Pubdate: Mon, 12 Jul 2004
Source: Tribune Review (Pittsburgh, PA)
Copyright: 2004 Tribune-Review Publishing Co.
Author: Emily Beaver


Christine Campbell, 20, of Latrobe, smiled over her plate of macaroni
salad and hot sausage as she watched a man in a striped polo shirt
toss water balloons Sunday afternoon.

However, the slender young woman in shiny hoop earrings wasn't at a
picnic or a family reunion, and the man in the striped shirt wasn't
her father or uncle. He was Joseph Boggio, Jr., her probation officer.

Minutes earlier, Campbell had spoken publicly for the first time about
her past addiction to ecstasy, cocaine and heroin at the Family
Program on Drug Awareness at the Latrobe Elks Lodge.

"I got curious about drugs," she said during the panel discussion. "I
was a great liar. I hid my usage very well for a long time. And I hurt
my relationship with my parents."

Campbell told a crowd of about 70 people her story. It was part of the
program the Latrobe Elks said aims to help families "better understand
the dangers of illegal drug use tempting our teenagers and young adults."

The story she told about her life as a former drug user was a familiar
one. Campbell said she started using drugs at 14, after she fell in
with "the wrong crowd." Drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana led to
LSD, ecstasy, crack and heroin use, she said.

"I lost contact with everyone who didn't do drugs," Campbell said. "I
dropped out of high school."

The rest of the program included discussion about inhalant abuse,
random drug testing in schools and rehabilitation services. The
discussion panel consisted of a high school guidance counselor, a
police officer, the probation officer, a clinical supervisor at a
rehabilitation center, a hospital chaplain, the mother of a former
heroin addict and Campbell.

Jill McCurdy, whose daughter is a former heroin addict, was near tears
as she spoke about supporting her daughter as she struggled with addiction.

"As a parent, you have to love your children even if you don't like
what they're doing," McCurdy said. "It's called unconditional love."

The tone was lighter after the program, as hot dogs and fruit salad
were served at the Elks' picnic pavilion. Gary Soltys, the program's
moderator, joked into a megaphone and gave away prizes, including
T-shirts and children's bikes.

Soltys, who is a director of an in-home therapy program at Adelphoi
Village, said he wants to educate families and young people before
they have to turn to therapy. Soltys also said he wants people to
enjoy the program, the food and the prizes.

"We want to do it in a way that we can attract people with hope, not
with fear," he said. "Either that, or we gotta start building more
prisons and hiring more police officer, and who wants that?"
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