On December 1st at 7pm in the Jenkins Auditorium, The City of Malden hosted a screening of “Generation Found,” a film profiling the lives of adolescents suffering from alcoholism and substance abuse while navigating their high school careers. The film told a story of academic redemption for teens who attended Recovery high schools, schools made up solely of students recovering from alcoholism and substance abuse.
One of the schools profiled in the film was Archway Academy, a recovery high school in Houston, Texas. The school was established in 2003 by parents with children who struggled with drug and alcohol addiction in collaboration with adolescent addiction recovery experts. Archway Academy operates like most high schools; they offer standard core classes along with language studies, electives, and a physical education program. They also have a plethora of community service opportunities for their students to partake throughout the school year.
The screening was free and open to the public. People with firsthand experiences with addiction had attended- some had been affected by it themselves and some knew of friends and family who had suffered from substance abuse disorder or the disease of alcoholism. Notwithstanding background, every viewer contributed greatly to the de-stigmatization of these issues within the community. Their viewership and attendance alone helped “keep Malden on the right track” and raise awareness to these heady topics.
Recovery organizations around the Greater Boston area set up informational displays surrounding the entrance of the auditorium that provided the public with details about their work in the community. Organizations such as AIDS Action Committee's Needle Care and Overdose Prevention, Court Appointed Special Advocates Boston, Adcare Outpatient Clinic, Somerville Overcoming Addiction, and Malden Overcoming Addiction provided the public with information on how to recognize addiction within their peers or family and aid them in seeking help.
Various city officials were in attendance and stayed to watch the presented film subsequently. Among those attending was City Council President, Barbara Murphy, Mayor Gary Christenson, former Malden High School principal Dana Brown, and current principal Ted Lombardi. Many prefaced the screening with short speech that served as a message for hope to those suffering from addiction in Malden.
Senior Marisa Vasquez was the newest and youngest of the representatives of Malden Overcoming Addiction or MOA. MOA is an organization with monthly meetings whose goal is to “remove the stigma of addiction” in the community of Malden. They offer recovery services and addiction support to those in need of it in the area. They aim to “spread awareness in Malden [by] [reaching] out to schools [and] resource places” in the area. They are composed of members who have experienced addiction in their families or witnessed it among their friends and peers.
Former Malden High School principal Dana Brown knew of Vasquez’s family’s struggle addiction and believed she would be a good leader and member of the organization. Vasquez describes that “[she] became aboard immediately” to Brown’s suggestion as she “[loved] helping people” and “had the personality to advocate and be a leader.”
Vasquez is currently a youth leader in MOA whose role is to promote the organization through social media. The organization can be reached at their main website, http://www.maldenovercomingaddiction.com and Facebook at Malden Overcoming Addiction. They are also on Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat and Snapchat, all under “Malden Overcomes”.
Vasquez says that MOA has “molded [her] into the person [she] [is] today” as it has required much “motivation, dedication, and determination” from her. It has helped her learn more about addiction in order to be an effective advocate for her peers. Her participation in the organization has made her realize that in the future she wishes to open a prevention center of her own when she is older. It has helped her “create, visualize what [she] [wants] to do in [her] life. MOA
Vasquez says that she “[wants] to see change in people” and knows that if her peers would “just make the right choice”, their lives would improve whether or not they are struggling with addiction. “Everything starts with [them]” says Vasquez. When asked why Vasquez believed why people suffering from addiction often chose to not seek help, Vasquez said she believed that people often “want to avoid the situation” and that drugs are just a “just a gateway to distract your feelings...[your] decisions.”
Vasquez says that the biggest lesson she learned as a member of MOA is that “you can’t control everyone in their decision”. Vasquez says that she has chosen positivity or over the sternness that most people with addiction issues are met with. She explains how society often makes people think that they [have to be mean” them but in reality, her “attitude and how [she] [presents] [herself] to people is of the highest importance. Her reaction to people is what ultimately can make them happy and aid them on their recovery.
Ultimately, through her participation in Malden Overcoming Addiction, Vasquez wishes to “make a difference in [people’s] lives, little by little.”