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On September 29th, 2012, Stephen Hill had his last drink/drug. Before he was blessed with the gift of sobriety, Stephen suffered in active addiction for over a decade. With multiple failed attempts at recovery, it seemed like there was no hope. After numerous detoxes and treatment programs, Stephen’s drug use persisted. Not even the criminal justice system could stop him from abusing prescription painkillers on a daily basis.
The disease of addiction completely took over Stephen’s life. He lost interest in education, athletics, and even his own well-being. Growing up, Stephen found his identity in sports, but let his athletic abilities go to waste after he began using drugs. Stephen finally hit rock bottom and entered his final treatment program in 2012. He ended up staying in this program for a full year. Slowly but surely, Stephen began to put his life back together. Family, friends, sports, health, fitness, wellness, and helping others became the top priorities in Stephen’s life.
After completing his first year of sobriety, Stephen was offered a full time position to work at the same treatment program he had just gone through himself. Just before entering his third year of recovery, he decided to go back to college. Stephen graduated from John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and is currently a student at Brooklyn Law School.
On his days off, he started to share his story to single classes at high schools and middle schools. Stephen soon realized he had found both his passion and calling in life. In no time, Stephen was presenting to entire schools, at community events and at town hall meetings in front of hundreds of people.
In May of 2018, with the help of his former SAT tutor, Marc Hoberman, Stephen published his memoir A Journey to Recovery. Stephen’s memoir was the #1 New Release in Drug Dependency on Amazon. Some of the personal experiences that Stephen shares are difficult for him to talk about, but he feels it’s worth it if his story helps just one person.
Stephen gives a heartfelt presentation about his personal struggles with substance abuse, journey to recovery, and highlights the many benefits of living a clean and sober lifestyle today. As a young man, he has a remarkable ability to relate his story to the students in the audience.
Stephen acknowledges the everyday pressures and temptations that middle school, high school and college students are faced with, and offers guidance to successfully overcome these challenges. Gateway drugs, decision making under the influence, binge drinking, prescription drugs, social media, stigma, peer pressure, bullying, anxiety, depression, criminal justice, breaking the silence, wellness, and finding your passion are among some of the topics discussed throughout the presentation. Stephen will always reserve time at the end to field questions, as he believes keeping an open line of communication to be a vital part of the program.
When speaking to parents, Stephen is sure to place a great deal of emphasis on prevention through protection. Using his personal experiences with his own parents, as well as knowledge gained while working in the field of recovery, Stephen pinpoints potential threats and warning signs for parents to look out for. By expressing the trial and error process he and his family went through before finally achieving sobriety, Stephen hopes families can avoid some of the costly hardships that were a part of his journey.
As an avid believer in the disease concept, Stephen will explain addiction as a fatal progressive illness. He will touch on enabling, denial, secrets, under age drinking parties, the criminal justice system, triggers, and parent support groups throughout the presentation.
“The greatest thing we can achieve in life is when we realize our gift! Stephen has done that!! He is inspiring as a speaker to all that are present and his message on making good choices and sobriety are clear. Stephen thank you for coming to our school and relating so well to the students! I highly recommend Stephen Hill to any school. His honest and inspiring story on sobriety is a powerful message!”
– Jackie Laurenzano, Director of Guidance , Nanuet High School
“To say it was powerful for Stephen to share his story so candidly with our students would be a complete understatement! As long as I’ve worked here, we’ve never gotten so much unanimous positive feedback about a speaker. He is engaging, honest, relatable, and real; which are the qualities our students really responded to. His message is so important for everyone to hear. I genuinely believe his assembly made a difference and that his words will save at least one life. Powerful stuff!”
– Heather Buono, Student Assistance Counselor, Fox Lane High School
“It was an honor and a wonderful resource to have Stephen address our middle and high school students. He was honest, open, engaging and captured the attention of all students and community members in attendance. His message was clear, relevant and most appropriate. He is an excellent role model and students gained a close perspective of the pitfalls and hurdles he has faced. I would highly recommend Stephen to speak about sobriety to all schools.”
– Dr. Dean Schlanger, Principal, Manhasset Secondary School
“Stephen presented his story of recovery and hope to our middle and high school students. Our students were actively listening to every word. After each presentation, Stephen made himself available to any students who wished to speak with him directly. In small groups, students met with Stephen, and had meaningful dialogue on the topics he spoke of. Throughout the day, both students and staff commented on how much they appreciated his message of wellness.”
“That evening, Stephen made a presentation to the community. It was very well attended. At the conclusion, parents commented that their children came home from school and talked to them about Stephen’s message.”
