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All-American Addict: A Journey to Recovery

This keynote presentation begins with a five minute introduction video aimed at knocking down the stigma attached to the disease of addiction and setting the stage for a powerful, honest and heartfelt story. The video shows clips of Stephen growing up as a child, doing what he loved to do most—playing sports. Stephen’s mother narrates, emphasizing what a great childhood and family life Stephen and his three brothers had growing up. “No one saw this coming.” After brief interviews with Stephen’s father and three brothers talking about the harmful effects Stephen’s addiction had on his family, Stephen will make his entrance, grab the mic, and hit the stage.

Stephen shows students through his life experience how addiction can unfold, the consequences of substance use, and how difficult it is to recover. This story telling technique allows each individual person to draw conclusions in their own meaningful way as it relates to their own life.

Stephen focuses on the progression of his drug addiction—beginning to end—leaving students with a better understanding of how the decisions they make today will affect them for the rest of their lives. The trifecta gateway drugs of nicotine, marijuana, and alcohol introduced to Stephen in 8th grade by older peers was just the beginning, eventually leading to self-destructive behaviors, criminal convictions, and a deathly opioid addiction.

He will take students through his dark days in addiction and slowly transition into sobriety, stressing the long, difficult, and everyday battle of living a life in recovery. Stephen ends his presentation with hope and motivation to chase your dreams, be kind and understanding of others, and to live a happy and healthy lifestyle.

Break The Silence: Lets Talk About It

For those who have heard Stephen speak, and especially those who have also read his book know that he shares many experiences which are extremely difficult to talk about. Stephen prides himself on keeping his presentation real and authentic by being completely open and honest about the topics and issues surrounding drug and alcohol use.

Break The Silence: Lets Talk About It is a follow-up program to Stephen’s assembly presentation that gives students the opportunity to ask more personal questions about Stephen’s story and share their own experiences and struggles in a small, safe classroom setting. Students can ask questions about any of the topics discussed throughout Stephen’s assembly presentation, or any general questions related to substance abuse, vaping, mental health, wellness, decision making, criminal justice, peer pressure, etc.

This follow-up program also gives schools the opportunity to have Stephen meet with all of the captains of sports teams. He will talk about the role of a captain on and off the field, stressing the importance of the student-athlete. He will emphasize how much of an impact, both positive and negative, captains can have on the culture of a team. Stephen will ask the participants to describe in their own words what they believe their role is. He will encourage the athletes to reflect on their current attitude and actions, and to ask themselves if they are fulfilling their role as captain. Stephen and the captains will also discuss what actions can be taken to improve leadership roles.

Not My Kid: Parent Program

How does 1 of 4 brothers, all raised in the same home by loving and supportive parents, end up addicted to drugs and committing crimes for over a decade while the other 3 brothers take the positive path to business school and law school without any substance use issues whatsoever? Stephen answers this question by showing parents, through his story, how his personality traits and way of thinking was—and still is—very different from his 3 brothers.

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 through working in the field of addiction and recovery, Stephen pinpoints potential threats and warning signs for parents to look out for.

Parents never think it’s going to happen to their kid. But when it does, most have no idea where to turn or how to handle it. Stephen’s parents, like many parents who have a child suffering from a substance use disorder, dealt with the emotional and financial hardship as a result of their child’s addiction. Members of their community, friends, and even family labeled Stephen with stigmas that made it increasingly difficult to recover and for his parents to confide in others and seek help for their son’s drug addiction.

By sharing both his and his parent’s experiences openly and honestly, Stephen hopes families can avoid some of the costly hardships that were a part of his journey. He stresses the importance of parents keeping an open line of communication with their children and how fear of punishment and consequences prevents teens from being open with their parents. Stephen’s presentation will leave parents with a better understanding of substance use in terms of prevention, treatment and support.

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