When Allison Marco was sitting in her orange jumpsuit on trial for the first time, she realized she was in the wrong position (it just took 13 more times to get clean).
This past Monday for Red Ribbon Week, a recovered drug addict came and spoke to the high school students about her experience and how she got over her addiction.
Marco is a Miami native. She went to a private school and owned no shortage of nice belongings such as boats and fancy cars. Growing up, she lived in a big house in Kendall with her parents and younger brother. Her parents are Roman Catholic Cuban-Italians, and religion played a key role in her life. Her mom is an attorney and her dad deals with homeowner insurance.
From an outsider’s perspective, it seemed as though she had a perfect life. However, from a young age she began to have personal issues. When she turned eight years old, Marco fell in love with basketball and playing this sport helped her get through a lot of inner pain. She played for her school, a recreational league, and a travel league. She began to dress in boys clothing constantly for basketball, which sparked many fights between her and her mom, since she wanted her daughter to dress “like a girl”.
Despite problems at home, she was popular at school. Marco admits much of her popularity came from the fact that she was very easy going, and rarely said no to people. When she turned fifteen, her mom was diagnosed with breast cancer and Marco started to use marijuana. At that time, it was more for pleasure and she only used it intermittently so it had no effect on her studies. She continued to go about regular life and maintained good grades throughout high school in order to get into a good college and leave home.
She attended Florida State University (FSU), not too far away from where she grew up, but it was the first time that she felt truly free from her parents and being told what to do.
Marco never failed in school but began getting into trouble and detaching from her family and friends. Her new problems began when she took a painkiller called Roxy, and after experiencing a painful withdrawal, decided that she would continue to take the drug to prevent future pain. This marked the beginning of Marco’s addiction. Ever since becoming physically dependant on the newly introduced painkiller, the money intended to be spent on food and transportation was used to purchase the drugs.
Marco eventually confessed to her mother about the excessive drug use, and was taken into rehabilitation treatment in 2010. She was put into an outpatient treatment facility, which forced her to take off one semester of college. Shortly after her treatment was completed, she relapsed. This time, the abusive drug use was easier to hide, and in her last semester of college, she got an internship with the public defender’s office and moved back to Miami. She was assigned to work with the felony drug court, who had no idea about her drug problem. This job was like a dream to her, she loved working there and felt like all her years of studying criminal justice in school had finally paid off. Unfortunately, this didn’t last long.
During her three years of being under the influence, Marco got hooked on heroin. Due to the shutdown of numerous local illegal drug manufacturers, it quickly became the cheaper option. February 14th, 2012 was Marco’s first arrest for the possession of heroine. Her case ended up in drug court. That day, Marco should have been working in drug court doing the accusing, but this time she was the one being accused.
Marco was fired from her job, became homeless, and started stealing from her loved ones. Initially, Marco’s parents were willing to welcome her into their home, but slowly they wanted nothing to do with their daughter. These small acts of stealing turned into larger ones, which inevitably led to numerous arrests. She was apprehended not only on drug charges, but for check frauds, petty theft, and even grand theft.
Marco was able to take advantage of her parent’s professional success and undergo rehabilitation at multiple luxurious treatment centers. However, at age 26, Marco’s parents stopped financially supporting her, and with that came the inability to attend the “resort like” treatment facilities, so she was forced to attend less than desirable state facilities. Places like these had bad tasting food and boring ongoing group and private therapy sessions.
After having the charges dropped yet again, Marco was detained and interrogated by two detectives about a previous arrest for check fraud from three months prior. Luckily for Marco, the judge of the drug court, her former colleague, was able to secure that she would be the one to review Marco’s case. The judge told Marco that this is going to be her last chance to reform herself because she would no longer be able to secure that Marco would be able to appear in drug court. If she continues to have trouble with the law, she could have faced extended jail time for future crimes (To this day, Marco remains in close contact with that judge, since she owes her spotless new record, and new life, to her). Marco resolved to finally overcome her addiction and attended court mandated treatment for three months. After the required time ended, Marco remained in treatment for an additional month. During her rehabilitation, Marco had undergone many group and private therapy sessions, sometimes with her parents allowing her to become closer with them. It took fourteen arrests, but Marco has been clean ever since.
Marco is currently working at a high end cocktail bar, awaiting her respectable three full years of being clean so that she can work at the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) with a drug-free, happy life.
Students responded well to hearing this story and believe that it will allow them to rethink the impact that drugs have on their lives.
“What I thought was the most significant thing that she said was how at the beginning she was in the mindset where she would see people who were alcoholics or drug addicts and she would say ‘that would never be me’ because that is something we can all relate to,” Rena Kahn (12th) said. “We look at these stories and feel so displaced and that it doesn’t apply to us, but it does we just don’t know it until it’s too late. So I think this was a perfect story and perfect speaker to bring awareness to the high school.”
By: Samantha Ebner (10th Grade)