HHS Assembly on Opiod Addiction

Benjamin Coulombe
Breaking Down the Walls on the Social Stigma
Photos by Steve Bassignani
Issue Date: 
March, 2018
Article Body: 

Cory Palazzi was seemingly the perfect high school student. A member of the National Honor Society, a tri-sport athlete who as a junior was already being scouted by MLB teams like the Seattle Mariners. A brighter future than the one Cory had in front of him seemed impossible. Unfortunately, a botched shoulder surgery would not only end Corey’s chances of a career in professional sports but also opened the door to opiod addiction.
Prescribed opiate painkillers at only 16 years old, Cory turned to the drugs as an escape from the loneliness and depression he felt while his friends were at sports practice that seemed robbed from him. Painkillers led to a desire for a more intense high and eventually, Cory found himself using heroin on a regular basis. Cory himself described his heroin use at one point as “not to get high, but to get by” as the drug had fully consumed his life.
It was on July 15th, 2013 that Cory suffered a heroin overdose that would place him in a coma and cause permanent brain damage. To this day, Cory struggles with basic motor functions and requires a wheelchair to move around effectively but he never gave up. In his speech to the students of Hopedale High School, Cory spoke about how the reason that he wakes up everyday is to visit schools, spreading his story and the dangers of heroin use. Cory was accompanied by his parents, Dave and Lori, who also attended the assembly. After a brief video presentation summarizing Cory’s story, the three took to the stage to answer student questions and share words of wisdom and hope for any whose lives have been affected by drug use.
Cory’s miraculous survival and words of inspiration cut deep within the student body, spurring up conversations on the topic even days and weeks after the presentation. “If we can affect even one life in here, then it was all worth it,” said Lori. With many Hopedale High School students making consistent honor roll while also playing multiple sports just like Cory did, it makes the impact of his story that much greater.
The Hopedale community thanks Cory and his family for their bravery in sharing their story and helping break down the walls of social stigma around the conversation of drug abuse.