DR. WALLACE: I'm 19 and a very fortunate guy. Since I was 15, I have been in trouble at home, in school and with the law. I did everything that was wrong or illegal. I was involved in alcohol and drugs, and I stole and robbed to get the money to support my habit.
Six months ago, I got busted for possession of cocaine. I spent time in jail, and, to get my release, I had to go to night school and attend church every week. I started attending a church near my house with the full intention of dumping it when I got off of probation. But I'm not going to dump it now. In the few months I've been attending this church, my life has turned for the better. These church members care about me as a human being, and now I don't have to get high when I want to forget my troubles. I just give them to the Almighty, and my troubles are eased dramatically. I am now in a place where I can deal with and confront the realities of my life in a sober, sensible way. In the past, I would seek to escape and forget my troubles by getting high. The problem with that was that once I came down from my high, my troubles had not gone away. In fact, they often became worse.
Please feel free to print my letter, if you choose to do so. I want to share my new life with those who read your column, especially others who may presently be struggling with addictions in a manner that I previously was. My goal going forward is to help as many others as I possibly can. — New Perspective, via email
NEW PERSPECTIVE: It certainly sounds like you are on the path to experiencing a great future because the new chapter of your life has given you hope and, quite importantly, a new support system to help you deal with the difficulties of life. Congratulations on turning your life around. I am rooting for you and proud to hear you are so focused on helping others going forward. May you succeed fabulously in this regard.
I CAN HANDLE PEER PRESSURE
DR. WALLACE: I'm a 16-year-old girl and I've been reading your column for more than three years now. Many times, I read about teens being influenced by friends to do things that are wrong because "everyone is doing it." Since I have a lot of girlfriends, my parents worry about peer pressure. I assure my mom and dad that, although I have many friends, I have my own mind and my own moral compass. Do you think my parents will learn to trust me to make good decisions? So far I have not done anything wrong socially with my friends, and I don't plan to. — In Control, via email
IN CONTROL: Your early returns are indeed worthy of trust, based upon your letter. However, one big (or even medium) mistake will send your parents a different message loud and clear.
Trust is something that must be earned and built upon on an ongoing basis. I'm very glad to hear you self-identify as "in control," and, for your sake, I hope you are able to maintain that status going forward.
As you grow older and find yourself in new social situations with your friends, remember to think things through carefully before taking action whenever that quiet little voice in the back of your mind gives you a warning. Please remember, peer pressure will grow as you get older. Congratulations on the excellent start you are off to in this area, and keep up the good work!
Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. Email him at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.