‘Just a drink’? Maybe — but maybe not
DR. WALLACE: I was struck by the attitude of a 16year-old girl who drank at a party to celebrate a good friend’s graduation. She didn’t see anything wrong with having a few glasses of wine.
I am now a juvenile court judge (after being a criminal court judge for nearly eight years) and would like to share my story.
Growing up in the Mississippi Delta, I was an early member of the Bachelor’s Club. My duty was to escort the debutantes. My father gave me my first drink when I was 14 because we were expected to know how to handle our liquor. From then on, I was a sporadic — but heavy — drinker. I enjoyed getting high and thought I was cool. All this continued through high school, college and law school.
After marriage and graduation, I returned to my hometown, where my drinking pattern continued. Once or twice a month I would get “bombed.” This pattern continued through three marriages. After my parents died, I decided there was no one left to tell me what to do and I began drinking daily for several years, until I was faced with the loss of nearly everything dear to me.
I asked a friend to help and went into the hospital to dry out. I haven’t had a drink since, and I hope I never do. However, I still take things one day at a time and attend Alcoholics Anonymous.
Recently, a study was published that showed that the earlier one begins to drink, the greater his or her chance is of becoming an alcoholic, especially if one starts under the age of 21; at age 15, there’s an approximately onein-four chance.
In my work I repeatedly see the damage alcohol does to parents, kids and families, and have tried to warn my children and others of the danger. Dr. Wallace, please keep hammering that message home — kids do read and listen to you.
Strangely enough, as a senior in high school, I won a $500 scholarship for an essay on “The Effects of Alcohol on Man.” — Judge, in Florida.
JUDGE: It’s very important for teens to learn from the experiences of others, especially from a juvenile court judge. Thanks for sharing your story with our young readers. It will influence many teens.
Enjoy your freedom
DR. WALLACE: My boyfriend and I broke up after going steady for over seven months because we were constantly fighting and arguing. In fact, the past four months were one long fight. Last weekend we ended our relationship. He went fishing with his friends and I spent time with my friends. When he got back, he called and said he was a changed guy and wanted to get together again. I still like him, but I also like being unattached and free to do whatever I want. What should I do? — Nameless, Lake Charles, La.
NAMELESS: I doubt if a short fishing trip could have turned this fellow into a “changed guy.” Enjoy your freedom and don’t let him pressure you into recommitting. Tell him you want more time to think about things. If you start seeing him again, go slowly.