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“Alex’s Story”: A True Account From Within the Opioid Crisis

By Lindsey DeRoche; For The Clock
On March 17, 2017

TIGER actor and UNH student Teghan Kelly (L), with Alex
Berry (R), a NH youth in recovery from heroin addiction.

The United States has, in the last few years, been experiencing one of the worst opiate epidemics in history. Last Thursday night, “Alex’s Story,” a true account of a New Hampshire teen’s struggle with heroin addiction and recovery, took place in Hyde Hall.

The project is a collaborative project between CADY (Communities for Alcohol and Drug-free Youth) and TIGER (Theatre Integrating Guidance Education & Responsibility). It was booked by Scott Merrill, a PSU philosophy professor, campus minister, and the program coordinator of the Caring Campus Coalition.

Merrill said that he heard about the show through Deb Naro, the director of CADY. “I'd never seen [“Alex’s Story”] before, but I wanted to do something in my role as campus minister to address the problem of opioid use. I thought this might be a good way to start a conversation at PSU,” said Merrill. The event was open to the public, and Gov. Sununu sent an opioid task force member to take notes in the audience. 

The true story of Alex Berry, a 21-year-old New Hampshire native, was told by UNH student and professional actress Teghan Kelly in the first person. The real Alex Berry took the stage after his account had been orated, and took part in a question-and-answer segment. During the question-and-answer segment, Berry said that Kelly’s performance of his story was meant to show that addiction is gender neutral.

Berry and Kelly have been to many high schools and colleges across the state with the hope that the story will help prevent substance abuse, as well as aid those who are currently struggling with it. Berry’s story was a compelling one; he was on ordinary teen from southern New Hampshire when his drug use began.

Barry had had a happy childhood, which included a supportive family. He as a part of sports teams and Boy Scouts. It was during middle school when Berry was first introduced to marijuana, and it was a downward spiral from there.

His marijuana use started as a recreational hobby, but quickly escalated to a daily habit. By the time he was in the eighth grade, Berry began dabbling with other drugs and alcohol.

“Whatever I could do to get messed up, I would do,” said Berry. During his first year of high school, Berry first discovered opiates via Percocets. Percocets quickly became his drug of choice. His addiction caused him to steal from his family and friends, and abandon his morals.

While still in high school, the same friend who had introduced Berry to marijuana and Percocets introduced to him heroin. Heroin was cheaper than Percocets, and made Berry feel even better while high. “It made me feel invincible,” he said. During his struggle with addiction, Berry was injecting heroin every day.

At one point, he even pawned his father’s wedding ring for drug money. But, on Jan. 7, 2014, Berry realized that he could no longer continue down the road he was on. That day was the last day that he used heroin, and he said that his own life was frightening him.

On his 18h birthday, Berry was admitted to a rehab facility in Massachusetts. He has been clean since January 2014.

Life is still a struggle for Berry. “It’s a battle every day, sometimes every minute,” he said. He credits his parents and siblings, his children, and programs like Narcotics Anonymous for aiding him through his continuous recovery.

Now, Berry wants to not only help himself, but to help others. “What I’ve been through, I don’t want others to go through,” he said.

If you or someone you know has an issue with substance abuse, do not hesitate to contact CADY (Communities for Alcohol and Drug-free Youth) on Highland Street in Plymouth, the Plymouth House, or any local recovery center in the area.

COURTESY PHOTO / CADY

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