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From Family Addiction and Overdose to D.A.R.E. Officer

Posted on October 1, 2016 by in News

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Katie Prawitt’s Inspiring Personal Story

I remember standing in front of Ms. Kinsey’s 5th grade class and reciting the D.A.R.E. essay. At home, it felt easy to speak of addiction. In front of my class, I felt vulnerable explaining to my friends that what we were learning about in DARE is what I was experiencing every day. I couldn’t finish reading my essay through the tears. The D.A.R.E. Program was the most memorable experience from my childhood, and the one that has helped shape the way I make decisions – especially my decision to stay drug-free and my path to become a police officer and D.A.R.E. instructor.

Growing up, I was surrounded by addiction. My dad, especially, struggled with an alcohol addiction. After pacing the floors of our tidy home on August 19, 2001 at 11:04PM, my mom received a phone call from the life flight helicopter pilot explaining that my father was in a drunken driving accident. His odds weren’t good.

The officers were so sure he wouldn’t make it that they didn’t issue him a DUI citation. My mom raced to the hospital where he was flown and prayed for a miracle. He survived, but it wasn’t the last time addiction would affect his life. My parents divorced shortly after the accident and my dad continued down a path of destruction to his life and relationships. Addiction had taken over.

After dealing with the pain of my father’s addiction and parent’s divorce, another family tragedy struck. On January 6, 2005, my cousin, Marshall, overdosed on cocaine and Xanax. While he had completed several rehabilitation programs and stayed clean for months, it simply wasn’t enough to enable him to cope with his addiction.

Soon after his death, I started D.A.R.E. at Welby Elementary with Officer Skogg. This is when it all started making sense in my young mind, the negativity and havoc addiction brings to your life can be avoided. It started to make sense that I had a choice as to whether or not I would let addiction control my life like it had some of my family members.

My older brother also became a victim to addiction to drugs and alcohol. I again witnessed how evil and controlling addiction can be in someone’s life. I witnessed someone I love turn into someone I barely knew. I saw my 6’4’’ adult brother, the one who played with me and teased me endlessly, cry, scream, and cling to his mom begging for another way, a way out of the nightmare he was living. I used to walk into my brother’s room praying he was alive, and would get another chance to say “no” to his addiction.

My graduation from the D.A.R.E. program marks the first time I pledged to stay free of addiction to drugs and alcohol and became a pivotal moment in my life.

Both my father and my brother were able to overcome the pressures of addiction, but not everybody does. Every single day, they have to wake up and decide whether they will say “no” that day. I learned from the experience of my family members that addiction can damage every aspect of your life.

I made my first pledge in 2005 that I would resist addiction to drugs and alcohol. I am proud that I have kept my pledge. Because of my choices, I have been able to accomplish a lot in my short life. I was head cheerleader in high school and was on the honor roll every quarter. I attended college on a full-ride leadership scholarship and graduated spring 2016 with my Bachelor of Science Degree in Public Health.

Throughout my education, I had the opportunity to work for the South Jordan Police Department. I have a passion for impacting the community in positive ways. I am the D.A.R.E. officer because I believe in this program, and I believe that my D.A.R.E. officer helped pave a path for me to be successful. D.A.R.E. is not only a program that teaches young children to resist drugs and alcohol, it is a program that promotes healthy decision making and creates positive support networks.

I will always remember my D.A.R.E. experience, and I will strive to pay-it-forward and offer this experience to all of the children and community members I can reach.

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