WATD 95.9 FM // Published October 21, 2016 // By Lenny Rowe

QUINCY – Ending the stigma and creating positive change. That’s the motto for the Substance Abuse Symposium that was held at Quincy College.

A panel of speakers discussed how the opioid crisis developed, how addiction impacts many, and the road to recovery. Along the sides of the room were tables for community groups who provided information on support services.

The panel was moderated by Mary Jane Knox, Advisor to the Quincy College Addiction Awareness Club.

“This event is to make awareness throughout the college — for one, because that is my ultimate goal — but throughout the communities of Quincy, Weymouth, Boston, because a lot of our students come from those areas,” said Knox. “A lot of are students are into this recovery, they have different family members, if not themselves that are involved in addiction.”

Eight years earlier, Knox started with the program as a student when she told her own story of facing addiction.

Kaitlyn, a Substance Abuse Counseling Major at Quincy College, told her story of battling addiction.

“The lowest point for me, I was living on the streets, I had no money. I had one pair of clothes, and I hadn’t showered in weeks.” said Kaitlyn. “I just wanted to die, and my lowest point, there was just nothing. I had no feelings, no emotions at all.”

“What helped me out was that I knew that there was a way out, I just had to be willing to take the steps to do the right thing.”

Kaitlyn is using her experience to help others.

“I want to be able to help kids be aware of addiction and be able to overcome their addiction and achieve their dreams — like I did,” said Kaitlyn. “But if I’d known earlier, I would have done it sooner.”

Speakers on the panel also included State Senator John Keenan from the Norfolk and Plymouth District, Father James Hawker of the Quincy College Board of Governors, Lieutenant Detective Commander Patrick Glynn of the Quincy Police Department, Celine Cannon from the Gavin Foundation, and representatives from the Mayor’s Office in Boston and Quincy. Senator Keenan, the Vice Chair of the Senate Substance Abuse Committee, talked about steps that were taken through legislature to curtail the opioid crisis.

“Still a lot of work to be done,” said Senator Keenan. “Massachusetts is certainly on the forefront, from a national standpoint. Much of what we do is becoming national models, but there is so much more to do.”

The prevailing theme was to care for those who are struggling.

“There is hope. Yes, there are people are dying out there, but give yourself a chance — there’s hope, you can come out of this, ” said Knox. “We just want to make it aware that you don’t have to die from this stuff. You don’t have to die from any disease. There’s people here at this college, in this community, in the state senate that are willing to fight for you — to give you that hope.”

The Quincy College Addiction Awareness Club plans to hold another Symposium in April.

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