Founding NOPE Pinellas

Pinellas County residents Mark and Laurie Serra lost their son, Matthew to a prescription drug overdose in 2008. 

Rather than turning inward, angry, or bitter they decided that the best way to remember Matthew was to act. 


Mark and Laurie Serra have since worked tirelessly both in Pinellas county and in the state of Florida to bring about change in laws and in educating the community on prescription drug abuse.

Devastated by Matthew's tragic death, Mark and Laurie realized how much they did not understand and how many signs they had missed along the way related to Matthew’s substance abuse.  

Matthew died in October of 2008 and by February of 2009 Mark and Laurie were driving to Florida’s state capitol in Tallahassee, speaking before legislative committees related to Florida’s epidemic of prescription drug abuse. Mark worked tirelessly to help educate legislators and eventually the passing of the prescription drug monitoring plan for Florida.

Mark and Laurie founded Narcotics Overdose Prevention and Education (NOPE) in Pinellas County in October of 2009. The first NOPE vigil was held that month to remember those lost to drug abuse and to remember those thousands fighting addiction within the Pinellas County community. Approximately 350 people attended that first vigil.

It didn’t stop there.

Mark and Laurie reached out to the Pinellas County Schools and, with the a growing NOPE task force, began speaking to middle and high school students in grade level assemblies.

Subsequent to a NOPE assembly, parents often approach us with stories of how the NOPE message has impacted their children and enabled open conversations in their homes. 

Finally, we have heard multiple stories of students who remembered the NOPE message and then called 911, saving their friend’s life after a night of prescription drug experimentation.



Matthew Serra, 1979 - 2008

Matthew Serra, 1979 - 2008