Nine months after she resolved to get clean after years of drug abuse, an 18-year-old recovering crack and heroin addict named Jessica told a Pittsburgh audience yesterday how it all began, says the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Jessica, who is now studying cosmetology, shared her personal journey to recovery during a roundtable discussion with other Pittsburgh teens to help educate parents on the realities of teen drug use. Organized by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, this teen drug awareness campaign is being held in cities across the country to remind parents of the important role they play in keeping teens drug-free and to offer tips that will help them accomplish that goal.
“A lot of parents want to be their child’s friend rather than take parental responsibility,” said Robert Denniston of the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign. A recent survey done by the White House drug office in Pennsylvania found that 23 percent of high school seniors had used marijuana a month prior to the survey and 34 percent were binge drinking, meaning they had consumed more than five drinks in a row in the past two weeks. Four local teens in yesterday’s discussion agreed that cellular phones, text messages, e-mail and instant messages are popular vehicles for teens to get drugs. “I really wish my parents had checked more on me and been more intrusive on my privacy,” said Mike, an 18-year-old recovering drug addict who started smoking weed at age 11 and progressed to heroin and crack cocaine. Dr. Pamela Murray of Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh said a prime reason teens use drugs is self-medication. She said those with mental health and emotional problems are more likely to use drugs to help them perform and feel better, more capable, and more confident.