Former Addict Dedicates Himself to Paying Help Forward With Foundation for a Drug-Free World

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Helping kids make informed decisions to live drug-free

No stranger to drug abuse and its toll, Alfredo Riaño, who heads the chapter of Foundation for a Drug-Free World in Valencia, Spain, shares his own story to help kids avoid the ordeal of addiction that he eventually escaped from. And he trains educators, law enforcement and other community partners who share his passion to reach youth with the truth about drugs before they fall prey to the dwindling spiral of drug abuse and addiction.

At first, life was a party, or so it seemed. When Riaño finished his military service, he found himself the perfect job, working as a PR for an alcohol company that sold to bars and clubs. Nights were a procession of discos and parties.

Then he discovered cocaine. Drugs were easy to come by in the circles he traveled. Night after night he’d get home around 4 a.m. after an entire gram of cocaine and a liter of gin. But the high he felt when he first tried the drug evaded him as he attempted to recreate the sensation by ingesting ever-increasing amounts. “The more I consumed, the worse I felt,” he says. “I felt neurotic, unhappy, depressed.”

Then he tried supplementing the cocaine with methamphetamine. “I was a human waste,” he says. The final straw came with LSD. “It completely destroyed my life.”

Riaño’s luck only turned when a friend invited him to visit the Church of Scientology and introduced him to technology developed by Scientology Founder L. Ron Hubbard to free people from drugs. The friend also helped Riaño take stock of his life and his goals and set a new, ethical course for the future.

Drug-free and sober since then, Riaño has been paying forward the help he received by reaching out with Foundation for a Drug-Free World Valencia
and its Truth About Drugs
initiative, the drug education and prevention campaign supported by Scientology Churches and Scientologists. In addition to bringing the campaign to the classroom, Riaño trains educators, law enforcement and community groups so they too can reach youth with this vital information.

A natural showman, Riaño makes his drug prevention presentations fun. The youth-friendly booklets and videos of the Foundation’s Truth About Drugs initiative make it easy to involve young people in the lessons. He invites their participation by having them create skits. His classes not only create a lasting impression, they also give young people the opportunity to examine their attitudes about drugs and alcohol at a critical time in their lives.

Studies show that the earlier youth begin abusing drugs, the greater the risk of lifelong dependency. Adolescent drug use is also tied to academic difficulties, health-related problems, poor peer relationships, and crime. 

After his lessons, he has the classes fill out anonymous surveys, in which quite a few admit that they smoke marijuana, but now say they have decided never to smoke it again. More than 80 percent say they never understood what drugs really were before, but now they do. They often comment that what they thought about drugs before was based on false information. And they feel more confident now about explaining the truth about drugs to friends and siblings.

“Many of them come to tell me that I have changed their lives,” says Riaño.

One teacher told Riaño that after his presentation, parents started calling, saying their children arrived home excited and told them all about what they had learned.

“A principal told me he had never seen anything like this. The entire class of 60 students spent an hour and a half totally attentive,” he says. A 16-year-old girl told him she was going home to have a very serious talk with her mother. She decided to help her stop drinking because she realized that it was destroying her life. One boy came up to
at the end of the class and said “I am at a point in my life where I was hesitating about whether to continue with sports or start going out drinking at night. Thanks to this class I have absolutely no doubt. I will continue with sports.”

Riaño appoints students as Drug-Free Valencia ambassadors and encourages them to share the Truth About Drugs materials with others.

He has recently extended his Drug-Free World presentations to the military and is training a corps of volunteers to expand its impact.

For more information, visit the Foundation for a Drug-Free World website, watch the Truth About Drugs documentary and Truth About Drugs public service announcements on the Scientology Network, or visit the nearest Scientology Church to learn more about the campaign and join or create a Drug-Free World chapter in your community.

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