In thinking through my high school years, what immediately comes to mind is drugs & drinking. My freshman year was when I began drinking. I did it to fit in thinking that that’s what the cool kids did. I hung out with a lot of jocks that year and really wanted to be liked by the “popular” crowd which at my school were the jocks and cheerleaders (typical). I remember always wanting to out drink people. I saw it as a way to show off and gain respect. Fitting in was so very important to me. So, I tried my best to wear the clothes that my friends were wearing. This meant wearing preppy clothes like Polo & Izod. It’s sad how a little emblem like a polo rider or alligator could command such power.

It was the beginning of my sophomore year that I first smoked weed. I remember the night very clearly. It was at the public library of all places. I went to the park outside the library and saw two “burnouts” hanging out from my school. They asked me if I had a pipe which I told them no. We ending up talking for a bit while they proceeded to roll a joint. They passed it to me and I took a few puffs and went back in to the library. I don’t remember if I got high or not, but I do remember the next day when they came up to me in school and said that they couldn’t believe I actually got high with them. I loved the attention they gave me and the admiration. Little did they know that it was my first time. From that day forward I slowly began to hangout more with the drug crowd than the jock crowd.

Drugs gave me an escape from all the politics of high school cliques, not to mention it helped numb the many pains of my childhood. It’s funny, the people who did drugs didn’t care about how I dressed or what classes I was in or what sports I played. They only thing they cared about was if I did drugs: drugs = cool (and how I wanted to be cool). To no surprise my grades dropped, I went from being a straight A student in accelerated classes to a C and D student who skipped class. I eventually got suspended from school. After about 8 months of this my parents decided to put me into two drug rehab programs where I spent the last month of sophomore year and my summer vacation. The first drug rehab was a voluntary facility in which I ran away from after a month or so which then earned me a place at an involuntary facility for a couple more months. Neither place helped: I “faked it until I made it” out. In being discharged I went to a new school and had to make new friends. I felt very alone. During this time, I found loud, angry punk rock music which resonated with all the anger that was trapped within my heart. I eventually joined a punk rock band called Social Outcast.