If you’re new to my page, let me get you up to speed. I’m a 44-year-old recovering hot mess who, from 1987 to 1996, used to grab her ankles on the stripper stage in Waikiki, where I grew up. I survived some pretty major shit as a kid and am writing a book about how it all comes together – after everything fell apart.
My main squeeze was Blow, but I had a torrid affair with Ecstasy after our introduction on my 21st birthday, and for a solid five years, I was in love with both. Booze was always my back-burner bitch, and every now and then Acid and Shrumes crashed the party. But Cocaine – from the moment I snorted my first line at fourteen – she was The One.
You may be wondering how a freshman in high school could even get their hands on drugs. Trust me. It ‘aint hard. At least, it wasn’t in the 80s. But I gotta say, with the current drugs of choice coming straight from mom and dad’s medicine cabinet these days, I can’t imagine accessibility being a huge deal.
But how could a parent not know?
Parents don’t see what they don’t want to believe. It’s the Holy Grail of addiction for a kid: we know you think you know, and with every turn of your blind eye, we delve deeper into our addiction. Of course, not every high schooler who pops a pill, smokes a joint, slams a beer or even tries blow is an addict. But so what? Isn’t even one kid who uses too many? And let’s get real – there are shitloads of kids getting high. Not buying it? Here’s a free sample of some raw facts:
“Recent research by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse reveals that drug use among teens has reached epidemic levels: a staggering ONE out of every THREE teenagers meets the medical criteria for addiction.” Kristen Johnston – SLAM
That little nugget of Scary is a direct quote from SLAM (Sobriety, Learning and Motivation), an organization actress and author Kristen Johnston started five years ago, which assists New York City’s youth in recovery.
The deeper I dig into my own personal story, with every chapter that unfolds within the safety of my words as I write this book, the more I’m realizing – what a gift Kristen and SLAM is to our kids and families today.
I can’t help but wonder how different my own path would’ve been, had I been part of a sober high school.
But regret is an allergy for us addicts – if we allow ourselves even a taste – we break out in shame. And life is fucking hard enough without having to disinfect our past. So we move forward, one day at a Goddamned time, navigating around the land mines of blame.
But someone is to blame.
Every addict has their own story, so there’s no way we can blanket the world with one giant finger-pointing party. The bottom line is, once your child is in trouble, in the immediate sense, it really doesn’t matter how they got there (ok, it does, but you’ll have plenty of time to figure that out during Family Week).
The hooks of addiction are sharp and unmerciful, and they don’t need a reason to puncture, they just need the skin. And when it comes to our children, SLAM (and every sober high school in the country) is the greatest armor we have.
I’m not a therapist, interventionist, doctor or specialist – but what I can tell you is teenage addiction (and depression) is REAL. If you need more proof, here’s a poem I wrote, high on cocaine in 1983. I was fifteen.
If you’re wondering whether your teen (or anyone you know) is an addict, TheFix.com is a great source of information.
For more information on Kristen’s sober high school, SLAM, please visit their website www.slamnyc.org.