DR. WALLACE: I'd like to respond to the 18-year-old guy who convinced his girlfriend that even though he was snorting cocaine he could control how often he used it and would never become addicted to the stuff. He probably believes that, but his girlfriend shouldn't. In many cases, an addict is the last person to see the problem. Most addicts think they can control their drug use.
I know what I'm talking about because I am a recovering cocaine addict who has been clean for two years. I was introduced to the "wonders of cocaine" when I was a first-year student at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Until that time, I had never been involved in drugs of any kind, including marijuana.
At first, I thought I could control when and how much cocaine I used. When I told this to my roommate, all he could do was laugh. He was the guy who showed me how to snort coke, and he was addicted. Soon, I had a new roommate because he stopped attending classes. My world collapsed when he split the scene. He was the source of my coke and didn't charge me anything. I was, in fact, using coke every other day, though I hardly realized it.
After he left, I had to find another supplier to feed my habit. It was hard to do, but I had to pay for it — and it wasn't cheap. At first, I started borrowing money from my parents, but after a while, they became suspicious and stopped their flow of cash.
I had been a very good student, but I dropped out of the University of Michigan midway through my second semester because of poor grades. Sadly, I still had the cocaine problem. To "earn" a fast buck, I turned to armed robbery. I bought a cheap handgun and started robbing liquor stores and small convenience stores. My fourth robbery was my last one. I was identified even though I was wearing a disguise. A hidden camera caught my face before I put on my ski mask.
Getting caught actually turned out to be a blessing. I was sentenced to 221 months behind bars, but because of good behavior and an overcrowded facility, I was released after 14 months. I now have my life in good order. I'm back at school and plan to graduate, marry and be a productive husband, father and citizen.
I can't live out my dream and become a lawyer because of my prison time, but I will find another profession that will accept me for what I will do, not what I've already done. Some nights I fall asleep thinking about what my life would have been like if I had never taken that first snort. — Anonymous, via email
ANONYMOUS: Thanks for sharing the story of your difficult times with our teen readers. I'm sure your horror story will influence many of them. Experience is a superb teacher, but some experiences — with drug addiction near the top of the list — should be avoided at all costs. Those who have paid the price are best able to sound the warning.
I GET NO CHARGE
DR. WALLACE: I'm 16 and have been dating a guy for two months. We met at a mutual friend's birthday party. He is sort of cute, very respectful and has a great sense of humor. We have a good time together and a lot of laughs when we go out. We also have a lot in common, namely, politics and women's rights.
My concern is that he doesn't seem to turn me on romantically. I get no immediate "charge" when he kisses me. Sometimes, I wonder why I even allow him to get close to me. What should I do: stop seeing him so he can find someone else who will appreciate him, or continue seeing him until someone better comes along for me? — Anonymous, Chicago
ANONYMOUS: It isn't necessary to fall in love with every guy you go out with right away. It's possible to have an enjoyable time on a date and not have it result in serious romance. Continue dating this guy until you either grow closer together (It happens!) or you do grow apart. At the very least, it sounds like you've found yourself a great friend.
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.