One Response to “CdMHS Marks Red Ribbon Week”
October 28th, 2012
Another point made, alcohol is the gate way drug. Kids grow up with it in the house. their parents parties, cabinets etc.
About 700 Corona del Mar High School students gathered Thursday morning in the school’s gym, listening to harrowing tales of drug abuse, violence, homelessness and redemption as part of Red Ribbon Week.
The Thursday assembly featured two teenagers currently living and receiving counseling in the Phoenix House in Santa Ana.
“I started to drink alcohol when I was 8 years old,” said Jackie, 17, whose last name is being withheld to protect her privacy. “My mom would give it to me to get me to sleep so she could go out to party.”
Regularly beaten by her family, Jackie described a brutal childhood that included her first arrest for felony theft and robbery at age 11. About the same time, her sister would give her marijuana to smoke and tell her to steal and lie to coverup her own drug use.
By 13, Jackie said, she was homeless and smoking methamphetamine. Her health declined. She tried to kill her dad and considered suicide.
“I felt like nobody wanted me,” she said. “I wasn’t wanted — why would I want myself? I didn’t care.”
Jackie described stealing, beating people up, doing home invasion robberies, selling drugs — anything to support her addiction
“When you’re using, you lose all your goals and all your morals,” she said. “Nothing matters to you any more. The only thing that matters is getting that drug. I’ve been robbed, I’ve been jumped, I’ve been stabbed…I’ve done some pretty crazy (stuff.)”
She was raped, she said, which plummeted her into a state of depression.
“I started to hate,” she said. “I was this little evil girl, this little evil homeless girl.”
Her plan was to overdose and die. Instead, on Nov. 2, 2011, she tried to kill her mother.
“I don’t remember doing it,” she said. “But something tells me I did it.”
She was taken into custody in San Diego and eventually moved into Phoenix House, where she is attending 12-step meetings and going to school.
Eventually, she said, she plans to move in with an aunt, go to college and get a job. She has been sober since last November, she said.
She urged the students to appreciate the little things in life.
“It’s really amazing what you have,” she said. “There are so many little things in life you have to be grateful for.”
Another Phoenix House resident, Rudy, 16, described using drugs and and getting involved with gangs in sixth grade. He had no father figure or other support system, he said.
“The didn’t give me any useful information,” he said. “They just gave me a lighter and a pipe.”
He described living in filth with stained carpets, broken glass and Q-tips littering the floor of homes where he stayed.
“If you try to clean it for them, they get mad because they think you’re trying to steal their stuff,” he said.
He continued to use, was arrested eight times, he said. Then he overdosed.
“I don’t even remember it,” he said. “A light flashing, people tackling me, waking up in a bed with something over my face, screaming for no reason…I looked like my soul had died or something.”
He agreed to go to Phoenix House in July and has been clean four months, he said.
Students asked about whether the teens were in touch with their family members; Rudy said yes, and Jackie said only with her aunt. They asked about a typical day — meetings, school work, counseling, family outings, sports — and future plans. (Jackie plans to pursue a college education, and Rudy wants to become a U.S. Marine.)
The assembly was part of several events held this week to mark Red Ribbon Week, school officials said.
School Resource Police Officer Vlad Anderson met with students Tuesday to describe what actually happens when you get a DUI and how a record can affect college admissions, and the documentary “Overtaken” will be screened today. The movie, school officials said in an email, “gives accurate and up-to-date information on the type of drugs infiltrating our communities” and ways students can avoid them.
Earlier in the week, MADD displayed a mangled car that had been in a DUI crash in front of the school. Student-made signs are posted throughout the campus, giving statistics on DUI deaths and the dangers of cigarettes, and the school’s Sea King mascot’s crown has been decorated with red ribbons in the quad.
On Friday, students will wear red and will sign a banner to pledge to be drug and alcohol free, said counselor Allison Hatcher.
CdMHS senior Emelie Frojen said students were paying attention to the messages.
“People are talking about it,” she said. “It seems to move kids a lot. It’s effective.”
Principal Tim Bryan said that anti-drug and alcohol awareness programs work best when adults use different means of delivering messages.
“The message is always the same,” he said. “A single assembly is never going to change someone’s behavior. But the followup on campus, the efforts of parents, the efforts of the community, can foster change. You never know which presenter is going to reach the students.”