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The phrase "Hugs not drugs" was adopted by retired American basketball player Al Szolack as part of his campaign to keep kids off drugs. Szolack was born in 1950 and raised in Woodbury, New Jersey. After college, he played basketball for the traveling exhibition team The Washington Generals. After Szolack’s short term basketball career, he moved to Fort Lauderdale where he worked as a bartender and bouncer. During this time Szolack’s mother suffered a fatal heart attack. He mourned the loss of his mother by self medicating with drugs and alcohol which turned into a seven year struggle. After losing friends, money, and his fiancée Carol to his drug use, Szolack, not knowing where to turn, went to his fiancée's mothers house where he admitted his addiction. She embraced him with a hug, which Szolack has repeatedly credited as the reason he was able to turn his life around. For over a decade, Szolack has run a basketball camp dedicated to helping children stay away from drugs and make positive life choices. He also reaches out to high school students throughout the state of New Jersey by giving speeches about the dangers of drug addiction.
Brooklawn is an area of Camden County, New Jersey. Within the Brooklawn area, there are several drug rehabilitation centers.
Evans, B. (2021). "Big Al" Szolack teaches kids to Do Hugs, Not Drugs at annual basketball camp. Retrieved 18 February 2021, from https://www.nj.com/gloucester-sports/2012/07/big_al_szolack_teaches_kids...
Delvin, S. (2021). “Big” Al Szolack says, “Do hugs, not drugs” - The Sun Newspapers. Retrieved 18 February 2021, from https://thesunpapers.com/2018/07/01/big-al-szolack-says-do-hugs-not-drugs/
profile, V. (2021). Washington Generals Top Players: Al "Big Al" Szolack. Retrieved 18 February 2021, from http://washingtongeneralsfan.blogspot.com/2011/07/washington-generals-to...