St. Xavier High School recently held a drug and alcohol program for incoming freshmen and their parents. David Tarullo, program manager for St. Vincent de Paul’s Ozanam Men’s Homeless Shelter and Recovery Programs and a professional in the field of alcohol and drug counseling, was asked to host the educational portion of the program.
The invitation was particularly meaningful for Tarullo, who is a former St. X student. “I was a freshman in 1999-2000 and was asked not to return sophomore year as a result of drug-related behaviors and influence,” Tarullo says.
Tarullo ultimately received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Louisville’s Kent School of Social Work.
St. X’s initiative to educate parents was started by alumni and concerned professionals in the community of St. X a few years ago to teach parents about the risk factors that lead to substance abuse problems in high school students and how to handle such situations, Tarullo said.
Tarullo talked about the reality of extremely high rates of first-time drug/alcohol use for adolescents ages 12 to 17, as well as the high incidence of emergency hospital visits and addiction rates for that same age group.
Other topics included: Risk factors for young men to develop addiction; signs and symptoms of adolescent drug use; family influences and risk factors; parental methods of protection; methods for addressing the realities of substance abuse during adolescence; and treatment options.
Trinity Talk Gets More Personal
On Nov. 10, Tarullo again repeated his talk as a guest speaker at Trinity High School’s Student Alcohol and Drug Elective class. However, there he shared personal stories of his severe substance abuse problems while a student at Trinity from 2000 to 2003.
Tarullo gave them real-life scenarios, too: “I shared the realities of [my] multiple incarcerations and countless legal problems during those years, he says, adding that “I told them about the three times I overdosed from alcohol and other drug abuse, getting my stomach pumped…”
He also told the students about friends he has lost to drug-related incidents: two were shot to death in a drug deal, and one died in an alcohol-related car crash.
And he talked about the impact drug abuse had on his academic efforts, and how Trinity teachers and counselors worked hard to help him successfully graduate high school. Fortunately, Tarullo’s story has an inspiring twist.
After finding a long-term substance abuse program that changed his life, he went to college and earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social work, with specialization in drug and alcohol counseling.
“Finally, I shared with them how I started living my life from a mission of helping others with lifelong addiction problems at SVDP men’s shelter and the development of our emergency recovery (ER) program,” Tarullo said.
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