From streets to speaking

Drug recover Tony Hoffman shows students the danger of drug abuse.

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From streets to speaking

Tiffany Curro, Staff Writer

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Drug recoverer Tony Hoffman talked to students at Biddeford High School about his life to spread awareness.

Growing up Hoffman kept his head in the game when it came to BMX motorized bike racing.  He would train long hard hours, learning new tricks and keeping up with his competitors.  However he tells the students how those admirable habits turned into things of the past when something new took its place.

“I was never the kid to go out and party,” said Hoffman. “I was never the kid to go out and drink.  I was never the kid to go get high with his friends.  I wasn’t that type of kid.  But here I was and I thought to myself, ‘Just this one time.’  And that one time turned into once a month, then only on the weekends, then only sometimes, and then it turned into an everyday thing.  I was smoking weed every single day.”

When Hoffman was 18 years old his parents kicked him out of their home after finding out about his addiction to oxycontin and heroin.  His addiction affected his relationship with his family.

“A story I didn’t mention during the presentation is the time I saw my brother, the night I went to go sleep at my old high school,”  said Hoffman.   “All we did was say hey to each other, and that was it.  He didn’t carry on the conversation with me because he was hurt.  He saw what my addiction did to our family.”

Hoffman also saw what his addiction did to others.  One night he found himself in prison after being found guilty for breaking and entering and armed robbery. At this point, he knew he hit rock bottom.  Looking up at the ceiling from his bunk, he found something that changed his entire life.

“It was a quote,” said Hoffman.

Be careful what you think because your thoughts become your words. Be careful what you say, because your words become your actions. Be careful what you do, because your actions become habits. Be careful what you make habits because your habits become your character. And because your character becomes your destiny.”

— Tony Hoffman

img_4345This made Hoffman changed his entire life around.  Now, nine years later he has found himself in yet another position.  He shares his new niche with attentive students.

“I help coach BMX in the Olympics,” said Hoffman.  “This was actually my first time going to the olympics ever, and I hope to go back for the next ones.”

Having him travel all the way to Biddeford High School was a task since he lives across the country.  Luckily  the Biddeford Saco Rotary Club Red Ribbon Committee put in a lot of effort to make this possible explained principal Jeremie Sirois.

“Their mission is to end substance use and abuse in our community and they were passionate about helping the schools,” said Sirois.  “They will also be helping us as we move forward with other events.”

However Sirois agrees that all the hassle was well worth it.

“I watched him and our students a lot during his assembly and you could hear a pin drop,” said Sirois.  “He had our students.  He didn’t preach.  He talked directly to them.  He was an excellent speaker and over the course of the day I got to know him.  He is a fascinating guy who cares deeply about kids.”

Sharing his story helped students realize the danger of drugs.  His delivery really stuck out to junior Eliza Gilliam.

“It wasn’t like he was just telling us not to do drugs,” said Gilliam. “He was explaining why we shouldn’t do drugs and the effect of them.  I think him coming in was worth whatever it took to get him here because kids need to know this stuff now … not later.”

Junior Paige Lessard also thought that his story was helpful even if you aren’t caught up in drugs.

“Hearing about how he overcame his struggles including jail and drugs really motivated me to be the best person I can be,” said Lessard. “If he can come out of all that with a purpose in life and a goal, then just imagine what someone who is free of drugs can do.”

Sometimes it takes an all time low before people are able to reach their peak.  After many years of low, Hoffman was able turn his bad position into motivation to change.


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