Part Two Recovering Addicts talk to High School Students

This is part two of a report on a Drug Use Prevention assembly that took place at

Bath County High School last week. Two recovering drug addicts spoke to students to encourage them not to go down the same road they had walked.   Both men’s drug use lead to problems they could never have foreseen when they were in high school and using “recreationally”.   Ryan spoke about his experiences after being arrested for multiple felonies.

“I was in a pod in western Virginia, no less than five murderers in the same pod as me, and I’m just a little old country boy.

I had a newborn daughter that was born a few months after I got arrested, and I didn’t get to see her until I got out nine days before her first birthday.”

In addition to the trials in his personal life, Ryan explained to the students how a legal record follows you everywhere, and even when you are trying to start your life over again, employers don’t want to take a big risk.

“I’ve been out since September, and haven’t had a job. Been looking every day, so . . .

David said his rock bottom came when he was in a roomful of people and a friend was about to die from a heroine overdose. He recognized what it was to be some one he truly did not want to be.

“A bunch of the people just ran out of the room, people who were his good friends, my good friends. They just ran out the doors, and supposedly his really good friends, I mean here’s your good friends, and they’re running away from you, when you need help? Well, somebody finally called an ambulance, and the ambulance got there.”

The friend did live, but many do not. Since 2011 the rate of death from heroine overdoses has tripled. Virginia figures from 2016 may exceed 1,000 deaths.

David and Ryan mixed encouragement with warnings for the high school students. Both admitted probably if they had never taken the first sip, or the first hit, their lives would be different now. David continued.

“Drugs all begin with one choice. You either do it, or not do it. And you’re a strong person to say ‘No’. And I mean that. Don’t let any body out here say that you’re not cool, or you’re not this, or not that. Show them what you are. Show them that you’re an independent person that can say ‘No’ when you’re put under pressure. It’ll make you a better person in the long run. And all these things that you ‘re thinking about for youre future- saying ‘yes’ to drugs, you might as well just go ahead and forget about all that. ‘Cause I was going to play for Virginia Tech- I knew it, I was good at football.”

Playing college football was almost more than a dream for David. Other hopes would disappear too.

“I also wanted to be in the military. I even had friends in the Marine Corps, and in the Navy. Then I got a DUI one night. That was the end of that. You can’t do drugs. You can’t drink, and get into the military today.”

Ryan, who wanted to go to law school, acknowledged the loss he feels is huge.

“I can’t go back to school. That’s not a thing you think about when you have a drug offense on your record, you cannot get any Federal financial aid for college. You cannot get any scholarships. You have to come out of pocket for all your tuition.”

While it’s accepted knowledge teenagers act on impulse, Ryan shared some advice he wished he’d followed when he was these students’ age.

“Don’t strive to be accepted by anybody else. These people that you’re hanging around with now- you gotta look at these people and think, are they going to be my friend in five years?”   For the third and final story in this short series, please stay tuned to Allegheny Mountain Radio.


Story By

Bonnie Ralston

Bonnie Ralston is the Assistant Station Coordinator at WVLS and a Highland County news reporter. She began volunteering at Allegheny Mountain Radio in the fall of 2005. In 2006 she became an AMR employee and worked in Bath County for eight years as the WCHG Station Coordinator and then as the news reporter there. She began working in radio while in college and has stayed connected to radio, in one way or another, for more than thirty years. She grew up in Staunton, Virginia, while spending a lot of time on her family’s farm in Deerfield, Virginia. She enjoys spending time outside, watching old TV shows and movies and tending to her chickens.

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