Jessy Santini and her brother, Mikey, have a strong, close family. Unfortunately, Mikey's struggle with self-esteem issues led him to smoking marijuana to cope, and using steroids to get the "look" he thought he needed.
But it didn't stop there. Mikey began to use other prescription drugs, particularly pain pills left over from his dad's surgery. The decision changed his future and led him on a path he couldn't turn around.
With family support, Mikey entered rehab, but it was short-lived. A peer coaxed him to use heroin, and Mikey got stuck in a vicious circle of addiction, which his family did not immediately realize is a disease and not a decision. Mikey entered rehab programs nine times, and he experienced three overdoses. Each time, naloxone saved his life; the fourth time, it couldn't. Addiction took Mikey's life and forever changed his family.
Jessy shares Mikey's story with high school students to help them understand the dangers of addiction, the warning signs and the importance of speaking out when you see a friend involved with drugs. A college student herself, Jessy advocates about the importance of prevention and treatment. Her messages are powerful testaments to her experience:
- You can come from a good family, you can have good friends, but you're not immune – addiction is a disease.
- Your choices affect your future and your family's future. Things that seem like small choices can lead you down a path that could become your life.
- If you have mental illness or substance abuse disorder, or know someone who does, seek help.
- Saving a life is saving a family.