Thursday, October 06, 2011

Go Ask Alice

This is another book I remember first reading when I was about 13 (which would have been 1976!). It had a powerful impact on me at the time along with a book called "Tuned Out", which was also about drug abuse by teens. I think these were two of the first widely read books about the issue. Reading it again as an adult, I was affected again just as powerfully. It is definitely a book that has stood the test of time. When I read it the first time, I related well to what the family of this young girl was going through because both of my older sisters were using drugs (although not to the extent that the girl in the book was), and it was a scary time for our family.
Reading it this time several things struck me. One is that the diary was probably heavily edited, because young girls don't usually use things like semi-colons in their diaries. The second is that parents today are much more aware of the signs of drug abuse than they were back then and that children have a lot less freedom to just roam around unsupervised. I know my mother certainly didn't recognize some of the signs, and my sisters and I had more freedom at a younger age than my children have. Also, I noted that people with drug problems at that time were sent to mental hospitals, drug rehab centers only came later.
But how amazing it is to read 'Go Ask Alice' and realize that all the basic issues haven't changed. Teens still succumb to the allure of being considered "cool" by their peers. People experiment with drugs never dreaming of the possibility that they may get addicted. The cycle of drug use, then reform, then relapse, then reform, is just never-ending. Addiction is so tragic, and the waste of lives, young and old, is so heartbreaking. Not only individuals and their families, but all of society pays the price.

No comments: