Nikkie Duran’s Story: Turning Tragedy Into Hope
On Wednesday November 5, the New Mexico Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) held its annual National Philanthropy Day. Among its many honorees for 2014 was 19-year-old Nikkie Duran, a college sophomore and anti-drug activist.
Nikkie’s older brother, Michael, was at one time a star athlete who also excelled in academics as an all-star baseball player at Albuquerque’s New Sandia Preparatory School. After a sports injury sidelined him, the high school student was given a prescription for the powerful painkiller oxycodone.
As it does in many cases, Michael’s prescription drug use soon escalated to drug abuse. Without his parents’ knowledge, Michael refilled his prescription, and soon, his oxycodone abuse turned into opioid addiction. Shortly after, in his quest to fulfill his addiction, Michael moved on to heroin, a cheaper street alternative to hard-to-get prescription painkillers.
Despite seeking addiction treatment and even drafting an anti-drug speech he planned to deliver at a seminar hosted by Albuquerque’s Heroin Awareness Committee, Michael lost his battle to addiction. In February 2011, Michael died of a heroin overdose. He was just 19.
Finding Strength In Spreading Awareness
Starting just one month after Michael passed away, Nikkie began delivering speeches and presentations on the dangers of drugs to other students. She told her personal story in hopes that sharing her family’s heartbreak might prevent another. She continually remained open and candid about her message, and served as a mentor to other students throughout high school.
In 2013, the Albuquerque Public Schools Foundation named Nikkie a Selfless Senior, and this November, New Mexico’s AFP Chapter recognized her as an Outstanding Youth, an honor for which she was recognized at their annual National Philanthropy Day. In an excerpt on their website, AFP praised Nikkie’s accomplishments and commitment to being a positive influence to those around her, in spite of the heartache she and her family have faced in the wake of addiction. “Nikkie Duran is a fine example of a young philanthropist who also shows great leadership skills toward others. For someone who has experienced such life-changing events at a young age, Nikkie holds her head up high, makes good choices, and is a positive leader in the community. “
Addiction doesn’t always start as an urge to do drugs. It’s not a moral failing by which the brain and body decide to do “bad” things. Addiction is a disease that needs only a handful of circumstances and exposure to ignite. Once lit, it requires much more than will power to overcome. As Nikkie Duran’s message will surely tell you, addiction can turn deadly in a very short time frame.
If you are suffering from addiction, or are looking for help for loved one who is, The Watershed can help you start the conversation and find recovery. Call today: 1-800-861-1768.Tags: faces of heroin, heroin overdose