Everyone is exposed to the temptation to try alcohol or other drugs. Some people experiment for curiosity, kicks, boredom, peer pressure or to escape problems in their lives.
Alcohol and other drugs can gradually begin to take control of your daily life. Physical or mental dependence can sneak up on you! It is important to talk to your parents or someone else you trust if you or someone you know is facing an alcohol or drug problem.
You can't be sure how you and your body will react to using alcohol or other drugs. It will depend on what you use and how much. Permanent damage can happen at any point…even with the first use of some drugs.
It is important for young people to know the risks. When used in large amounts, over a long period of time, or in the wrong combinations, alcohol and other drugs can kill. The dangers of experimentation are overdose, addiction, physical illness, death, accidents, mental impairment.
Sometimes using drugs or alcohol seems like a good idea. There may be situations that you face at home or with your friends that make you feel bad, or that you want to make go away, or you want to fit in. You may think that using alcohol or drugs "will make it better". You have a choice about using alcohol or other drugs. Sometimes it may be necessary to make a choice for yourself that is different from the choices others make. You - not others - are in charge of your choices. More information on Peer Pressure is available.
Growing up in a family where a parent has an alcohol and/or other drug problem is one of the major family problems in our country today.
It may be difficult to get along with your parent who has the drug problem because s/he is not really able to think straight. Being under the influence of drugs may make him/her unfair, yell a lot, be unable to show love, and be neglectful of you or embarrass you in front of friends. Even if your parent makes decisions when not under the influence of alcohol and other drugs, his/her thinking is still affected by the many times s/he has used alcohol and other drugs.
In families where a parent is drugged up you may have been told, or just know without being told, that the rule is, "It is not OK to talk about what is going on in the family; not with other family members and not with outsiders".
This rule prevents you from getting the help that you need with your painful feelings. It also keeps the family from having the chance to get help. You are not responsible for your parent(s)' drug problems, and you can not prevent or stop their drug use. You can take responsibility to get the help you need to understand and deal with this situation. If you think that you or someone you care about may have an alcohol or other drug problem, it is important to get information about how to help yourself. Talk to someone who will listen to you - a parent, school counselor, religious leader or family doctor.
The following organizations will provide information and/or assistance (click on the agency's name for more information):