Dear Dr. Wallace:

I’m not writing for advice, but instead, I want to share my recent experience with my fellow teens.

I had always been a top student involved in many student activities. I was considered to be popular, and I have many good friends. I planned on attending the University of Minnesota, and my goal was to become an attorney. That won’t happen. This past school year, I was getting involved with anything that would get me high, especially alcohol and drugs. I never thought I would be writing to you as a drug user.

It all started when the guy I was dating convinced me to have a drink to make me forget that my parents had separated and were on the verge of getting a divorce. The alcohol helped but only for a short time. Soon, I was asking for another drink — then another and another. My parents were more interested in going their own way than keeping an eye on me. It didn’t take long before I was involved with both alcohol and marijuana. It was not long after that I also started experimenting with substances as well. My grades plummeted, and I dropped out of all student activities. I eventually dumped my boyfriend, but I continued getting high. I was shocked to find how easy it is to get drugs these days. Many times, it was available at parties for free or next to free.

The thing that bothers me deep down is that I enjoy drugs so much that I know I will continue using them, even if they wind up killing me. I have left my home and am living with an older female friend who is also into drugs. I won’t be attending school next fall, which would have been my senior year of high school.

In the beginning of my “wild” life, even though I enjoyed getting high, I was positive I could stop using whenever I decided I wanted to become drug-free. I was wrong! Even as I write this letter, I am totally aware that I could get help for my addiction, and occasionally, I think I might. But the powerful urge to get high takes over, and then it seems nothing else matters.

I have decided that drugs are more important to me than my old friends, the senior prom and a high school diploma. I know it’s sad, but it’s true.

My message to my fellow teens is to please learn from my story. Never get involved with any type of addictive substance, as it will rob you of your life and soul! Your life can be beautiful if you never ever take that first drug. One small moment of usage can lead to another and another. I sadly know from experience!

— Too Far Gone,

via email

Dear Too Far Gone: Thank you for sharing your story with teen readers. It will likely influence many of them not to follow in the footsteps that led you to your present lifestyle.

I am very troubled that your desire to get high overpowers your plans to attend college and reach your dreams of becoming an attorney. I’m not naive. I am aware of the powerful control drugs and alcohol can have over its victims.

But I also have witnessed many young addicts stop using and return to productive lives. It takes guts and the desire to be in control of your life, but you can do it! Trust me, at this point, you are definitely not “too far gone.” Please, seek counseling that is widely available and non-judgmental immediately. You need professional assistance now, before things become even worse than they currently are. Take the brave, wise first step of making contact with an organization that can truly help you right away.

Write to Dr. Wallace at rwallace@galesburg.net.