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Drug Use Rises Among Teen-age Girls

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RALEIGH — Illegal drugs have devastated many American families, and the problem has never been worse among teenage girls.

"It began with experimenting. I was curious," says 18-year-old Julie, who is finally clean and sober for the first time in five years.

Julie began using alcohol at the age of 13. Two years later, she started smoking marijuana, then added cocaine and Ecstasy. By the time Julie was 17, she was using drugs or alcohol every day.

"It was definitely getting out of control. And I even felt like I wanted to die at one point," she says.

Julie says she was not alone. She used drugs with friends, many of them young girls like herself.

Julie's counselor says it does not surprise him that drug use among adolescent girls is on the rise.

He says girls use drugs to relieve stress and increase self-esteem. And he says the drugs are not tough to get.

"Girls can get drugs easily with guys because guys will be glad to have them there and will pay for their drug use," says Rob Young.

Young advises parents to be involved in their children's lives, to look forwarning signsand to set behavior limits. He also cautions that recovery from drug abuse can be a long road for the entire family.

In Julie's case, the breakthrough was what she calls a spiritual awakening. She sought treatment, and now takes life one day at a time.

"I get through each day with the help of my higher power," she says. "I hope that tomorrow I won't use, but today I know I won't."

Young says eight out of 10 adolescents in treatment at the center where he works are boys.