I wasn’t alone when I started using drugs at age 13; it was with Andrea, who was like a sister to me — the one I chose and not the kind given by blood. My mom was a lesbian, and her girlfriend was my worst nightmare, so I left home. My mom was close friends with Andrea’s mom and let me move in with her. Andrea had just moved from Mexico, was a year older and had more life experiences than me. A lot of what I didn’t know about life, I learned with Andrea.
As soon as I went to live with them, I noticed how things were different from my mom’s way of life. Andrea’s mom was a stripper, and they always had money. That made a big change in my life. I no longer had to live in the poor ways I was used to. My life went from buying clothes at the thrift shop to buying clothes at Ross. I also learned to dress and behave differently. My mom did not teach me how to put on makeup or to dress femininely. At Andrea’s house, I was turned into a girly-girl because, of course, a stripper needs her beauty. So I started using all the accessories a women can use to look feminine.
I changed schools as well. My mom wasn’t happy about it, but she agreed because it made things easier for everybody. I was an introvert, though, and Andrea was an extrovert so I ended up just hanging with her friends. At that time, there were budget cuts [at school] and they didn’t really have the equipment for us to actually do any sports. So during P.E. we would meet at the far right of the field to smoke, chill and be stupid. Andrea’s friends were into drugs, so it was with them that I first began doing both cannabis and meth.
With a school filled with druggies and a neighborhood filled with them, too, I was out of luck. Doing drugs was how I made friends. Most of the time, the friends were older than me — the high school kids and older guys. They were the ones to share a cigarette with us, marijuana or meth.
The first time we were caught was just with a cigarette. We were outside in the middle of the night, and of course we smelled like cigarette smoke. I remember Andrea’s mom found us that night behind the apartments. She was mad about the cigarette, but we managed not to get grounded.
The next time I got busted, my mom caught me with a meth pipe in my backpack. I was visiting my mom for the weekend, and my mom’s girlfriend misplaced her ID. Naturally, I was blamed, so my mom went searching in my bag, finding the pipe but not her girlfriend’s ID. My mom was crushed, and I did not know what to say or do because Andrea was usually the mastermind who got us out of trouble.
My mom made me move back home and kept me away from Andrea. I managed not to get sent to rehab, but I had lost my mother’s trust and for a long time was kept under her watchful eye. I don’t think Andrea went to rehab, either. I recall her telling me that she had gotten in deep trouble because of me. She was mad at me for not being able to manage to hide it and get us out of the problem.
By then, my life had become a disaster. I failed all of my classes except for one, art class or advisory or something like that. I remember my mom telling me that my personality had changed and I just wasn’t the “sweet and innocent little girl” I used to be. And she was right.
I had changed. I had to move schools again when I moved back to live with my mom. I stopped using meth — abruptly, and without any help — because of my mom’s reaction. Seeing her crushed into a trillion pieces made me realize that I did not want to make her feel the way she did.
I didn’t stop drinking or smoking weed. I kept lying to her, pretending to be a so-called good girl so she would trust me enough to let me go out with friends and spend the night out.
My life improved but drugs would be something that would get me in trouble again and again in my life.
Sophia, 22, is an alumna of InsideOut Writers who recently finished an internship with ManifestWorks and started a CodeTalk program that teaches web development.