On April 26th, our speaker was Rich Schenone from Georgetown Drug and Alcohol Abuse Commission. He had a very frank and personal conversation with the students here at TGS. He began his talk by sharing his own struggle with drug and alcohol use.

In college, Rich was an alcoholic. He had to go to AA and counseling, which helped him get past that difficult time in his life.  Rich had a good job as a middle school teacher in New Jersey for many years. Unfortunately, his struggle with addiction wasn’t over. Rich was in a car accident and broke his vertebrae. He was prescribed pain pills and became addicted after being on them for only three days.

Rich and his family moved down to Myrtle Beach from New Jersey soon after his accident because one of his children has rheumatoid arthritis, and they thought the warmer climate would help and he wanted a fresh start. However, things went downhill for him in South Carolina.

“You wanna know what’s cheaper than pills?” Rich said. “Heroin. So, I became hooked on heroin. I could get the same effect from pills for cheaper.” 

“I thought I’d move down here and do some fishing and crabbing, but instead I ended up homeless on the streets of Myrtle Beach,” Rich told us. After an arrest and a chance meeting with a former student, Rich was ashamed and finally had the motivation to get his life back together and go to rehab. After that, he became a Peer Recovery Counselor in Charleston. Rich would help doctors figure out which drug an overdose victim had taken, and help patients recover. From there, he moved back to the Myrtle Beach area and now works for Georgetown Drug and Alcohol Abuse Commission. Rich does many public speaking events.

Rich recently did a talk at the courthouse illustrating the difference between his life during his addiction and his life today.  He appeared in his former homeless clothes and shoes, left the stage, then returned dressed and cleaned up, highlighting the extreme change sobriety has brought to his life.

“The worst drug is the first drug you ever take,” he told us. We all would like to thank Rich for coming and sharing his story with us. 

By Emily