Real Life Stories

Erica, 13, was part of a group of girls who had gone through elementary school together. When they entered a new middle school, they hung out with new kids and organized parties in each other's homes. When parents were away they often raided their liquor cabinets. Erika had always been somewhat shy, and since she was eager to be seen as one of the group, felt that drinking helped her become less inhibited. "I'm more popular and I'm a looser dancer. People my age go with the group so they won't be left out," she said. By the time she was 15, Erica's teachers noted that at times she came to school obviously drunk.

Greg, 15, an excellent baseball player, experienced episodes of anxiety, particularly before a game. He tried cocaine at a party "just for fun, to see what it was like." His academic work declined, and he started to cut classes. Although he insisted that he used coke only once in a while "to pump me up and get the juices going," he turned to coke and other drugs often before a game or in other situations when he felt pressure to perform.