If you haven’t already, read Part 1 of Megan’s story here.
Hi guys, its Megan again! Growing up, we are all surrounded by peer pressure, whether we go to a small school in the suburbs, a big school in the city, or a class of 20 in a Catholic High School. Peer pressure knows no prejudice.
We had the D.A.R.E. program in my middle school and once a week a cop would come in and tell us all how drugs are bad, and all that stuff. But in the sixth grade, all we cared about was getting out of social studies class once a week. I didn’t take D.A.R.E. seriously, but I also didn’t know about my dad back then (I told my mom that if someone would have told me, I could have won the best in district medal instead of best in class, because I would have played my essay up real nice. But hey, what kid wants a new bike anyway?).
I wish they would have had D.A.R.E. when my dad was younger though, because he would have needed it. He could have learned about the harsh realities of drugs, and maybe could have made different choices in his life. But ultimately, while D.A.R.E. is an important program that all middle school children should have to go through, I think that by the time kids reach high school, they forget about what they learned and care more about what their friends think, and looking “cool.” So maybe my dad would have benefited from D.A.R.E., because the knowledge would have been in the back of his mind, but it takes more than that. Programs like Above the Influence help you learn how to deal with all the pressure that hits you in high school, and to make good decisions. I don’t know if it would have made a difference for my dad, but there’s always a chance.
My aunt would always tell me that my dad was so popular in high school. He was the star of the basketball team, and we will never hear the end of it about how he got called up to play with the high school kids when he was only in middle school, and was M.V.P. of the game. I’ve seen pictures of my dad when he was in high school, and he was a pretty good looking guy (I have to say that since I get half my genes from him), so why would a guy with great looks, great friends, and great talent ever do such a stupid thing as drugs? He did it because he could never stand anyone calling him chicken.
My dad threw his whole life away because he wouldn’t let someone call him chicken. People, let me tell you, if someone wants to call you chicken, let them! Drugs not only affect you, they affect your whole family too. Just because he couldn’t handle being called a chicken, I missed out on having my father in my life, my aunt lost her brother, and my father became estranged from most of his other family members. One word changed his life forever.
My family has faced so much pain all because my father couldn’t stand to let some little eighteen year old punk call him a chicken. Every time I talked to my father on the phone, I could tell he regretted all the missed birthdays, soccer games, and every other milestone over the years.
I’ll let anyone call me a chicken or a nerd or any name in the book if it means that I won’t end up like my dad. I’ve been told once or twice that I’m a lot like him and that has worried some people, including him, but I will never end up like him. I go to Penn State, and unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know what we do here, and I know where I stand.
I’ve left parties when I felt uncomfortable, I’ve said no to people offering me drinks or a joint (and then been called a bore). But I have a great time anywhere I go, and I’m 100% sober, because I like to remember all the fun I’ve had with my friends and family (besides if you say you need a drink to have fun, how much fun are you really?). If someone is telling you that you need todrink or smoke to have a good time or fit in, ask yourself why. They may be a friend, but in the moment, they may not have your best interest in mind.
The last time I talked to my father will forever be burned into my brain because he was high. I didn’t say anything or do anything about it. Three weeks later my mother came home from work and told me that he was dead. I know it wasn’t my fault, and my mother has told me that, but I still wish I would have done something. I don’t want his life. I don’t want to put my own kid through that, so please, if someone uses name-calling or another type of peer pressure to get you to try something you aren’t interested in, let them know you value yourself more than that, and strut out of there with your head held high and the rest of your life ahead of you.
If this story sounds familiar, you aren’t alone. Did you know that in the U.S., one out of four people under age 18 is exposed to alcoholism and drug dependence in their very own family? Learn more about When a Parent Uses.