(Editors note: The names in this article, except for Judge Timothy Lawliss, have been changed to protect their privacy.)
CHAMPLAIN - According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, there are nearly 11 million underage drinkers in the U.S. The National Institute on Drug Abuse says nearly one-third of all 12th graders have used marijuana.
In hope of changing these statistics,Clinton County Family Court Judge Timothy Lawliss is traveling to schools in the county with two past drug and alcohol abusers.
"I preside over drug court and I asked members of the drug court team if they had any suggestions for somebody who would be on the younger side, who would be good speakers to come in and talk to middle school and high school kids," Lawliss explained.
He was told of "James," a man who is now 14 years sober, from both alcohol and marijuana. James also suggested his friend "Chloe," who is also several years sober.
On Dec. 3, Lawliss, Chloe and James visited Northeastern Clinton Central School to speak students in seventh through 12th grade.
"When I come and share with you guys about what happened to me when I was drinking and drugging, it really reinforces all the bad stuff and how it really affected my family and my friends and my life," said Chloe to the seventh- and eighth-graders. "I do this because it really is my hope and my goal that if there is one person in this room that can hear something that I say today that can help you in your future ... then I have been very successful here."
Chloe had her first drink of alcohol at the age of 13.
"As soon as I put that beer in my mouth and in my system, something changed in me," recalled Chloe. "I instantly felt like I had the ability to be funny ... I would try to be charming. I could talk to the boy that I liked. I could be the popular one."