For several years, the SAFE Foundation has been talking to children in our community about the dangers of drugs and alcohol. We are always happy to hear from teens who have heeded our warnings and have chosen to abstain from these substances. Recently we interviewed three young community members who have remained clean teens.

A 21-year-old male: The reason I have never gone down the path of drug and alcohol abuse is because my parents have been speaking to me since the day I started high school about the pressure to want to fit in with others; they warned me about what it could lead to. When I turned 17, my parents told me repeatedly that they would take away my rights to the car if I would ever be found drinking or using drugs. I also admire my parents and seek their approval, therefore I naturally stay away from things they would not do. They do not drink, so I think that it was easier for me, than for some of my peers, to understand first-hand what it looks like to be happy and successful and not living a lifestyle that includes drinking. In high school, I just tried to make smart decisions to begin building a successful life. It would be more difficult to perform my daily activities and work toward the achievement of my goals if I were getting drunk and taking drugs. I love to play sports, and know that my performance would be negatively affected by the use of these substances. I have heard about how drugs and alcohol have ruined many lives, marriages, and families. I was especially impacted by accounts of community members who shared their stories with us in school. They told about what disasters drugs and alcohol brought upon their lives and loved ones. Even if some people think there’s only a small chance that they can get affected, it is a chance that I’m not willing to take. I do have friends that use drugs and drink. Some of these friendships have dissolved, because they would try to pressure me to join them. When they would, I’d tell them it’s not for me; just like they have things they are not interested in, I’m not interested in doing drugs and getting drunk. I have a small group of friends who are similar to me. I tend to spend the most time with them.

A 26-year-old female: My mother always warned me that if I were to lead that type of life, I’d be sorry later. She also emphasized that when people get drunk, they do things they end up regretting and say things they never intended to share with anyone. She explained to me how this could ruin relationships forever; this definitely scared me. Some of my friends were drinking when I was in high school. Even though they offered for me to join them, they knew not to pressure me; they knew that it was just not my type of thing to do. We also had a nutrition class once a week in high school where the teachers would discuss these topics. Those classes and an assembly given by The SAFE Foundation in my senior year made a huge impact on me.

A 17-year- old female: I notice that people who do drugs do so to escape reality. They turn to drugs and alcohol instead of facing their problems head-on. I also notice that their problems rarely go away. If anything, they grow! Something else I see is that people often procrastinate while on drugs; this probably makes it take longer for them to reach their goals.

I was never pressured into doing drugs. My friends respect and understand why I choose not to. I have many groups of friends, so if I ever feel uncomfortable in the group that enjoys drinking, I just go to the other one. Because they all respect my lifestyle choices, they understand why I don’t enjoy hanging out with them when they drink and whatnot.