By Janee Law
Larry Glenz, a Lynbrook native, spoke to a packed auditorium at Northport High School last Friday during its annual Recovery, Awareness, Prevention Week, to share his personal story about losing his son to heroin addiction.
In his speech to students grades 9-12, Glenz told the story of his son, Kevin, who started out by using marijuana, but advanced to prescription pills and then to heroin. Glenz said that Kevin relapsed several times on his journey to get clean, and died of an overdose at age 27.
“I’m not a drug counselor or an expert in anyway on the topic of how to stop this heroin epidemic that is killing thousands of American kids,” Glenz said. “The only real qualification that I have here is that I’m a father of a wonderful boy that we lost to heroin. I tell this story hoping that we’re going to help somebody that we’re going to prevent this from happening to somebody else.”
For the past seven years, the Northport-East Northport School District has been hosting RAP Week to deter students from using drugs.
Anthony Ferrandino, drug and alcohol counselor for the district, said the purpose of RAP Week is to “expose kids to different aspects of addiction and drug use.”
He added that “Larry’s presentation was the culminating event for all the students. Our hope was to really get them to see it from a perspective of a parent and how addiction affects a parent of a child who was using.”
Recent studies have shown that Suffolk has the highest rate of heroin overdoses of any county in New York State. There have been more than 1,325 overdoses – 235 fatal – in 2016 as of Sept. 30, according to a statistic previously provided by Suffolk Police 2nd Precinct Inspector Christopher Hatton.
“We’re in the middle of an epidemic and we’re seeing it kill the young people,” Ferrandino said, adding that ages 18-25 are being decimated by heroin use at an alarming rate. “You have a lot of kids that are experimenting at the high school level and trying different drugs so to have somebody like Larry present gives them an insight into how it affects the parent and how quickly it progresses.”
As a result, Ferrandino said that the response from students regarding the assembly was positive.
“I had a couple students in my office that have friends and family members that they’re concerned about so for some students it kind of shook them awake and they came and spoke to me,” Ferrandino said. “It kind of opened their eyes to this disease and to addiction and what it can do.”
The district also held other events throughout the week, featuring special guest speakers, activities and assemblies dedicated to raising awareness of prescription drugs, alcohol and other unhealthy habits, while highlighting the dangerous impact drugs and alcohol can have on a person’s life.
"Drugs are progressive and they have consequences, some are fatal," Ferrandino said. "It is a huge epidemic and our goal is to try and prevent it from happening and continuing."