By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great local journalism.
Sending a wake-up call
Seminar targets drug use, abuse at South Forsyth
WEB Drug Talk 2 es
South Forsyth High School Take a Stand members, from left, Rob Banks, Caitlin Cassidy, Mike Magliochetti and Brad Pannone share personal testimony and experience involving drug users. - photo by Emily Saunders
A seminar Monday night at South Forsyth High School may have been a wake-up call for some parents.

Administrators have taken the lead in providing information about drug-related issues to the community after an Oct. 3 scare in which three students were hospitalized after an apparent overdose on campus.

The students who were sickened, along with another student and her parents, were later charged in connection with the incident, which involved liquid methadone.

Monday night’s event was aimed at parents and students in the hopes of shedding light on student drug abuse.

During the seminar, South drama students presented three brief scenes that addressed peer pressure, drug use and abuse and getting help. The scenes were used to introduce different segments of the program.

What was likely one of the most powerful messages of the evening came from the parent of a former South student.
Maureen Durkin shared with the audience her story about her son, Sean, who is now in recovery.

“This is a huge problem in this community,” she said. “Yes there are great kids who don’t (use drugs), but there are a lot of kids who do.”

Durkin explained that her son started using in February 2005 while he was a sophomore at a high school in Alpharetta.
She said when it came to illegal drug use, her son “started off with a bang.”

“He started with cocaine, marijuana and got really, really drunk,” she said. “From that point on he smoked marijuana every day going to school.”

Durkin said her son’s grades never faltered and he was a competitive cheerleader.

“He was very, very active,” she said. “I never saw a change in that.”

Durkin said her son started at South his junior year and has since told her that the “easiest way to fit into the cool, popular group at South Forsyth was to start using.”

“This is him talking, not me,” she said.

While her son’s drug use may not have had adverse effects on his academic life, Durkin said it did cause family problems.

Her daughter accused Sean of using methamphetamine and her younger son avoided him. Durkin said Sean refused to take a drug test, but confessed to using marijuana.

“Red flag number 300,” she said. “If that kid won’t take a drug test right then and there, you’ve got a problem.”

She said a few months later she saw on a networking Web site that her son was using steroids, cocaine and other drugs. She and her husband then picked up their son and drove him to a rehabilitation facility.

On the surface, Durkin said, everything seemed fine. But her son had lied and manipulated her to get away with his drug use.

She said Sean today is recovering well and is studying to become an addictionologist.

The seminar also included testimonies from members of the South student group, Take A Stand, and from a former South student who is now in recovery.

E-mail Julie Arrington at