A tenacious crusader in today’s drug crisis, Allie Severino is no stranger to addiction–or to the stigma that comes with being an addict. Allie has devoted her life’s work to breaking down the stigma associated with substance use disorders and increasing access to care for all who experience them. Allie speaks regularly with schools, drug court officials, judges,teachers, parents and those like herself who are dealing with addictions.
This devotion to creating a healthier community for all didn’t start yesterday, Allie has been advocating and creating real change for those who struggle with substance misuse and their loved ones for over a decade.
Allie Severino was born in Englewood, NJ. As a child Allie moved frequently between New York, New Jersey and Florida becoming a student at over 20 different schools. This affected her in many ways before she ever picked up a drink or a drug. Allie became a part of the foster care system at 12 and eventually relocated for good with her father to South Florida where she attended school at West Boca Raton Community High School.
Allie had already developed a history of drug use but moving to Florida in the midst of a pill mill epidemic became the catalyst toward full-blown addiction. This lifestyle would continue to pull her downward for the next several years.
Severino first got involved with prescription drugs in the mid 2000s. She was dealing in Oxycontin, Roxicodone and ecstasy, this is also how she fueled her own powerful drug addiction. This toxic lifestyle started to quickly take an intense turn in June of 2007 when Severino was arrested for a laundry list of felony charges including multiple charges of drug trafficking.
Her case drew headlines because of the severity of her charges, and the decision that she would be considered a youthful offender instead of getting anything near the 120 year maximum sentence she faced. Judge Jorge Labarga, now on the Florida Supreme Court, told her he and the prosecutor were “sticking our necks out for you.”
This was a rare second chance opportunity but Allie knew she would be throwing it all away if she couldn’t get and stay clean. Thankfully as part of her sentence she was court ordered to nine months in a drug treatment facility. She was able to get in at South County Drug Abuse Foundation in Delray Beach, despite having no insurance.
Getting that chance is why she believes that everyone needs a second chance, and sometimes third and fourth chances, too.
Its been over 10 years since Allie graduated from that state ran treatment facility and tried to hit a ‘reset’ button on life. What she learned is that there is no magical button that reverses years of drug abuse, a criminal history or the pain her father felt watching his daughter throw her life away but as long as there is still air in her lungs there is a chance to change. No matter the adversity there is always hope.
Today, beyond being a woman in recovery Allie is a college student, a homeowner, a respected community member, an advocate for those battling mental illness, drug abuse and homelessness. She has turned her past into a passion and wakes up everyday with a smile on her face and an open mind and heart.
Allie is the President of Fresh Start Initiative, a program built to provide support and services for our under-served populations, particularly those who are uninsured or have very little support. Twice a week you’ll find Allie in a park conversing with our homeless population while handing out hygiene products and other essentials. When shes not there she is speaking with local law enforcment and policy makers to create programs that better serve the community.
Beyond Fresh Start Initiative, Allie is also an addiction resource specialist at Legacy Healing Centers, a leading substance abuse and mental health provider. She hosts and produces a T.V. series “Dopesick Nation” which premiered in 2018 on the Viceland network. Dopesick Nation spotlights the nations current drug epidemic and chronicals the lives of those seeking treatment and the obstacles faced for many looking for drug treatment.