Shrewsbury – On Thursday, March 21, at 6:30 p.m. in the Shrewsbury High School Auditorium, the Shrewsbury Coalition for Addiction Prevention and Education (SCAPE), Shrewsbury Youth and Family Services, Inc. (SYFS), and the Office of Worcester County District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr. will host a screening of the Clay Soper Memorial Fund film “If They Had Known.”
Soper, a popular 19-year-old from Winchester, went to party with his old friends while home on a school break in 2015. The teens drank a few beers, popped a couple of Xanax and drove off to a house party. At some point in the evening, it became clear to his friends that Clay had had too much to drink. Thinking the wisest course of action was to let him “sleep it off,” his friends put him to bed. During the course of the night, the combination of alcohol and the prescription anti-anxiety medication caused his respiratory system and his heart to slow and then to stop. He was pronounced dead at the hospital.
“It’s important for young people and their parents to understand the dangers of mixing prescription drugs and alcohol,” Early said. “One bad decision can be fatal.”
The 30-minute film will be followed by a panel discussion and Q & A moderated by State Representative Hannah Kane (R-Shrewsbury). The panel will include District Attorney Early, Jennifer Rifkin, LICSW, SYFS Director of Clinical Services, and Nandana Kansra, MD, MPH FACP, assistant professor, Department of Medicine, UMass Medical School, Saint Vincent Medical Group, Shrewsbury.
State Representative Hannah Kane: “Students learning from other students experiences can be much more impactful than simply hearing from parents and authority figures the dangers of substance misuse, and the reality is that one wrong decision relative to using drugs and alcohol can be the very last decision of a teens life,” Kane said.
“A good majority of our youth is on ADHD medications, anti-depressants, or anti-anxiety medications,” added Christine Mowry, executive director of SYFS. “Today’s young people have no fear of pills and have access to powerful medication. They share their meds in high school and on college campuses. Whether they are on medication for a diagnosed illness or are taking prescription medication for recreational purposes, young people have no idea of the risks they are taking when mixing these medications with alcohol. It is crucial that parents and students alike understand these risks.”
SCAPE is comprised of a wide representation of the community joining forces to help reduce substance use and its consequences and impact among youth and adults in Shrewsbury. The Coalition includes representation from youth, parents, business owners, law enforcement, school and public service officials, community leaders, healthcare professionals, faith-based organizations, media, state and local government agencies, social service providers, and other community representatives working collaboratively to identify and implement community-wide strategies to address issues regarding addiction prevention and education.
Shrewsbury Youth and Family Services, Inc. is the community’s only private, nonprofit counseling and social services agency, providing a diverse offering of programs and services that help to strengthen and support youth and families.
For more information, contact Mowry at 508-845-6932 or [email protected].