Pubdate: Wed, 11 Nov 2015
Source: Montreal Gazette (CN QU)
Copyright: 2015 Postmedia Network Inc.
Author: John Meagher
Page: D4


Alvin Powell delivered his hard-line message on the perils of drug 
addiction Monday to students at John Abbott College in Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue.

But afterward the 6-foot-5 former football player also had some words 
of advice for parents who may not even know their child is abusing drugs.

"Parents are always the last to know," said Powell, who battled his 
own addiction to drugs and alcohol for years before finally getting 
clean and sober.

"God bless them, parents are working, trying to make their homes the 
best they can be. But they're not understanding what's really going 
on. And these kids, because of their computers, they have their 
Master's degree in deception. They'll look right in their parents' 
faces and lie to them. They set things up to fly under the radar undetected.

"That's the reality of the world today."

For the past 10 years, Powell has been visiting Montreal schools and 
other organizations to deliver his own sobering tale of how drug 
addiction alienated his own family and snuffed out his football 
career. Powell played in the National Football League with the 
Seattle Seahawks and Miami Dolphins.

As spokesperson for the Saving Station Foundation, a Montreal-based 
charity dedicated to substance abuse prevention, Powell said drug 
problems in many Montreal schools are getting worse.

"What's helping it along is that the kids today have the disease of 
entitlement," said 55-year-old Powell, who added that parents with a 
child at risk often fail to take the necessary steps to deal with 
drug addiction.

"It's a very vicious circle that's going on today and I feel very bad 
for the parents because it comes down to the fact they have a very 
soft approach in rearing their kids in terms of disciplining and 
setting consequences and boundaries and now they 're reaping the 
horrors of not being a bit firmer."

Powell said heroine use is a growing problem at high schools and colleges.

"Go down to the health department and they'll tell you. These kids 
are coming in and they're in hell. But they have the ability to 
deceive their parents ... so the (drug) progression has gotten to the 
point where the wheels are about to fall off and they don't know what to do."

Powell said kids are starting to use drugs as young as 11 years old, 
which is why he believes the best time to begin drug prevention 
education is in Grade 6, before they reach high school.

Matthew Smith, a 19-year-old student at John Abbott, has heard Powell 
speak before but came to hear him again Monday in the Agora lounge.

"Actually, when I was in high school, I went to Beaconsfield High, he 
came to our school and talked to us about his story and where he came 
from," said Smith, a linebacker with the John Abbott football team.

"At the time, I had just started playing football and I was kind of 
finding out who I wanted to be as a man when I grew up, and his story 
really motivated me to be who I am today."

Powell's harrowing personal tale of drug addiction gives him street 
cred with students, Smith said.

"I think because his story is so raw and he doesn't powder it with 
anything, I think he tells you straight up what it is. I think by him 
being honest with the students, being honest with everyone here, it 
really hits home, especially if the person is going through tough 
times, relative to what he went through."

As for stories of drug use on campus, Smith said: "If you're going to 
look, you're going to find it. But it really depends on who you're 
surrounding yourself with and the people you're going to be with."
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