Dose of Reality

Dose of RealityIn a proactive initiative to address the dangers of substance misuse, underage drinking, and vaping among teens, Biddeford High School (BHS) hosted the renowned assembly program "A Dose of Reality." Presented by Emergency Department Nurse Linda Dutil, R.N., this eye-opening program engaged over 800 students in grades 8-12 with a unique blend of seriousness, humor, and emotion, delivering impactful insights into the consequences of risky behaviors.

According to the 2023 Maine Integrated Youth Health Survey (MIYHS) data, prevention efforts in our community are having a positive impact. Alcohol use in high school-aged students has decreased from 29.4% (2019) to 16.1% (2023), and Cannabis use has also seen a decline from 19.3% (2019) to 16.3% (2023). Vaping is a growing concern, with a notable surge from 2.6% in 2019 to a concerning 11.8% of students reporting past 30-day use.

"A Dose of Reality" is not just an assembly; it's an interactive and dynamic presentation that emphasizes intervention skills, equipping students with the knowledge to make informed choices and stay safe in various situations. Dutil’s engaging personality draws the audience in, creating a space for them to learn and discuss crucial topics surrounding drug use, underage drinking, alcohol poisoning, drinking and driving, and driver and seatbelt safety. The program brings with it a strong emphasis on why it is critical to seek help when an unforeseen situation occurs, no matter the circumstance.

“Fostering an open dialogue with students about the dangers of substance misuse is just as important as developing lifelong healthy behaviors,” said Martha Jacques, Biddeford High School Principal. “Linda brought a unique perspective thanks to her extensive background as an emergency room nurse, and her ability to share age-appropriate stories truly resonated with our students. She shared different ways to say no and what to do if their friend is in trouble.” 

Over the past several years, Dutil has reached thousands of students across the country, delivering impactful presentations that focus on the real-life consequences of poor choices. The program is designed to educate without being graphic or adopting a scared-straight approach, ensuring students stay attentive and engaged throughout the 45-minute assembly.

Local public health partner and Director of the Coastal Healthy Communities Coalition Cheri Anderson adds, “Having youth hear from someone who has witnessed or experienced the dangers of substance misuse firsthand is very powerful.  Research shows that youth who have consistent messaging over time from a variety of sources are less likely to use and make healthier choices.”

Biddeford High School is committed to providing its students with educational opportunities that empower them to make responsible choices and lead healthy lives, including valuable insights and strategies to navigate the challenges they may face.  To review the 2023 detailed results of the Maine Integrated Youth Health Survey, visit   To learn more about the Dose of Reality presentation or Linda Dutil, R.N., visit


PHOTO CAPTION #1: Biddeford High School students and staff pose for a photo with A Dose of Reality presenter Linda Dutil, R.N.  From left to right: (first row) Grady O'Connor, Jackson Wood, Tyler Pelletier, Linda Dutil, Dylan Lao, James Grover, Colin Murphy, Olivia Hayford; (second row) Kyle Normand, Jackson Donovan, Andrew Pelletier, Joshua Campbell, Mariah Villandry, Janessa Johnson; (third row) Jillian Desrochers, Emma Cote, Cordelia Kane.

PHOTO CAPTION #2: A Dose of Reality presenter Linda Dutil, R.N. speaks to Biddeford High School students at an assembly on March 21, 2024, with the help of students Marcus Perkins (sitting) and London Tellier (standing).