This post was written by a CSUCI student.
Through working with Straight Up, I’ve been able to reflect on my own experiences involving drug and alcohol abuse. By bringing awareness to these dangerous activities, I’ve been able to get a better understanding of why underage kids and even my own siblings participate in them. I wasn’t able to help or essentially persuade my siblings against drugs and alcohol, but by using the knowledge I have now from my own experiences and with the help of Straight Up, I can hopefully make a difference for kids who are suffering from the same issues. By working at the Reality Party for Parents and sharing my story on Straight Up’s blog, I’ve been forced to fully feel the emotions and memories that I’ve tried so hard to push away.
I’ve been aware of drugs and alcohol since I was five years old. My father was an alcoholic and my two sisters quickly followed down the addiction path with underage drinking and an excessive amount of drug use. Because I was so young I couldn’t fully grasp the concept of addiction and how negatively it was affecting my family. As I got older I began to realize just how abnormal and heartbreaking my family’s situation really was.
It began really hitting me in high school when I saw my twin brother going down the same path. It started with skipping class and getting detention. I figured he was just immature and that he would grow out of his bad attitude and overall lack of respect towards his peers and teachers. He then began going out and partying with his friends on the weekends. Many teens in my town drank so I didn’t think much of it. I hoped he would be responsible enough to know his limits and drink in a safe environment. Of course, I’d prefer for him to not drink and party but what was I going to do? He wasn’t going to listen to his “boring,” drama nerd sister.
The partying became more and more frequent. Drinking on the weekends led to drinking after school. Drinking led to smoking pot. Smoking pot eventually led to experimenting with other, more dangerous and effective drugs. This experimentation led to my brother and a few of his friends becoming addicted to several of these drugs, the main one being meth.
My brother has thankfully recovered from his addiction, but many are not so lucky, including my two sisters who are still suffering from this dangerous and life-threatening disease. Many people, especially teens, don’t realize how one drink or smoke at a party can lead to a lifetime of addiction. I found out the hard way. If I had been informed of the many dangerous activities that go on at high school parties, I might have been able to help my brother handle these situations. My brother’s story is a perfect example of why Straight Up’s Reality Parties for Parents are so important. They’re performed to help people like me understand these activities that take place at high school parties and how we can prevent our peers and family from participating in them.
By working with Straight Up, I’ve been able to make a difference and educate my community on an issue that I am so passionate about. My thoughts on community service have definitely changed since working with this organization. I used to view it as a boring, time-consuming, mandatory obligation for a good class grade. In previous service learning projects, I was mainly focused on my grade and not the people I was helping or the positive impact I was having on them. Straight Up has helped me realize that it’s possible to make a difference in your community by incorporating the things or issues you’re passionate about. I’m extremely passionate about theater and drug awareness so the fact that I was able to combine both of those has made my service learning experience that much more enjoyable. I quickly discovered that community service doesn’t just have to be picking up trash at a local park. There are so many fun and innovative ways one can make a difference within their community.
If an organization like Straight Up had been around for my siblings, they might have been able to fight their addiction. Straight Up strives to make sure teens don’t go down the same path that my siblings and so many others go down. I was drawn to work with Straight Up because of this. I’m grateful that Straight Up has allowed me to help bring awareness to an issue that I’m so deeply affected by and passionate about. I’ve learned many tools and techniques on how to prevent teens from making the same mistakes.