He was Deep Run High school’s class president, a soccer stand out, and upon graduation… a drug addict.
Stas Novitsky says his addiction developed shortly after graduation, which was a path that led to several arrests, and it almost led to his death. He says it started with alcohol, then marijuana, then cocaine and then heroin.
“My major turning point was getting out of jail two Januarys ago and overdosing the next day,” Novitsky says. An addiction that had developed over several years put him in a coma for four days.
Novitsky turned to the non profit, The McShin Foundation, for help. Two years later, he is now in charge of making sure no other young people follow a similar path. Now, he wants to tackle the drug epidemic inside the classroom. Novitsky says he would like to bring recovery clubs into the schools in the next year.
“We meet after school or have a period during the day–maybe during lunch where students, who are going through struggles with drugs and alcohol, or have any questions of what’s going on around them. They can come and talk to somebody who’s been there and made mistakes along the way and has recovered and can guide them in the right direction.”
Novitsky says there aren’t any clubs like this in the area.
The latest numbers are disturbing statewide. Last year marked the first time deaths from heroin and opioid-use outnumber highway fatalities.
728 people died from a drug overdose
700 people were killed in crashes
Studies say most people who overdosed were younger than 34 years old.
In the schools, according to the Virginia Department of Education, the number of drug related incidents for the last school year are:
286 for Chesterfield
177 for Henrico
137 for Richmond
147 for Hanover.
Novitsky is spending his time trying to convince school leaders that recovery clubs are necessary. Eventually, he says he would like to start a recovery school. There are several already across the country catering to teens who are recovering from addiction. Funding is provided by school districts, grants and donations.
“Graduate rate increases [and] truancy drops because they want to go to school. They want to be within this population that is performing well,” Kristen Harper with the Association of Recovery Schools says.
Stas say prime candidates for the recovery groups would be teens who have already been caught with drugs in the school. “Because all these kids… they have dreams. They have aspirations of what they want to be, and I guarantee you being dead or being a drug addict is not one of them.”