Don’t Play with Fire . . . or Drugs

I grew up in a rather large family and like most brothers and sisters we roughhoused a little. Our dad always warned us, “It’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt.” We thought, “Dad, we won’t get hurt.” Sometimes we were smart enough to stop, but other times we would just get injured--clunk heads or fall on the floor too hard.

Another phrase you might hear growing up basically says the same thing: “Play with fire, and you’ll get burned.” It’s fun to watch fire. You’ll light a match and the warm glow mesmerizes you---until the heat snaps you out of it just in time to put the match out.

Drugs are the same way. They may be fun at first, but like the fire burning up a match, the high is fleeting and contains all the potential to harm you. Play with drugs, and you will get hurt.

When we played rough around the house, we thought we could control our play so that we wouldn’t get hurt. More than often we couldn’t and the same goes for drugs. The great deception is thinking you can control the drug. It’s all fun and games until you are addicted.

Many teens across America have the mindset that drugs and alcohol are fun and relatively harmless, that they can use them in high school, party some more at college and then they will stop when the pressure to fit in is not so great. Unfortunately, some don’t make it far enough to even try to stop, and others become addicts that cannot stop on their own because they desperately need treatment.

"The patterns of alcohol and drug use that emerge during adolescence are increasingly recognized as important determinants of later substance use behavior and associated disorders," Joel Swendsen, PhD, from the National Center for Scientific Research at the University of Bordeaux, France

Last July in Santa Rosa, Takeimi Rao did not get the chance to stop drinking, or even to drink too much for that matter. She died from a fatal dose of a date rape drug called GHB- or in (chem lingo) the chemistry language, gamma-hydroxybutyric acid. Takeimi was only 14.

Authorities are unsure of where the drug came from, because Takeimi was not at a party where someone may have slipped GHB into her drink. She was actually at home with three friends sleeping over. They drank a mixture of soda and a clear liquid that they thought was Vodka. The three girls woke up in the middle of the night vomiting, while Takeimi never woke up that morning. Takeimi innocently lit a match that ended up being a tiny stick of dynamite. 

Others are given the opportunity to heal after getting burned by the fire of drugs and alcohol. Josh Forsythe grew up around Spring Hill, Tennessee, and began drinking when he was 14. He also abused painkillers after a soccer injury. Less time in sports gave him more time to drink with his friends.

By 20, Josh had been in jail twice. During his second time in jail, he participated in an inpatient treatment program, and then an outpatient program. Now, he is living a healthy and sober life. He reminds parents to be there for their kids and encourages other teens that “if they mess up, all is not lost. They might be tempted to say, ‘Oh well, I ruined everything, I might as well drink and use,’ but you can restart your life at any time.”

If you or a loved one have been burned by alcohol or drugs, there is always hope.