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Model talks to students about horrors of addiction

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    Alexis Johnson shares her story with students at Weatherly Area High School. Scan this photo with the Prindeo app for video of Alexis talking about the speech. CHRIS REBER/TIMES NEWS

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Published May 25. 2018 10:32PM

Alexis Johnson has everything going for her in life. She has a good job in the auto industry, works as a model, and publishes poetry.

You would never guess that the 35-year-old struggled with addiction throughout her 20s, overdosing multiple times and losing 16 friends to the illness.

“I was doing everything to kill myself without actually killing myself,” she recalled on Thursday at Weatherly Area High School.

Johnson spoke to students about the horrors that she faced — multiple trips to jail, including a stint in state prison. Overdoses that could have killed her, including one in the back of a police car that was taking her away after she had just been revived from another overdose.

Despite limited experience speaking to high school classes, Johnson clearly connected with the students. They sat engaged as she delved into the low moments of her addiction.

“Getting into high schools is very hard. This, to have such a response... I’m stunned,” she said.

Weatherly Area High School health teacher Becky McFadden heard Johnson share her story and knew that it would resonate with the students.

A large group of students stayed afterward to thank Johnson, share a story, or just give her a hug.

Cheyenne Weston said she was inspired by Johnson’s desire to overcome her addiction to drugs.

“My biggest takeaway, it may not have been what she was going for, was that you can only get better by helping yourself.”

Junior Madison Dugon stayed after to speak with Johnson. She admitted she’s had to witness people battling with addiction. But she said the assembly was a good warning for those who may not know the effects of drug use.

“It makes them know it’s not an OK thing, how it will be better if you just stay sober and not do that stuff,” she said.

Huntyr Kephart said Johnson’s story just goes to show that no matter how much someone seems to be in control, they could be battling something in secret.

“I think every school should have this. It really puts this into perspective,” she said.

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