Engaging young people in advocacy, education & prevention
Creating social change around alcohol, drugs, and more

How Did We Become Strangers?

April 28, 2020 5:04 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

Written by a senior at CSUCI.

My parents divorced when my sister and I were young. (I will refer to my sister as Janet). My mother, several years later, began dating a new man, let’s call him Dave. Dave had two children – I will refer to them as Samantha and Tom. Samantha was my sister’s age, and Tom was my age. We all became fast friends (we were 8 at the time) and enjoyed our “play dates” and spending time with each other.

A few years passed, and we all ended up moving into the same house around 2010. In middle school, we studied together, complained together, and stayed up late together. I had noticed Samantha seemed to have a hard time finding the right crowd, but we were still young then and no one thought much of it. 

Later, in high school, Samantha seemed to drift a bit. I noticed she became moodier at home, was doing poorly in classes, and quickly went from friend to friend, not having much stability. I’d often ask her how she was doing, and if she needed help, but she never offered up much information. 

After that, Tom and I started college. Samantha began having more issues. Janet accused Samantha of stealing money from her, and Samantha also got in trouble after Dave found out that she was smoking and drinking. After she was grounded and drug tested, she seemed to be depressed, never leaving her room. Later that year, I got a phone call from my mother letting me know that Samantha had stolen her car and was missing. There was a lot of tension in the household. Dave, not wanting to report the car as stolen, instead reporting Samantha as missing as to avoid her getting arrested for theft. This put a lot of strain on my mom and Dave’s relationship at the time. 

We eventually found her, and I spent the night with her in a hotel because she refused to come home. We didn’t speak much, but I took her to dinner and tried to provide the emotional support she needed. Later I found out she was habitually smoking marijuana, cigarettes, and experimenting with cocaine. 

After the car incident, she went to rehab a couple times. I would send her letters and books, and visited her. Things seemed good for a month or two, and she was eventually released and came back home for a bit before relapsing again, and going to rehab again. As one of her supporters, I became exhausted with the roller coaster ride. 

After that, she came back home for a while. Things were tense; my mom purchased safes for Janet and me to put in our bedroom, and changed the doorknobs to have passcode locks. I had never seen Dave so sad and stressed. Tom seemed a bit indifferent at this point. 

Image shows teenage girl with messy hair, dark circles around her eyes, sitting on the ground against the wall. She has one knee propped up, with her arm leaning on it, and is a holding a syringe in her hand. She looks very drugged.

After being caught with hard drugs again, Samantha attacked Dave at knifepoint in our house and he had no choice but to call the police. She was taken to juvenile hall at the time and stayed for a couple days. After that, my mom gave Dave an ultimatum, that either Samantha couldn’t live with us anymore or my mom would not live with him anymore. He ended up choosing the former, and Samantha began living with her mom full time. Tensions remained high in the house, and Dave continued to seem to be at wits end. 

While living with her mom, Samantha ran away on several occasions, and overdosed on 2 occasions, thankfully surviving. After her second overdose, she ran away for good, living and dating a 34 year old man who lived in Ojai who also did drugs. She was 18 at the time. 

After she stopped dating him, Samantha moved to Florida to live with Dave’s sister, hoping for the opportunity to “start anew.” She and I haven’t spoken much at this point. She was there for only a month before stealing Dave’s sister’s things, getting arrested and assaulting an officer, which put her in jail with additional drug possession charges. She’s been in jail for a few months now, and although it makes me sad that she is going through this, part of me is relieved that she is off the streets and has been clean. 

The period of time between the car being stolen and now is approximately three years. I’m about to graduate college soon, and it saddens me that Tom, Janet and I don’t think about Samantha so much anymore. Almost like a good friend who you haven’t seen in years, they drift to the back of your mind. I wish nothing but health and success for Samantha, but it has personally been so difficult for me and the rest of my family to have to struggle with her through her addiction. Every time she updated her Facebook page, her drug usage was more and more evident.

I’m not sure exactly how she began to get into drugs, but I can say that I strongly believe that gateway drugs such as cigarettes and marijuana DO lead to harder drug usage and peer pressure. People always think they’re in control until suddenly they’re not. Make informed choices.