards younger students is because the majority of addicts who have shared their stories with Evangelidis said their addiction began in either high school or middle school, he said.
“Twenty-five percent of the crowd will never need to hear this, 25 percent are past this point,” Evangelidis said. “But 50 percent of students are still working through these issues.”
He held up Drano and other cleaners to show what chemicals can end up in the drugs that are considered “safe” and addressed myths about various drugs and alcohol.