CORTLANDT, N.Y. – The Cortlandt Community Coalition and Hendrick Hudson school district collaborated on a forum about addiction on Thursday, May 14, at the Hendrick Hudson High School auditorium.
The forum, organized by Colleen Anderson, coordinator of the Cortlandt Community Coalition, covered addiction, and the life and death of a young Yorktown man who died of an overdose in 2008. Justin Veatch died at home in 2008 at age 17 from an accidental heroin overdose. His father, Jeffrey Veatch, is a speaker known locally and regionally who shares Justin’s story in order to raise awareness of how complicated the problem of addiction can be.
One of his recurring themes is how fellow teenagers can help their friends by speaking out to adults about concerns. At this event, Veatch shared a documentary about Justin’s life and work, “Whispering Spirits.” Always musically inclined, Justin had a home-based recording studio, and his goal was to sign a record deal. After Justin’s death, his father went on to contact some of the musicians Justin admired most and shared his music with them.
Participants learned that sometimes, when a child is challenged by addiction, there is only so much one can do. The rest is up to the individual. Recognizing that a loved one has a problem is an important first step.
Student assistance counselor Angela Alvarado provided an opening statement to let the community know how prevention and early intervention have worked within Hendrick Hudson through the Student Assistance Program. She spoke about current trends and explained how people can reach her. Andrea Fallick, also of Student Assistance Services, moderated a panel discussion with Veatch, Alvarado and Rachel Schoolcraft, an addiction specialist in the Phelps Hospital system.
Alvarado responded to a number of parent questions, including the issues of confidentiality, especially when a student is older than 18 and subject to federal privacy regulations.
In a conversation after the event, Alvarado said that meeting the challenge of drug addiction in the community cannot succeed if it is an individual effort; it has to involve families, schools, government, community groups and especially those who are already aware that someone is dealing with addiction.
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