When you look at their effects on your health and life, not so much…
Chances are you’ve already been around drugs. Maybe they’ve been at a party you’ve been to, or maybe they were offered to you at a friend’s house. You know that they’re around. You may have even tried them. Or maybe you are still weighing the pros and cons of experimenting with drugs. After all, you’re not naïve. You know the seriousness of drugs. Or do you?
What you may not know are the cold hard facts. What they can do to your judgment, your grades, and how they can alienate you from all the things you care about. Meet Stella. Stella didn’t always have it easy growing up. At 13, Stella changed schools. She was lonely and trying to fit in, until she met a new friend. Sarah was different. She smoked, she drank, and she was sexually active. Sarah’s mom even provided her with condoms. Soon Stella was trying the same things, getting drunk and getting high, and together they started running with an older crowd.
Stella lost her virginity at 14. She doesn’t remember that much of the experience, though. She was too high that night. “He was older and I didn’t realize what I was getting into,” she says. “I wish I could remember it as a special time, but it wasn’t. I was high.” Before long, Stella was flunking out of school. And then she dropped out. From 13 to 16, Stella smoked pot on a daily basis. At around 16, she started experimenting with cocaine and ecstasy. The harder the better, she thought. Gone were her school ambitions; drugs had taken over her mind. In fact, they had taken over her life. She started fighting with her parents and soon moved out. She bounced from house to house, never quite sure where she was going to end up each night. At 17, Stella started dating an older guy and got pregnant. They barely knew each other, but that didn’t matter when they were high.
It wasn’t until her baby girl was born with heart complications that Stella finally began to wake up. She watched her daughter spend the first few weeks of her life in intensive care, undergoing heart surgery. She had to bring her daughter for weekly checkups. Stella realized her decisions were affecting not only her life, but also the life of her baby girl. Stella wanted to be a mother her daughter could depend on.
Stella dropped her partying friends and went back to school. She took solace in her mother who, thankfully, had not turned her back on her. She says that if it wasn’t for her mother, she doesn’t know where she would be now. In between taking care of her daughter, taking her to the hospital for her many heart appointments, and working a part-time job as a cashier, Stella hit the books. She studied at night when her baby was asleep, determined to get her high school diploma. Now 21, Stella has finished high school through a series of correspondence courses. She plans on continuing her education and becoming a nurse so that she can learn more about her daughter’s condition and help other children born with the same complications.
When asked if she regrets any of her decisions, she answers quietly and slowly. Yes. She does. Her road has not been easy, she says. But she’s glad she got out when she did. Stella remembers friends who weren’t so lucky. She says they simply got sucked in too deeply. Today, Stella wants nothing more than a better life for her daughter. She hopes she’s learned enough of a lesson for both of them. “It’s not worth it,” she says. “It’s a long, hard road with drugs. It changes your perspective and makes you lose your ambition. I’ve never felt worse than [when I was] on drugs.”
DRUGS & ALCOHOL ADDICTIONS: HOW YOU CAN GET HELP
1. The Alcoholism and Addictions Resource Guide
A directory of hundreds of drug addiction centres, rehab, and recovery programs.
2. Drug Rehab Centres Canada
Locate a drug rehab program by province or city. Treatments range from out-patient and in-patient programs to meetings and detox clinics.
3. Bellwood Health Services Inc.
A website for family and friends of drug users, as well as those looking for help with their drug addiction.