By Rafi Josselson ’25
After 15 Years, TLS has begun partnering with a new organization for substance abuse education: Pathways for Prevention. Previously, the school worked with FCD (Freedom from Chemical Dependency) to create educational content for the TLS community.
Pathways for Prevention is led by co-founders Tim Ryan and Eduardo Torres, both of whom are recovering addicts who have made a career out of drug-prevention efforts. Torres, regardless of his addiction history, has always felt a calling to help others.
“I always had this perception that ever since I was little, my life will be meaningful if I’m able to devote it towards service,” Torres said. “When I got sober, that existential crisis got more pronounced and marked. I was introduced to prevention by Tim in El Salvador, when the American School of El Salvador had told me that they wanted me to do a class. So I was very, very fortunate that I found prevention, and that it kind of fell in my lap by mistake 12 years ago.”
Before founding Pathways for Prevention, both Ryan and Torres had extensive experience as prevention specialists at FCD, now called Hazelden Betty Ford Prevention Solutions, speaking at schools across the world. Director of Student Services Elisha Andron has helped to coordinate with these organizations and has seen the benefits that their programming has had.
“We hear students talking all the time about how they love the people they’ve met and [how] they’ve learned so much from them and incorporated their information into their daily healthy choices,” Andron said. “And we’ve also applied FCD language, certainly around social norms and anticipatory socialization and to other areas of our school culture.”
Junior Leo Ben-Avi first participated in FCD’s programming in sixth grade, and he feels he has benefited from the organization’s education.
“They provide us with a lot of information,” Ben-Avi said. “Giving you reasons to not use. Giving you different facts and stats that I think are interesting. I [also] think that their personal stories give you a sense of how they went through using various substances and the impact that it had on them.”
According to Ryan, prevention is critical when dealing with addiction. When working in treatment, he noticed that many of his patients’ addictions could have been avoidable if they had been educated about substance abuse risk factors.
“Most of these people had underlying anxiety, maybe other issues that might increase their risk for use,” Ryan said. “I also noticed that all of the patients in there all started at 14 or 15 years old or 16 [years old]. These people’s lives were shattered. And it’s the first time they really ever heard this [prevention education]. And it just reinforced more and more of how important prevention is, and that every person has a right to get the best information available so they can make the best choices for themselves.”
TLS Administrators and Prevention Specialists have close friendships and enjoy working with each other. This has led to one of the most significant successes of the program: the whole-team approach.
“We really believe that prevention takes a full team approach,” Andron said. “So that’s why we have the meetings with students. That’s why we have multiple faculty meetings during the week. And that’s why we have parent/guardian sessions in the evenings. We want to make sure that everyone’s using the same language and same vocabulary and understands the philosophy and how we’re approaching this.”
For years, FCD was considered the premier prevention education organization. But, Ryan and Torres felt that FCD’s values were changing. In response, they formed Pathways for Prevention.
“Hazelden Betty Ford was going in a different direction in their prevention-based approach,” Torres said. “We’ve been doing prevention for 12 years. We know what works in communities. Our mission principle is making memorable experiences for every single member of the community so that they’re able to retain that information with the hopes that if they’re ever faced with making a decision, they’ll make an informed decision. And we saw that also at the other organization, the quality metrics that we had become accustomed to were definitely declining.”
TLS also noticed that Hazelden Betty Ford was moving in a different direction. This new change in priorities, paired with a scheduling issue that delayed what was supposed to be FCD week in December, TLS decided to switch organizations.
“They [Hazelden Betty Ford] just had a different philosophy on how they wanted this arm of the organization to work,” Andron said. “This was kind of a program that was being phased out of their repertoire. And we were being priced out. This  was going to be our last year anyway, unfortunately, with FCD. It was just accelerated a year because of the scheduling [issue] that happened in December. We were excited to reconnect with Tim and Eduardo and their company Partnerships For Prevention. It proved to be a seamless transition”
While prevention specialists only visit TLS for one week out of the year, Pathways for Prevention will be providing ongoing support to TLS if and when questions arise. Reflecting on the experience he has had, Ben-Avi agrees with this and believes that the programming is well thought out.
“I think their approach is pretty good,” Ben-Avi said. “I’m sure that they’ve spoken about how they should approach different groups of kids or ages of kids. I think they’ve probably planned [that] out and I think it’s pretty successful.”