Health & Wellness

Co-Occurring Disorders Focus of Somers Community Forum

7f9cb6500f9f8edfb575_9babc84e7e2de0c553b7_FullSizeR.jpg
Stephanie Marquesano speaks at the forum. Credits: Numan Maloney
7f9cb6500f9f8edfb575_9babc84e7e2de0c553b7_FullSizeR.jpg

SOMERS, N.Y. – The Somers Partners in Prevention hosted a community forum on Tuesday, April 25, at the Somers Middle School Library featuring guest speaker Stephanie Marquesano of the Harris Project. Marquesano, whose son died from drug use at 19 years old, offered a unique perspective on the horrors of drug dependency and abuse to an audience of many interested members of the community, including police officers, school administrators, teachers and parents.

Marquesano stressed the importance of co-occurring disorders (or CODs) as a major player in drug abuse. According to Marquesano’s organization, “COD is the combination of one or more mental health challenges and substance abuse. With approximately 9.2 million Americans meeting the criteria, the diagnosis of COD is one we all need to understand.” Her focus is to improve the rehabilitation system in the United States to better address these disorders, which, she said, are not commonly assessed but still have a substantial impact on a struggling individual.

Marquesano identified the core problem as being the lack of integrated and comprehensive services to address mental health issues along with substance abuse, rather than two separate entities, which they are often considered. She argued that if time and energy were to be put into treating the presence of both in the same patient, this more wholesome healing process would help much more than the current one.

Sign Up for E-News

Accompanying Marquesano’s presentation were personal stories of her experience as the mother of the late Harris Marquesano, who, she said, was known as an exceptionally kind and intelligent student-athlete who was loved by his friends, family and acquaintances. She used Harris, who used self-medication to subdue his feelings, as an example of a promising young person whose combination of drug use and mental health issues produced a difficult situation for himself and his family. The Harris Project aims to use the devastation of his passing as a talking point to help combat a lack of awareness of CODs among parents and the community.

Following the presentation and story were questions fielded by both Marquesano and Katherine Cucchiarella, Partners in Prevention chairperson.

Present at the forum were members of the Youth to Youth Club from Somers High School. The club focuses on awareness and health education from a young adult perspective, and participates in other events alongside the Partners in Prevention community forum. Inspired by Harris’ message, many different high school- and college-age clubs and groups have formed (similar to Somers’ Youth to Youth Club) to help spread the message of substance abuse and treatment for mental health issues. Marquesano presents at schools, and has successfully sparked activity in Ardsley High School, Somers High School, and others.

The Partners in Prevention group is dedicated to promoting awareness of drug abuse and using education to create a safer community. Working with many other local organizations, it is present in many different areas of Somers life. The group meets monthly at 7 p.m. on the fourth Tuesday in the Somers Town House meeting room. Additional information on Marquesano’s story is available at theharrisproject.org.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Somers

Birthdays are Awesome Gifts

I celebrated my birthday last week, surrounded by the love of family: What a joyful occasion. I’ve thought about past celebrations and how tremendous it was to be remembered and loved. One such birthday was a real hoot.

As you know, my mother’s birthday also was in May. Years ago, we were having family over to celebrate her day; because of busy calendars, the party was scheduled ...

A Royal Foil

Because of my deadline, I’m writing this before the fact, but I never received my invitation to the royal nuptials last Saturday. Not even ONE invitation. Nothing. I was camped out at the mailbox all week, and even had a tip for the mailman, and also one from Christmas, which must have gotten lost in the mail. 

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle didn’t announce the guest list, but ...

Layers

Once upon a time, before computers and texting and email and Facebook, we had telephones with dials. They spun around and connected us with the live voice of whomever we were calling. That’s what telephones were used for: talking to other people. They had an ear piece and a mouth piece and we made what was known as “conversation.”

Today we have layers. If we use phones ...

She had file envy

Who says paperwork is not sexy?! This week, I was so impressed (and even charmed) by the paperwork and systems of two different women. I was even a little envious. In the first case, my client Lois in Ardsley decided that it was time to get her paperwork in order. After six years of shifting paperwork, a dysfunctional home office, an international move and the purchase of a new home, she had HAD ...

BOCES… What’s in a Name?

Do you ever wonder what BOCES stands for? We associate the name with a center of learning that supplements the general curriculum of local high schools by teaching students specialized trades. Beyond that, does everyone in the non-BOCES population, those who have no direct connection to the programs, fully appreciate the priceless value it brings to our communities’ young adults and their ...

Dog Allergies, Part Deux

“I have some good news and I have some bad news,” I told my husband.

“Give me the good news first.”

“OK. The vet doesn’t think the dog’s ear infections are from a food allergy after all, so we don’t have to keep feeding him that hypo-allergenic food,” I said.

“Hallelujah,” shouted my husband. He was understandably ...