Saturday, February 19, 2011


Dear Readers: I am proud to share these essays from local students at our schools. The Alano Club ran an essay contest asking kids why they want to live drug free. Xander Gangemi was the second place winner and received $150. The club currently is working on programs to keep teenagers busy in San Pedro and away from addictions. As these programs evolve, I will keep you posted. -- Diana

By Xander Gangemi

My name is Xander Gangemi and I have seen dozens of lives get destroyed, maimed, and cut short. I have seen friends, family and those I love fall and collapse under the weight of drugs and alcohol. I choose to live free of the bonds of addictions because I know how it would affect those around me. Susceptibility to drugs and alcohol runs in my blood. Many of those before me in my family were (and still are) heavy drinkers or drug addicts. However, I know that I have the strength to avoid the temptation of these vices. I have a responsibility to myself to be strong and not drag myself down with drugs. I have a responsibility to my family to not waste the life that they gave me and to grow ever stronger. I have a responsibility to my friends and those around me to be a picture of endurance, self reliance and to be able to be there for them when they need me.
I am no saint though. No one really is. All we can do is try our best and give our all. I know that I couldn't do that if I were on drugs or drinking. If you're doing those things, you're not yourself and you say things and do things that you just can't take back. You never just hurt yourself when you're on drugs. It always affects people around you, even if you can't tell or they don't tell you. I think: that it's not worth it, being on drugs, because you lose too much in the process. You lose who you are, piece by piece.
When I grow into the man I know that I will be, I want to be able have a stable job and I want to be dependable and responsible. I want to be able to support a family and be with that family ... If I started drugs, or drinking, reaching goals like these would be so much harder. The brief relief that you get from these things is honestly, truly not worth it in the long run. Doing drugs can stop your dreams from becoming reality, and I won't allow that to happen in my life.
People close to me, have been in horrible, dark places with drugs. They were violent, emotionally unstable, hurtful and not themselves. It hurts to be the recipient of these actions by people under the influence. Drugs and alcohol change how you see things and sometimes, how you act. I love the people around me, and I enjoy and earned the respect I get from them for being strong. I would lose all of that if I were to be on drugs.
I choose to live drug free, because living drug free is to be free. You're free to be yourself, be strong for family and friends and free to go off and accomplish your goals and dreams. I don't believe that drugs are worth the pain, anger, drama and depression that they bring. I need to be myself and I need to be strong and respectable. That’s why I choose to live drug free.