“Stephen is a young man who has a gift to share with his audience. He is sincere, honest, engaging and kind. Stephen reaches students and adults alike, as he shares his story of finding sobriety, doing the next right thing, and being the best he can be. I highly recommend Stephen Hill to any school or organization that would appreciate his inspiring and powerful message of sobriety.”
– Craig Rush, Student Assistance Counselor, Midland Park Jr/Sr High School
“Stephen Hill—what an extraordinary young man with a powerful personal story of his battle with drug addiction for ten years! Immaculata HS was honored to have Stephen share his story and insights with our student body and parents. He engaged both audiences immediately with a sincere, clear and relevant message. He fielded many questions after his presentation to ensure that students understood the hurdles he faced to reach sobriety today. I would highly recommend Stephen Hill as a wonderful resource to speak about sobriety to all schools.”
– Jean Kline, Principal, Immaculata High School
“Stephen exhibited a talent for captivating our students and engaging each individual with his story. Our students were enamored by his tale and Stephen offered time for our students to approach with their curiosities as he shared a courteous and judgment-free address to each. Stephen’s perspective enlightened our students and had a resounding impact on their perception of substance abuse; from early exposure and decision-making through rehabilitation and recovery. We are grateful for Stephen’s message and influence on our students.”
– Daniel Madden, Assistant Head of School, The Smith School
“You could hear a pin drop in our auditorium while Stephen Hill addressed our student body. Our middle school has had many assemblies in reference to substance abuse, but Mr. Hill’s heartfelt account moved our students towards a greater understanding of how drugs can have such a powerful impact. His rapport with his audience provides a comfortable environment for such a difficult topic. “
– Matt Clark, Principal, North Country Road Middle School
“Mr. Hill presented his real life experience with drug addiction and his eventual path to sobriety to our entire student body and you could hear a pin drop. His unassuming demeanor, relatability and relevant story was the perfect combination to keep our students engaged. He shared his cautionary tale and ended with powerful words of wisdom to help guide our students to make good decisions in high school and beyond. The message was positive and impactful. The feedback from students, faculty and parents was extremely positive and I would highly recommend having him to present to students and parents everywhere.”
– Carisa Burzynski, Principal, Elwood-John Glenn High School
“Our entire community truly appreciated Stephen’s candor and willingness to share his story. He did an excellent job bringing us into his personal struggle and making it very real. He was able to connect with our students without lecturing or condescending. Several students stayed back to speak with Stephen personally, andmany more have stopped in to my office to offer sincere appreciation for inviting him to campus.”
– Dave Pasquale, Dean of Students, Gill St. Bernard’s School
“I have had the pleasure of listening to Stephen present at two separate school districts. Stephen does an amazing job connecting with the students. Stephen’s story and his interpersonal skills allow students to listen, absorb and feel safe asking questions. Stephen has the unique ability to reach students about a very challenging topic, during a critical time in their lives. Stephen’s story and message is one that all students would benefit from hearing.”
– Linda Losquadro, Student Assistance Counselor, Washingtonville Middle School
“We so appreciated Stephen coming back to the school he once attended to speak with our 8th grade students. His message is powerful! Your choices impact who you are and what you become and if you make your choices while impaired by drugs or alcohol it can lead to awful consequences. Stephen is impactful as he relates to the students. They see a reflection of themselves in him and that makes his message more powerful than any I’ve seen before. Thank you for coming to our school and telling your story!”
– Brian Fox, Principal, Suffern Middle School
“Mr. Stephen Hill recently visited Washingtonville Middle School to speak to our 8th grade students. He delivered a very powerful and honest message about his experiences with substance abuse. He shared with students how he was first introduced to drugs and alcohol when he was in 8th grade. Students were gripped as he lead them through his journey of addiction. What made this so compelling for our students was that they could identify with Stephen in many ways whether is was that he came from a solid family, he was an athlete, and was earning good grades. They could identify with peer pressure and a desire to gain acceptance by older students. Stephen could have been any student sitting in that audience. He graciously spent a lot of time with our students after the presentation to answer any and all questions.”
– Teresa Thompson, Principal, Washingtonville Middle School
“Port Chester Cares had the pleasure to recruit Stephen Hill from Speak Sobriety to speak to over 1,000 students at Port Chester Middle School. He delivered a strong message that kept students engaged and were captivated to learn about his life experiences with substance abuse. His professionalism and honesty were an evident connection with our students, in sum, he spoke to them at their level in a way they were able to understand and digest how serious substance abuse is. Stephen would be an asset to any school, and we are happy to give him our highest endorsement and recommend him without any hesitation!”
