Marie Postorino of Gloversville didn’t touch illegal drugs until she was 51. She quickly became addicted to crack cocaine.
Postorino, who used for three years and will celebrate being clean for five years in March, shared her story with scores of high school students at the Choices Youth Summit 2008 on Wednesday at Fulton-Montgomery Community College.
“I was never in trouble my entire life until I got involved with the wrong people,” she said.
“I talk about how alcohol and drugs affect their lives. I know that they all have dreams and goals, but if you start using drugs and alcohol, your dreams and goals, they’ll all be shattered,” Postorino said.
Postorino was one of 17 workshop leaders at the summit, which celebrated its 20th year on Wednesday.
Students — who came from schools in Hamilton, Fulton and Montgomery counties — picked four workshops to attend, and all listened to the keynote speakers Jim Maney and Michelle Hadden of the state Council for Problem Gambling.
Workshop topics ranged from Postorino’s “How Drugs Affected My Life” to juggling.
“It’s a series of serious events, and it’s a series of events of this is how to live life and have fun,” said Sue Arminio, program coordinator for Project Action of Hamilton, Fulton and Montgomery Counties. “What I like is there’s a variety of things.”
Ann B. Rhodes is the director of the Hamilton, Fulton, Montgomery Prevention Council, which sponsors the summit.
“Our goals are to help students find healthy lifestyles and to make choices as they mature that will help them to lead healthy lifestyles,” she said.
There’s no doubt the summits have helped, she said.
“We encounter people who are now adults who came to our conference when they were students and told how they affected their lives, so we get lots of positive feedback,” Rhodes said.
Broadalbin-Perth High School sophomores Bryanna Marotta and Kayla Hughes provided some positive feedback on the spot.
Marotta, who aspires to be a marine biologist and dolphin trainer at Sea World, attended a workshop detailing the college application process and learned she can get a head start on college either by early admission or by getting some core college courses out of the way while still in high school.
Marotta is looking at the University of Maine, Boston College and the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.
Hughes said she wants to be an equine veterinarian and plans to attend State University of New York at Cobleskill and Cornell University and she, too, plans to get a head start on college while still in high school.
Postorino said she will continue to talk to youngsters about making the right choices and recently formed a nonprofit organization, Lifeworks of Fulton County, with the goal of founding a drop-in center for teens in the area.
She said she found help with her addictions by attending Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and counseling.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s drugs, alcohol, gambling, any recovery. And I love working with teenagers,” she said.