Saturday, June 15, 2024

PSUC student shares his story from abuse to sobriety

He didn’t laugh. He didn’t cry. Even his favorite songs couldn’t evoke any kind of emotional response.

Plattsburgh State student Kevin Quigley described his life between sophomore and junior year as like being in a rap video: endless money and endless drugs.

“I lost over 40 pounds,” Quigley said. “I was numb to practically everything. I never cried once.”

He said that before he got to college, he had not been deep into drugs. However, starting sophomore year, his life began a downward spiral.

Quigley said he had a normal childhood.

He was born in New York and grew up in Kansas City, Kan., for most of his life. At the beginning of his senior year, he moved to Albany and finished out his high school career at Niskayuna High School.

After graduation, he entered PSUC in 2010 . Although he entered college with an undeclared major, he eventually settled on public relations.

Quigley described himself as a sort of outcast, hence why he experimented with drugs like marijuana, LSD and mushrooms. He said they made him feel more popular.

It was through drugs that he met many of his friends his first year at college, and it was through those friends that he was introduced to painkillers.

Over the next summer, Quigley had an internship in Manhattan that paid $20 per hour and provided him with an apartment free of rent. That meant a lot of extra cash in his pockets.

With the extra money in his pockets, he bought more painkillers and had his first experience with heroin. Though he said he tried it only a few times, it would not be the last time he saw it.

Around Thanksgiving , his family had moved to Glen Rock, N.J., which, Quigley said, is right outside of the heroin capital of Patterson, N.J.

He found that, there, he could buy around 10 bags of heroin for the price of one pain killer, and he discovered that he could buy inexpensive heroin in New Jersey and sell it in Plattsburgh for substantially more.

“My life just spiraled out of control very fast,” Quigley said.

He said he stopped caring about school and would skip any class just to go down to New Jersey to get more heroin. He said he was not the same person he had been before.

Assistant Professor of public relations Colleen Lemza said Quigley has taken four or five of her classes throughout his time at PSUC, and she noticed something was different at the end of last semester.

“It just wasn’t the same old Kevin,” Lemza said.

She said she did not immediately suspect he was using drugs. Instead, she assumed his change in behavior and appearance was due to his being ill, which she said he confirmed when he said he had a stomach sickness.

Lemza, who has a background in counseling, said she did not realize what was really going on until Quigley’s arrest in May.

“I was kicking myself,” she said. “I should have seen it.”

The night he was arrested, Quigley said he was supposed to be meeting up with Lemza to go over a presentation he was supposed to give for a class. When he got home, he went down the street to trade some heroin for cocaine when he was approached and arrested by two plain clothes officers from the Adirondack Drug Task Force.

Quigley was arrested May 7. His birthday was May 8.

“I woke up in jail on my 22nd birthday, dope sick,” he said. “I didn’t know what the f— was going to happen to me.”

Quigley saw the judge, and his bail was set at $10,000 cash. He bailed out and went back home.

When he got home, he started using again. However, he convinced his parents he did not have a drug problem and that he was the middleman in the drug transactions. After a while, he said he could not take the lifestyle anymore.

He said his parents eventually found out that was still using, and they told him he could not be in the house anymore. He couldn’t expose his two younger sisters to that.

“S— just hit the fan,” Quigley said. “I wasn’t a person anymore.”

He decided to check himself into detox for seven days and then into rehabilitation. He said he knew he had to get clean with his court date approaching.

Lemza said Quigley took all the right steps after his arrest. He went into detox and checked himself into rehabilitation, which is something she said is a difficult thing to do.

“I admire him for going through detox,” she said. “It’s hard.”

Lemza kept in contact with Quigley, his father and his attorney throughout the summer in an attempt to get ready for his return to the college.
She got him enrolled in classes and worked out his move into substance-free housing in Adirondack Hall.

Quigley said he loves being in Adirondack. He has since made new friends, and he said he was surprised when he realized how much fun one can have while being sober.

Quigley has been clean for almost 100 days today. For anyone who is struggling with a life of drugs, he recommends reaching out to someone or attending Narcotics Anonymous or Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.

“You don’t need to be ashamed,” he said. “It’s the most welcoming group of people I’ve ever met.”

Email Stanley Blow III at

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