I recently interviewed a young man and woman who are both in recovery to ask them questions about their lives and early drug use. I thought I would share their answers with you. Please keep in mind that these are the experiences of only two people. Every addict has a different story.
Below are their answers (M = Male, F = Female):
1. How old were you when you started using drugs?
2. What, if anything, could your parents have done to prevent you from getting into drugs?
M: Nothing really. I was the type of kid who was stubborn so when I had it in my head I was going to do it nothing was going to stop me.
F: Maybe if it wasn’t around me growing up it may have made a difference but, truthfully, I feel that I would have tried drugs anyway. I will never know for sure.
3. What, if anything, can other parents do to prevent their children from getting into drugs?
M: Look for signs of drug use; look for signs of mental illness at a young age so that you can stay on top of it before it gets out of control; get them involved as much as you can in hobbies, activities or sports that they are interested in; and let them have friends over instead of them going out all the time.
F: Don’t use drugs around your kids; talk to them about drugs; don’t get mad at them and put them down if they do tell you they tried drugs because it makes them want to use again; maybe put them in Big Brothers/Big Sisters so they can get a good role model; keep them busy in sports or something like that; do family things; and meet their friends and their parents;
4. Did you take any drug prevention programs in school? If so, what grade(s)?
M: No. There were none offered at the time.
F: No. They weren’t offered.
5. Did your parents talk to you about drugs? If so, at what age(s)?
M: Yes. Starting at age 10 (somewhere around there).
6. Did you parents use alcohol or drugs in your home?
7. Why do you think young people use drugs?
M: Peer pressure, boredom, self-medicating.
F: To escape, peer pressure, curious, easily accessible, boredom.
8. Did you use drugs during the school day in junior high school?
M: Yes, sometimes. I started around the end of my Grade 8 year.
F: Yes, a lot. Starting in the beginning of Grade 8, I smoked weed almost everyday at lunch time, and snorted Ritalin in the washroom two or three times a week.
9. Did you use drugs during the school day in high school? Where did you use?
M: Yes, all through high school, everyday and every drug you can think of. I used at home, in cars, bathrooms, classrooms, hallways, outside, or wherever else we could find a quiet spot.
F: Yes, most days. I used in bathrooms, friends houses, my own house, outside, and in cars.
10. As a student, where did you find your drugs? Did any of your drugs come from the medicine cabinet in your home?
M: Drug dealers in school or in town. No one in my family was prescribed painkillers so I didn’t have access at home.
F: Drug dealers in school and around town. No, there weren’t any in my medicine cabinet.
11. What signs did your parents miss when it came to your drug use? How did you change?
M: My parents saw the signs and tried to get help for me but I wasn’t interested at that time. They weren’t educated or experienced with drugs so didn’t know what to do after I refused help.
F: My mom missed the signs at first because she was never home but when she got clean, she started seeing the signs. At that time, I moved in with relatives who were clueless.
12. What signs should parents look for?
M: More withdrawn, missing school, grades dropping, loss of interest in things they used to like, change in friends, avoiding eye contact, not going to family events as often, having a job and no money to show for it, and stuff goes missing because they are selling them for drug money.
F: Pupils dilated or really small, glossy or red eyes, sleeping patterns changing, money hungry, more edgy, grades go down, staying out more, change in friends, change in weight, change in hygiene, losing jobs, and sneaky behaviour.
13. When you started using, what would have stopped you from continuing?
M: Nothing because I liked it too much and had to learn on my own.
F: Dying. I fell in love with it right away.
14. Were you bullied in school?
M: A little bit on the bus in elementary school.
F: Yes, in Grade 7 for a couple of months. It got really bad. Police were involved.
15. Do you have any type of mental illness such as depression? At what age were you diagnosed?
M: Depression and ADD. I was diagnosed when I was 16-years-old.
F: Depression. I was diagnosed when I was 14-years-old.
16. What type of student were you before you started using drugs?
M: I was a good student who got good grades.
F: I was a good student with good grades.
17. Were you involved in any extracurricular activities in or out of school right before you started using?
M: Concert and Jazz bands in junior and high school.
F: Girl Guides for a couple of months when I was 11.
18. Before you started using, what types of things did you do in your free time?
M: Hung out with friends, played music, played some video games but not a lot, and family time.
F: Spent a lot of time with friends and some time with family.
19. If you could talk to yourself as a kid (before you started using drugs) what would you say to yourself about drugs?
M: Stay away from drugs altogether because they are bad for you. Drugs will ruin your life, get you put in jail, ruin your health, ruin your relationships with family and friends, and destroy your reputation.
F: Drugs will make you sick and ruin your relationships. When kids ask you to try drugs, just say no. It is not cool no matter what anybody says. You will be cooler if you do not do it. It leads you nowhere except jails, institutions and death. (It is hard to answer this because if a kid has it in their head that they are going to do it, it is hard to stop them.)
20. What is your biggest regret with your drug use?
M: Hurting my family and also getting a criminal record.
F: Losing the trust of my loved ones because of all my lying to get drugs. I ruined all my relationships because no one trusts me anymore. It is hard to get the trust back once it is gone.
21. Is there anything else that you would like to add?
M: If you need help, ask for it. The longer you use the harder it is to get clean and the more people you hurt.
F: Seek out help if you need it. When you can stop, you don’t want to and when you want to stop, you can’t. Get help early!
These two individuals have agreed to answer any questions you may have about drugs. Please post them in the comment section and we will try to cover them in a later post.
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