Teen Drug and Alcohol Abuse: A Straight Edge Perspective

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Senior Beyza Ozer on gay marriage.

By Beyza Ozer

In high school, teenagers are presented with constant pressures. Some are about school, friends, significant others or family problems. A huge issue that teenagers face today is the abuse of drugs and alcohol, which seems to be “normal” for the younger generation to experiment with.

What many people are unaware of is that as much as we teenagers like to believe we’re all grown up, our brains don’t fully develop until the age of at least 25. This means that by abusing drugs and alcohol while the brain is still developing, there can be major consequences that will arise later in your life such as addiction and permanent damage to the brain. It may seem “cool” or a way to get rid of stress and sadness in the moment, but in the long run, all of the negative effects catch up to you.

At times, it might seem like everyone around you is doing drugs. It can be extremely difficult to abstain from all the harmful substances your peers are trying out, but sometimes you need to be the stronger person. It sounds completely cheesy, but it’s okay to just say no. What’s the worst that could possibly happen if you refuse to do drugs? If you think about it, the pros don’t outweigh the cons.

I believe that everyone has the right to choose what they want to do with their own lives. Personally, I have chosen to live the rest of my life sober, because frankly, I have no interest in taking drugs or drinking alcohol whatsoever. My choice is to be Straight Edge, which means that I refrain from doing drugs or drinking for my entire life. That may seem insane to some people, but I find it even crazier that teenagers younger than me are poisoning their bodies before they even have a chance to grow up. I’m seventeen, which is an extremely young age, and there are fourteen-year-old teens I know who think the only way to be accepted in high school is to smoke marijuana. This is super bothersome to hear, because the truth is you probably won’t see many of the people you’re trying to impress again until your tenth high school reunion.

I’ve lost numerous friends because of drug and alcohol abuse. It’s difficult to watch people I’ve known for a long time ruin their lives by getting addicted to drugs in their early teen years. I’m aware that people need to live their own lives and that if someone wants to try a certain substance, it’s their own choice, but we teens are going through an awkward time right now. We’re struggling with homework, college applications, boyfriends and girlfriends and basically anything else one can think of. No one understands the hardships we’re faced with on a daily basis. Adding harmful substances to the picture does nothing but complicate relationships and important aspects in our lives like school and family. Some of your peers might say smoking or drinking could make you forget about these pressures, but that relief only lasts for a short while. These substances could make you feel better in the moment, but your problems will not be solved by them. Your issues will still be there after you come down from whatever high you’ve just had.

A senior, who prefers to stay anonymous, shared her past experiences she had with drugs, alcohol and partying. “I first tried smoking weed when I was about fifteen. At first, I thought it was a good idea because my best friends were doing it, and it just felt good,” she said. “After a while, I started to realize that my ‘friends’ didn’t really care about hanging out with me; they just wanted my money to buy more and more drugs. My grades went down, I became distant from my friends who were sober, and my relationship with my parents suffered. It was a huge mistake, but a learning experience. My life is way better without drugs.”

I think all of us can say that we’ve made mistakes in the past, but that’s no reason to continue making the mistakes that are totally fixable. In order to take full responsibility for our actions and become successful adults, we need to realize that drugs are not the only path to take. There’s always someone to talk to when it comes to pressures, and though it may feel like you’re the only one not doing drugs, you’re not. There are a lot of students that don’t partake in the drug and alcohol lifestyle, myself included. And frankly, I’m proud to say that.