DEAR ABBY: I am an 18-year-old female college student, and it saddens me to see what a big problem drugs and alcohol have become to the youth of today.
Seven years ago when I was 11, I, too, wanted to get high once, "just to see what it was like." Well, four years and one arrest, a long-term psychiatric hospitalization and $30,000 later, I finally admitted that I had a serious problem -- not to mention the pain and grief I caused my family.
I never intended to become an addict. Nobody does. I just wanted to try it because all the "cool" people did drugs, and I wanted to be "cool," too.
It has been three years since I've touched any drug, but it's still a daily struggle. I was very lucky to have received help. By the time I turned 15, I weighed 85 pounds and had more cocaine, methamphetamine, marijuana and alcohol in my blood than any human body should have been able to tolerate. Because of drugs, I have also had to bury three friends I used to "party" with.
Today, I'm doing wonderful things with my life and am proud of my accomplishments. Abby, if just one person who reads this will stop and think about what experimenting with drugs did to me, then everything I've been through will not have been in vain. -- OLDER, WISER AND CLEAN
DEAR OLDER, WISER AND CLEAN: I hope that other teens will take your painful and hard-earned lesson to heart. Nothing teaches as effectively as the voice of experience.