Chasing the Dragon

Cayuga County Coroner Dr. Adam Duckett speaks at an anti-drug panel after a screening of the film "Chasing the Dragon: The Life of an Opiate Addict" at Auburn Junior High School Friday.

AUBURN —  A needle broke off into Jessica Enge's arm last year. 

Enge, who has been in recovery from drug addiction for six months, said that situation helped motivate her to seek help. She said her previous stints in jail and in rehabilitation hadn't deterred her from drug use.

"There's three things that are guaranteed from using drugs —  jail, institutions and death — and apparently I'm stubborn, and I hadn't really hit my rock bottom and almost died in order to realize I didn't want to live that life," Enge said.

Enge was one of several people — from students to law enforcement to doctors and other recovering addicts — to speak at a panel after a screening of the anti-drug documentary "Chasing the Dragon: The Life of an Opiate Addict."

The film was screened at Auburn Junior High School Friday night. It followed several people who had struggled with drug addiction — from those who first used as teenagers to adults. The film emphasized that the subjects were addicted and affected their families while chasing their highs, dismantling their lives and relationships in the process. 

Stories the people told ranged from finding a person who died of an overdose in a drug den bathroom to putting toilet water in a needle to get high. The panel answered questions after the film.

William Morissey of the Auburn Police Department, an alumnus of the high school, said people he graduated with have been affected by drug addiction. He emphasized it is OK for people to dissociate themselves from those encouraging them to do drugs.

Joel Campagnola talked about the addiction that ravaged his son Nick, who died from a drug overdose at age 20. Campagnola, who runs the fundraiser Nick's Ride 4 Friends, which raises awareness and helps fund drug recovery, said it is important for those seeking help to have assistance from other people and that addiction shouldn't be stigmatized.

"Addiction is a disease. Try not to judge the afflicted by the curse, please."

He also asked that parents never give up on their children, and had a message for his "brothers and sisters that are addicted."

"Never give up on yourself, keep fighting. You do matter," Campagnola said.

Staff writer Kelly Rocheleau can be reached at (315) 282-2243 or kelly.rocheleau@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @KellyRocheleau.

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Education Reporter