– Alex Payan, Director, Port Chester Cares Community Coalition
“Paramus Catholic High School had the pleasure of having Stephen Hill deliver a very powerful message regarding the dangers of substance abuse. Stephen was thought provoking, honest and engaging. His personal journey serves as a cautionary tale for all teenagers. There were over eight hundred faculty and students in attendance, and you could hear a pin drop. Stephen’s important message was sent and clearly received by all. Following his presentation, Stephen met with students on a 1:1 basis for well over an hour to address further questions.”
– Lauren Daniell, Dean of Guidance, Paramus Catholic High School
“One of the best assemblies we’ve had in years! Stephen’s story is real, honest and captivating. Students leave with a greater awareness of the negative impact substance abuse can have on an individual’s life, family and future success”
– Gina Horton, Assistant Principal, Herricks Middle School
“Stephen Hill has a story that is both a cautionary tale and hopeful for the future. His account is detailed and students were captivated throughout his presentation. Stephen conveys his account of addiction through his eyes, and by relating it to high school students’ day to day struggles, they can connect with and relate to Stephen. In an era where information is readily available, students don’t want to be scared straight or lied to…which is why his straightforward message of “the choice is yours” resonates with students. Staying around to answer questions and meet with students only solidified his message of Speak Sobriety.”
– Bryan Hodge, Assistant Principal, Herricks High School
“Stephen presented his story to our 11th and 12th graders. As soon as he started speaking, our very enthusiastic group became very quiet. Stephen’s story had a way of capturing an entire audience. It was engaging and relatable, and our students were able to really understand how addiction can affect anyone, no matter their childhood experiences. It was a tastefully done presentation considering the subject and many students stayed after to talk to Stephen personally.”
– Jodi Weisberger, Student Assistance Counselor, Lakeland High School
“Here at Lakeland, our upperclassmen were truly engaged by your story. While listening to the details of your life’s ups and downs, they instantly connected and were extremely interested in hearing your story through. Our students were able to see and hear how addiction can affect anyone no matter who you are, where you are from, or your childhood experiences. They really enjoyed your presentation!”
– Chris Cummings, Principal, Lakeland High School
“We were so happy to have Stephen Hill speak to our students and parents in our community. Even as a small number of students attempted to distract from the presentation at the beginning, they were quickly drawn in to Stephen’s ability to connect with the audience. Our auditorium of hundreds of 11th and 12th Grade students was captivated by his story that described his harrowing experience of addiction, journey to recovery, and his current gratitude for the things that his life of sobriety has rewarded him with. He spoke to parents in the evening, with equal interest. I had people follow up with me; teens, faculty, and parents, telling me how moved and inspired they were by his story. Without hesitation, I wholeheartedly recommend him as a speaker for both adolescents and adults!”
– Danielle Gamar, Student Assistance Counselor, Walter Panas High School
“Stephen Hill presented to our entire student body. He sent a strong message regarding the vulnerability of our students to the drug problem that exists in our communities. I thought what truly engaged the students was that they could identify with Stephen as his presentation was delivered at their level and they could see themselves and their peers through Stephen.”
– Christopher Power, Principal, Albertus Magnus High School
“I have heard Stephen Hill speak at two well attended public forums about his remarkable journey as a young drug addict. Individuals who have personally experienced the world of addiction can often provide valuable insight to addicts and their families. Stephen is truly an outstanding speaker and has demonstrated a unique and exceptional ability to connect with his audience, educate them on this deadly disease, and provide a sense of hope. I am grateful to him for his selfless commitment to helping others.”
– Thomas Zugibe, Rockland County District Attorney
“Stephen Hill provided two student assemblies at Nanuet High School. Students and faculty alike felt his message was extremely powerful and that it left a lasting impact. Stephen is professional, reliable and great to work with! Students are still talking about his presentation and we would be happy to have him return!”
– Alison Kersh, School Social Worker, Nanuet High School
“I have heard Stephen Hill speak both in a high school and a community forum. He tells his story with honesty and humility. He has a genuine desire to help others, and a wonderful ability to connect and engage teens, adults, substance users, family members and professionals. I highly recommend him!”
– Susan Solar, LCSW, Clarkstown South High School
“Drug addiction is one of those topics that is so important to educate the middle school child about. However, it must be done in a way where students can relate without being too graphic or scary. Stephen Hill spoke to three groups totaling almost 2000 middle school students and you could hear a pin drop. Stephen made it a point not to preach but to develop an emotional tie that allowed students to draw conclusions about his story so they can make more informed personal choices in the future.”
– Christine Madigan, Assistant Principal, Felix Festa Middle School
I was genuinely taken aback by the emotional and passionate anecdotes told by Stephen. For once I was able to witness an entire auditorium of high school students sit quietly in respect and awe. It is almost needless to say that Stephen truly got his message across in the most profound and touching way possible. I am convinced that students will now think twice before taking another drink or obtaining another drug.
