Drug Overdose Death Touches Schools on Eve of Forum

As a public forum by a newly-created drug abuse and prevention task force convenes tonight at Haverhill’s Consentino Middle School, a message comes from Superintendent of Schools James F. Scully about a drug overdose fatality touching the Haverhill Public Schools community.

Scully informed school district staff Tuesday he was notified by former Special Education Director Maury Covino that his son, Nick Covino, succumbed to a heroin overdose.

“…when I received this (note) I was in disbelief, for I know how lovingly and courageously Maury and Mrs. Covino had worked with Nick, and I know through my conversations with Maury how much they loved their son,” Scully said.

According to Scully, Covino agreed to his request to share the note, in hope to “ help others deal with these tragedies which seem to be almost a daily occurrence in our communities.”

“Maury called Nick his hero, and that he was, for he tried and succeeded against great odds … and yet he stumbled. Let’s be there. Let’s all do what we can in honor of Nick….and to help those individuals and families fight this horrible demon that is terrorizing our youth and our communities,” Scully said. (Full text below.)

The first public meeting of Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini’s task force on opiate addiction, now known as the Haverhill Overdose Prevention and Education Task Force (HOPE), will begin at 6 p.m., tonight, at Consentino Middle School.

My son, Nick, passed away last night after a heroic struggle with heroin. Like many kids his age he and his friends raided medicine cabinets for recreational use. Unfortunately, at that time, many homes had oxycontin hanging around.  Because of the addictive capacity of this drug there was a major crackdown on even the legal use, and after being addicted, many young people  turned to heroin as a cheap substitute. Nick was my hero because after many years of substance abuse he found the strength to turn his life around; he was happy, successful, and feeling good about himself for the first time in years.

Nick never earned a college degree, his learning disabilities, combined with the drug use, made school a struggle.  With two parents in the field of special education, you would think we’d have realized our son had a learning disability, but we didn’t learn about it until Nick’s senior year in high school when he had a back X-ray that showed the lesion on his spinal cord that occurs with the mild form of spina bifida. This mild form of the disease often results in decreased fine and gross motor and ADHD like symptoms.

About four years ago, Nick battled with becoming sober, despite a couple of relapses he eventually had a couple of years of sobriety.  A turning point for Nick came last year when he began working as a day laborer for a developer who saw his potential. After three months Nick became site superintendent for a construction project in Magnolia. Nick applied himself working long days, weekends, and forgoing vacations.  After months of study he recently passed his test to become a licensed contractor and was looking forward to even further responsibilities in his company.  Physically he had gained over thirty pounds from living healthy, and regular workouts in the gym.  He had not only found work in Magnolia but loved it there, moving in and acquiring many good friends.

One problem with addiction is that the urge never goes away and it can often overtake recovering addicts when they’re in a great place mentally and physically. One reason I’m sending this out is I want people to know how well Nick had done and how valiantly  he fought to be sober. I thought it important for his memory to get this out because the news of his passing was on face book only a few hours after he was found and I wanted people to be aware of how well he’d done and how proud his mother, sister, and I are of him.

Our son had many wonderful qualities that the addiction often eclipsed.  I truly appreciated seeing him sober, successful, and proud of himself before he passed, showing his wonderful potential.  Its ironic but a recovering addict will often OD when they’re doing their best.  Again, I want people to know how proud we were of our wonderful son.

If you feel this email of value to anyone you know who may be struggling with addiction or their family, please feel free to share it.