Steering teens away from drugs by sharing personal stories of addiction

Peer pressure: we’ve all experienced it, and it’s usually a negative thing. But one group is using it in a positive way to keep your kids off drugs.

The principal at McCracken County High School says the school doesn’t have a drug problem, but he’s aware some students do use drugs and drink alcohol.

In 2014, students at McCracken County Schools and Paducah Independent Schools filled out a Kentucky Incentives for Prevention survey about drug and alcohol use.

In that survey, 20 percent of 12th-graders said they were 15 or 16 years old when they first tried marijuana; and 22 percent of 12th graders said they’ve blacked out while drinking alcohol or using drugs.

One local man says he knows how quickly use can turn into abuse, which is why he’s sharing his very real story with some high school students.

Max Grantham was in the eighth grade when he smoked marijuana for the first time, a single decision that would alter the rest of his life.

"My life was centered around drugs," says Grantham.

He was a slave to his addiction.

"It steals everything you hold dear, and it did for me," says Grantham.

Grantham was eventually put in prison on charges related to his methamphetamine use. Locked up for nearly three years, he got out ready to turn his life around. That’s when he joined CenterPoint Recovery Center For Men.

Now, Grantham and other recovering addicts are sharing their stories with students, helping them understand that the choices they make now will impact the rest of their lives.

Emily Pace is a ninth-grader at McCracken County High School. She says the stories made more of an impact on her than just hearing a teacher ramble on about why drinking and drugs are bad.

"It made me realize what is really right and what is wrong and how doing drugs and alcohol really won’t help you have a life when you get older," says Pace.

Grantham says he can’t stop these teens from drinking or using but, by sharing his story, he can help them notice the warning signs, which include using drugs or alcohol while you’re alone or if your addiction starts replacing the things you enjoy, like an after school sport or activity.

If you think your child may have a problem, contact your child’s school counselor.

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