New Rochelle woman teaches students about substance abuse

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NEW ROCHELLE -

A New Rochelle woman who lost her son to an overdose is working to teach local students about the warning signs of substance abuse and addiction.

Stephanie Marquesano's son, Harris, suffered from a co-occurring disorder that started off as anxiety in his childhood. He later turned to self-medicating -- starting with marijuana and eventually to prescription pills. He went to inpatient programs four times and outpatient programs two times; with the programs unable to deal with his mental health issues and substance abuse. Harris died of overdosing on prescription pills.

Following her son's death, Marquesano founded the Harris Project to educate people about the dangerous link between mental health disorder and addiction. She's also the driving force behind Co-Occurring Disorders Awareness, a peer prevention program that will kick off a week of awareness and education with students at New Rochelle High School.

"She's someone who's been through something, we're people who never want to go through that, so it's the perfect pair to start the club and make sure it's successful and keep going," says Claudia Marcelin, president of CODA.

To kick off CODA, students are enjoying mocktails to give them energy and to celebrate ahead of a busy week.

"You have a child that dies and don't you know what you're going to do next, and for me it was very clear that our young people are a big part of the answer," says Marquesano.

Click here for more information on overdose prevention.

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