Dear Readers: I will be publishing this series of essays over the next few days. Please pay attention as they reveal what some of our students, our kids, are going through. It might be harder than we all seem to think. Today, explains how the essays came about and first place winner will be below. Because the parents are meth addicts, the first place winner is not identified. Diana
Submission from the Alano Club:
The San Pedro Alano Club (SPAC) announced the winners of their essay contest for students at an award ceremony held at the club on January 23rd.
The students wrote essays of 500 words or less titled Why I Choose to Live Drug free. According to Bob Ahl, the Alano Club’s Director and General Manager, more than 50 students from local Middle and High Schools competed for cash prizes.
Contest winners were: 1st place, J.H., San Pedro High School, senior ($300.00), 2nd place, Xander Gangemi ,POLA High School, senior ($150.00), 3rd place Clarissa Montano, Dana Middle School, 8th grade ($75.00), 4th Place, Kcee Thomas, Patton High School, junior ($50.00).
The contest kicked off an outreach program by the San Pedro Alano Club to create awareness and promote prevention of drug and alcohol use amongst San Pedro‘s student population. Citing statistics from two recently released studies by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America (PADFA) and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), Mr. Ahl noted an alarming spike in drug and alcohol use among students in grades 9-12.
“The PDFA study reported an increase in ‘last month’ alcohol use of 11%, marijuana use increased by 19% and ecstasy use by 67% when compared to the 2009 survey. The NIDA study for 2010 reached similar conclusions,” according to Ahl. “These statistics, alarming as they are, come as no surprise to us. We see kids coming here for help with substance abuse problems at a younger and younger age each year,” Ahl said. “The SPAC has initiated an outreach program, Kids Against Drugs (KAD 2011), to aggressively combat the problem of drug and alcohol use amongst Pedro teens. We will be involving students, parents, teachers, recovery specialists, law enforcement and the business community in a robust effort to break the cycle of teen drug and alcohol use in our community,” Ahl stated.
“I talk to kids every day who are sent here by the courts and schools for drug related problems. Many want to quit using but can’t imagine life without drugs and alcohol. The most common complaint I hear from students is, ‘there’s nothing to do in Pedro for kids.’ With support from students and parents we plan to hold safe, sane and sober events at the Alano Club on a regular basis,” Ahl commented.
Drug addiction is a major problem in San Pedro. I have lived here my entire life and I don't think a day has passed where I haven't seen drugs in my surroundings. I have never used drugs in large part due to the environment I grew up in. My parents have been Meth addicts for more than 15 years. My earliest childhood memories are of Meth tearing my parents down and our family apart. They have been in and out of rehabs, programs and prison for the past six years.
The one thing that most affected me was the fact that they did not take care of our family. They have nothing more than the title of mother and father, contributing very little to the responsibilities that come with those titles. As the oldest of three I have taken on the responsibility of head of our family and caretaker for my sister and brother. I am mother to my brother who is 10 years my junior and mentor to my sister. I have always been aware that what my parents were doing was wrong and destructive to them and most importantly to our entire family. The cycle of drug addiction in our family has been long and until this day not totally resolved. My father is now in prison on drug related charges. This is his third incarceration in the past ten years. My mother is trying to reestablish her role in our family.
The one thing my parents have given me is the power to say no to drugs. It is my goal to lead a productive life that does not reflect on the lives of my parents. For me drugs have never been an option because of the many responsibilities I have. In spite of that, drugs have been tempting for me at times. I have a nagging question that if my parents were willing to give up their health, their freedom and their family for drugs… are they worth it? I have concluded that drugs could never be worth all that I would lose. In our community drugs are abundant. At school I see classmates decimated by drugs each year at a younger and younger age. At times I have felt like an outcast from my peers, but I have come to value the independence instilled from watching my parents destroy themselves and the ones they should care most about through drug abuse. I can honestly say drugs will never come into my life.