Students hear powerful message about drugs

  • Mar. 16, 2011 5:00 p.m.

“I’m a recovered drug addict,” boomed former NFL football player Alvin Powell to a gymnasium full of spellbound Grade 8 and 9 students, teachers and community members at Queen Charlotte Secondary School on March 15. He said people ask why he always introduces himself this way, when he’s done so many great things in his life. And he said it’s because he still fights the demon of his addiction every morning, even though he’s been off drugs and working to help prevent drug abuse for over 10 years. Mr. Powell told the audience colourful stories of his early years in Panama and how he pulled himself out of the shocking living conditions his father provided for him throughout high school in North Carolina to go onto to a pro-athletic career – until he threw it all away on a serious drug addiction to crack-cocaine. “It’s not the aim of drugs to give you power, their sole purpose is to destroy you and kill you in the end,” he said. He also called alcohol one of the deadliest drugs of them all. “It’s killed more children than any other drug by far,” he said. Mr. Powell’s presentation ranged from hilarious to gut wrenching as he describe his years going on days-long benders where he lost all sense of time and reality (not to mention over 150 pounds of football player bulk), to selling drugs, to getting back on track, to losing everything again.Now recovered, he works as an addictions councillor in Montreal. He also runs a non-profit society called Saving Station Foundation and speaks at hundreds of high schools every year. Mr. Powell was on the islands thanks to the initiative of Erica Ryan-Gagne of Skidegate. She met him at a Young Entrepreneur’s conference in Vancouver in November 2010 and was impressed with his powerful presentation. She received support from a variety of islanders and local organizations to bring him here. Mr. Powell also spoke with students in Masset at G.M. Dawson Secondary School on March 16.