Let's be honest here. Have you ever used or thought about using drugs? Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you felt pressured into using? Most teens use drugs to feel as if they fit in with the "in" crowd. Another reason is the dreadful trap of peer pressure. You know what I am talking about - the "Come on, everyone else is doing it" pressure. Each year, millions of teenagers fall victim to this urge. This happened to my mother, Mona. Read this article and maybe, just maybe, you will think twice about it.
How old were you when you first experimented with drugs? Were you pressured to do it ?
I was 13 years old when I first tried using marijuana. Yes, my friends pressured me to do it.
It was your decision, though; so why did you do it ?
All of my friends were doing it. I had been wanting to try it for a long time. When I started to hang out with a new group of kids at school, I was finally given the opportunity.
What drugs did you use?
Well, I started with marijuana. By my junior year in high school I started taking diet pills for the speed effect. I then discovered pharmaceutical white crosses, which is a very soft form of speed.
How did this new behavior affect your life at school?
Before drugs, in the eighth grade, I was president of my class, a cheerleader, and an honor roll student. Exactly a year later, when I was a freshman in high school, I ditched more school than I attended, I was kicked off the cheer squad, and I found out that I was pregnant at the age of 15.
How did this problem affect your home life?
My home life, which had always been dysfunctional, was now easier to tolerate because I had found an escape. I would get high before I went home, which put me into a different mood and made it a lot easier for me and my mother to get along. I would stay in my room until the evening and then I would go to one of my friend's houses and do it all again. When I would get home later that night, I would go to sleep until the next day. Then it would start all over.
How did your family react?
Four of my siblings all went to the same high school at the same time as me, so they knew the type of people that I was hanging out with and they did not approve. While some decided to quit talking to me entirely, my closest natural sister and I fought about it constantly.
Did you move on to harder drugs?
Yes. I was in my early twenties when I was first introduced to cocaine by a close friend; meth amphetamines soon followed.
Did you ever think that you would become addicted?
No. I had heard of drug addicts before, but I had always separated myself from "them." In the beginning, mine was an occasional use which I thought I could control.
When did you realize that you were wrong?
After about two years of using, I found that I could not function without it. My next high became my first priority. I could no longer take care of my family or hold a job.
Was that when you realized you needed help?
No, it wasn't until my four children were taken away by their grandparents and my husband and I were homeless that I decided I needed help - not because I wanted it, but because I had nowhere else to go.
Are you clean today?
Yes, by the grace of God, I have been clean for three years.
How did checking into rehab change your Iife?
In rehab I learned that addiction is a disease, that without treatment it would eventually kill me. I learned to deal with my feelings, good and bad, instead of always trying to numb them. I learned that I didn't have to use ever again if I didn't want to. I learned that, though I will never be "cured," I have a daily reprieve in recovery. The most important thing that I learned is that there is a God who loves me, and wants me to be happy, joyous, and free, and I can be, one day at a time.
What advice would you give to people who occasionally use drugs?
Stop while you can. Addiction happens before you know it. I went from a casual user to a full-blown addict without ever seeing it coming. What seems fun and games now will soon be your worst nightmare. Drugs claim people of all races, religions, and backgrounds. It has no boundaries. It makes us liars, manipulators, and thieves. It takes values and morals and twists them until they are non-existent. But you don't have to take that road; many millions of us have already taken it for you, and it's not fun. Doing drugs is a choice; say no before there is no longer a choice to be made.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.