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Opioid Education Initiative

speakers - Brian Dempsey, Joey DelSardo and Brianne McCarthy
Posted On: Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Brianne McCarthy, Director of Financial Investigation at Highmark started off this important presentation to Canon-McMillan’s High School students by asking questions. What she didn’t tell them was that anyone who answered got some free stuff from Highmark, like a water bottle for example. She asked them some basic, but important questions such as: What is Highmark? Who do you call if your friend is in trouble? These questions may seem simple but they are important ones to know because as Mr. Joe DelSardo, Community Advocate, goes on to tell the students – you never know when an addiction will hit.

Mr. DelSardo started off his presentation by easily relating to the kids in the audience. He said that when these types of presentations came to his school he would always tune them out because he knew that addiction would never happen to him. He was an athlete after all, who dreamed of playing in the NFL. He never would’ve guessed, however, that he would get injured in his junior year of high school and he would need “little white pills” in order to get through a game. He also didn’t know that it would take five years for him to quit and that it would take a gun pointed at his face for him to quit. When he first confronted heroin he said no but then after a while he said he wanted to try it just to see what it was like. He first tried heroin at the age of eighteen. Once he got into a situation where he was staring at a gun pointed in his face is when he knew that he had to quit. He said an investigation had started and he didn’t want to be apart of the investigation, he wanted to get clean so he went to rehab. He said the three things he wanted to leave the audience with was:

  1. Change the people you’re hanging out with.
  2. Change the places you’re going.
  3. Change the things you’re doing.

Mr. DelSardo then passed the microphone to Mr. Brian Dempsey, Drug Enforcement Administration at the Pittsburgh District Office. Mr. Dempsey went on to list some important faces about these epidemics that the students might not have known before. For example, Mr. Dempsey went on to discuss the difference between opiates and opiodes; he discussed e-cigarettes and juules. He also listed some surprising but important facts such as:

  • 3.6 million High School Students are vaping.
  • In 2018 1 in 5 High School students and 1 in 3 Middle School students participated in vaping.
  • 6 deaths were reported last summer in PA from vaping.

The goal of this program, according to the additional handouts shown below was to educate students, educators and parents in the community about the opioid epidemic. There document below also lists some addiction and recovery resources if you or someone you know is suffering. If you have additional questions about the opioid epidemic or general questions about the topic please feel free to contact Brianne McCarthy at 412-554-5521 or brianne.mccarthy@highmark.com

speakers with the police chiefsThank you to these speakers and representatives for coming to our school this morning to educate our students and staff. Chiefs of Police for Cecil Township and Canonsburg Township were also in attendance (pictured). A second presentation will be open to the community tonight at the Canon-McMillan High School Auditorium at 6:00 p.m.







addiction and recovery resources

the opioid epidemic - raising awareness

speakers for tonight's presentation

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