Church Pushes 'No Drugs' Message

By Alva James
Post-Standard (Syracuse, NY)
August 13, 1990

Sixteen-year-old Marlon Mason sat spellbound in a church pew Sunday as the horror of substance abuse turned into reality.

In front of him was a priest, a minister's son, and a mother who one by one described how their involvement with drugs stripped them of everything they had. And when it was all over, Mason said the message had hit home.

"You hear different people at church and home talk about drug abuse, but you don't actually see people like that get up and talk about it," Mason said. "It's like you wouldn't want something like that to happen to you. This changes the whole situation."

Mason was one of about 40 people who showed up Sunday for the drug awareness seminar held at the Central Baptist Church at Midland and Brighton avenues.

The audience, filled with both children and their parents, listened attentively when the speakers shared their experiences, and clapped to encourage them as they talked about the things they've been able to accomplish since they have been clean.

Ronald Otis Jennings, health educator for Family Planning Services, coordinated the program. He said the message is intended to hit "high-risk" areas.

the message the group brought is something that will be spread throughout the community.

"It's important that we start to hit the high-risk areas," he said.

Most of the speakers were members of a Narcotics Anonymous group that meets at the church 6 p.m. every Sunday.

But one was a Catholic priest, the Rev. Roy Drake, who drove in from Watertown to share his experiences with the group.

Drake, 60, who is now director of research at Le Moyne College, described how what started as social drinking turned him into an alcoholic, and finally landed him in a rehabilitation for Catholic priests called Guest House.

"I used it because I wanted to be sociable," he said. "But after a while I didn't know how to be sociable without it.

"Finally I couldn't stand being the person I had become," he said.


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