When young people embrace the use of drugs/alcohol for whatever reason they lose a part of themselves. Looking back on my daughters early drug years I remember clearly the changes in her. The defensive attitude, the deepening resentment she had about who she was, the rebellion against authority - she believed she found her independence when in truth she was becoming more dependent than ever. Teens will argue that they know exactly what they are doing and that they are in control of every situation. The more substance abuse - the more defiant they become. Why? Because the drugs become their comfort, their friend, the only thing they believe makes them a better person. More desirable to others and themselves. Drugs allow them to "be who they are", to "feel good", to "laugh", to "speak their minds"... drugs... yes drugs give them all this courage they might not have had before. False courage... but they don't see it that way at all.
In my small groups the majority of teens really believe the lie of independence they speak so openly about. It matters not to them that they are in trouble with the law. Why should it? It will be wiped away when they are adults, this is their time to do as they please with little consequence. Drugs feel good... the law - it doesn't apply to them and "laws are meant to be broken - right"? When I hear how casually they take their life situation it breaks my heart. But my daughter was the same way, in her case it was all about killing the pain. Why deal with life when you can erase it for a while.
How I wish I could go back and this time utilize all that I have learned since her death. Parents, hear me when I say this... learn from others around you, if not from me... then someone else who has been there and back. Boundaries, rules, consequences... important, important, important... ask for help if you need it. Teach them to love who they are... show them what is special about them!! Check yourself, your reactions - what foundation are you setting in place for your children?