– Alyse Greenough, Student, Wood-Ridge Jr/Sr High School
“Stephen Hill spoke to our entire student body about the difficult path his life has taken due to addiction. He discussed how his personal life and his family have suffered greatly due to his choices and the disease of addiction. The students really connected to Stephen’s story and many remained after to speak personally with him. I feel that this presentation is very valuable to students of any age. Stephen’s youth makes him relatable and his difficult road to sobriety is inspiring.”
– Lori Franchi, School Social Worker, Eastport-South Manor Jr/Sr High School
Stephen Hill came to speak to our 10-12th graders as a part of our pre-prom assembly series. To say that his story made an impact is an understatement. Stephen did not come in and preach to our students. He came in and presented his story in such a way that our students were able to identify and connect with his story. Stephen talked openly and candidly with our students about his experiences and how his story unfolded and continues to effect his life today. You can tell that Stephen’s experiences made a huge impact on his life and where he is. I’m so happy that my students were able to hear his story and I hope they will be able to learn from the hard life lessons he had to face due to drugs and alcohol.
– Laura Paniagua, Student Assistance Counselor, Wood-Ridge Jr/Sr High School
“Stephen had a great down to earth approach in addressing students. He made it clear that he was not there to preach but only to share his story. This captured each student’s trust from the onset and allowed for a great exchange and discourse.”
– Frank Portanova, Vice Principal, Archbishop Stepinac High School
“Stephen’s presentation was powerful and moving. His strong ties to the Suffern Community made this our most influential presentation of the school year. Great job Stephen and thank you!”
– Andrew Trust, Assistant Principal, Suffern High School
“Thanks so much for sharing your story. Both students and faculty were very moved! I hope you will continue speaking to students, you have a lot to offer and many can relate very well to you.”
– Shari Pennington, LCSW, Islip Middle School
“Stephen’s presentation was very inspirational! His story is about addiction to recovery in real terms. He doesn’t preach to you, but lets you know his mistakes, how he learned from them, and how he struggled everyday with addiction.”
– Madison McCarney, Nanuet High School Student
“After hearing your story I thought differently about drugs. I never realized how easy it was to become addicted. I am going to stay away from alcohol and drugs completely”
– Student, Islip Middle School
“I had the distinct pleasure to host and hear Stephen Hill speak at our Greeks Empowering Maryland Program. Stephen eloquently relayed the story of his battle with addiction and his sobering process with such ease. He is a powerful, honest, and connected speaker and serves as a role model for college students. I would recommend Stephen to any college organization looking to educate its members on drug addiction and prevention.”
– Rebecca Scherwatzky, VP Programming, Alpha Epsilon Phi Sorority
“Stephen spoke at a Town Hall Meeting that was focused on the Heroin Epidemic. Stephen spoke to a crowd of 450 parents. He shared his personal experience with the struggle of addiction and the consequences that it had on his life and his family. His sharing made an impact. His honesty and detailed description made a difference. To have him share his personal experience as a former addict and now recovered was also good to see and gave everyone hope. Stephen is saving lives every time he speaks.”
– Carolyn Blake, President, Mahwah Municipal Alliance
“Stephen speaks from real world experiences and he captivated the students with the story of his life. The question and answer period after showed that they were listening and paying attention to his message.”
– D. Rebori, Student Activities, Garfield High School
“Stephen Hill has been a vital part of my recovery. I have had the privilege of hearing him speak on numerous occasions. His personal story really helps the audience to understand how cunning, baffling, and powerful the disease of addiction really is. His enthusiasm for living a clean and sober lifestyle makes others want to follow down that same path.”
– Bill D.
“I had the distinct pleasure to see and hear Stephen Hill speak. Stephen has surely been through all the horrors of drug addiction and treatment, yet so openly discusses his path for all to hear and learn. He is a gifted speaker and easily connects with an audience of adults, teens and local politicians and town officials. I would recommend Stephen to any organization looking to educate communities on drug addiction and prevention.”
– Janice Montague, MD
“Stephen spoke at our Town Hall meeting and his words were both eye-opening and genuine. He is an exceptional speaker and his message is on target to the problems of addiction. His fall to the depths of addiction and his rise back to sobriety was an impactful lesson for everyone in attendance. You could have heard a pin drop while he was speaking. If he reached one person in the audience, the night was a success.”
– James Batelli, Chief of Police, Mahwah
” If more people spoke out about their mistakes and addiction issues like Stephen did, there would be less addicts in the world.”
– Kevin, Student at Garfield High School