By Sarah Davis, Hurricane High School
As a high school senior ready to graduate, I have found many reasons to live a successful, drug-free life.
Living a sober-minded life is not always easy, or the popular choice, but it is a wise decision to make.
According to the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics, teenaged drug use in West Virginia is evident. In West Virginia, 12- to 17-year-olds are 5.43% more likely to abuse a drug than an average American teenager. They are also 4.7% more likely to abuse alcohol than an average American teenager. These statistics are startling to hear and difficult to swallow. However, what about those who choose a drug-free life? How does one go about living a sober-minded life?
I have the pleasure of sharing with you eight reasons why I choose to live my life drug free. Eight reasons that are simple yet carry an important weight.
1. I want to be the best person I can be.
Living a drug-free life allows me to be the best version of myself. With a clean system, I do not have to worry about how a drug may affect my personality and how I treat myself and others. When working on myself, drugs aren’t part of the equation, so that leaves me with one less thing to stress over in my already stressful life.
2. I want to be healthy in all aspects.
There is no debate when it comes to how drugs negatively affect your physical and mental health. Not only are most substances mind-altering, but they can destroy your organs and cause a wide variety of health problems. I chose to maintain a healthy lifestyle for my body, mind and soul. The abuse of drugs, legal or illegal, can deter your body and brain from working properly. When trying to maintain my health, drugs do not play a factor, which allows me to feel secure in my health, both physically and mentally.
3. I want to make smart financial decisions.
Drugs are incredibly expensive. Although there are many other pressing reasons to remain drug-free, this one is just practical. Drugs are an easy way to throw away your money. According to the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics, the opioid epidemic cost the United States nearly $272 billion in 2017. With college coming up, I would much rather save my money for tuition, books and gasoline since I will be commuting to college. When I sit down to sort out my monthly budget, I do not have to leave a portion of my money aside for drugs.
4. I want to stay out of legal trouble.
The best way to stay out of jail is to not engage in criminal activity. Yes, that’s obvious, but it’s very applicable to our everyday lives. When you live a life free of drugs, you will not have to worry about going to jail for drug possession. Getting into legal trouble can follow you for the rest of your life, including into your career and family situation. I do not have to worry about getting caught when there is nothing to catch.
5. I want to set an example for others.
If you are like me, you have many people in your life who look up to you. Whether it is a friend, classmate, neighbor or family member, you mean a great deal to them. It is important to me that these people have a good example to follow. By living a sober-minded life, I can show my friend, classmate, neighbor or family member that it is important to remain drug free. Hopefully, they will choose to follow my example and live their lives free of drugs.
6. I want to maintain stable relationships.
Relationships are the backbone in many aspects of life. It is likely that the relationships you hold are some of the most influential elements of your story. What if I told you that drugs have the potential to negatively impact your relationships. The usage of drugs can, and most likely will, create tension in your relationships with others, even the relationships that you have held for years upon years. Living a drug free life allows me to have and maintain strong, stable relationships with the people I love.
7. I want to follow my dreams and achieve my goals.
I have a long list of aspirations for my future. Some are small, such as writing a book and eating healthily. Some are bigger goals, like getting married, graduating college and working as a journalist for the National Broadcasting Company. Big and small, I will have to work hard to accomplish these things. If I was engaged in consuming drugs, I could become easily distracted on achieving my goals, or even lose my passion to follow my dreams. Yes, recovering addicts can accomplish great things, but accomplishing those great things is much easier when you are living a sober-minded life.
8. I want to stay safe.
Not only are drugs unsafe for your immediate health, but they can also lead to dangerous situations and circumstances. You are statistically more likely to be a victim of crime if you consume drugs or hang around others who do so. Many murders, robberies, and abductions involve the use of drugs. For my own safety, I choose to remain drug free. Yes, I can still be a victim of crime, but I am statistically less likely to be.
There is no doubt that the easiest way to live a drug free life is to stay away from situations that involve drugs. Instead of just “saying no” to drugs, I have concrete reasons to back up my lifestyle. Drugs can destroy your life, including your personality, health, financial status, public record, relationships, safety and your future. The next instance you are faced with a situation that puts you at a crossroads, choose the drug free option, the safest option and the smartest option.
This piece was written for FlipSide, the Charleston Gazette-Mail’s teen publication. You can read more stories written by teens for teens atwvflipside.com.