My name is Dana Kippel. I was raised in a upper middle class family in Suffern, NY. It was a medium sized community, mostly affluent people, but a mix overall. Most of the town was in denial about the serious drug problem we had and most parents thought “my kid doesn’t do drugs”. Most of them were wrong.
When I got into high school I immediately was introduced to underage drinking at school hockey games and at parties of kids whose parents didn’t pay enough attention or were away a lot. At first I was able to maintain good grades, but my drinking spiraled out of control at the early age of 14. I lost friends trust, I was bullied for the way I would act and my behaviors while drinking, and I felt I had no one to talk to.
I soon got into cocaine at age 15, the girls a grade younger than me were doing it, as well as my boyfriend, and once I tried it I was hooked. By age 17 , my senior year, I was barely going to school, had a couple incidents where I felt I was taken advance of by men older than me, and the bullying was worse than ever. I developed anxiety, and my relationship was falling apart due to my drug use it became toxic. I was put in a psych ward at age 16 because I went into a cocaine induced psychosis, which didn’t help my image at school either. People would make fun of me for my last name, call me names in the hallways, boo me in the halls, and worst of all create fake stories about me and spread them around. It was all too much to take. Instead of doing the logical thing and stopping using , I continued to use more and more.
I was put in an IOP program after my psych ward visit, when they discovered I wasn’t crazy, I had a drug and alcohol problem. I was told to goto AA meetings, and being 17 I had a really hard time staying sober when all my friends were out partying including my boyfriend. I was depressed and thought why me, why am I like this. I focused on all the wrong things. I couldn’t stop using , and eventually I had an intervention and got put in rehab my senior year where I ended up graduating high school inside the rehab.
I was there four months, and soon after when I left I started using again. I went back to the same relationship , same friends and I wanted so bad to just be normal. Things got worse and worse for me, I’ll spare you all the details, but I went back to rehab at age 22 and got sober soon after at age 23.
I’m writing this to the addict who is still young and isn’t sure they want to be sober or feels they are missing out. Trust me don’t go back out. Stay sober. I went through terrible things no one should go through after I relapsed at age 17. I never got to walk at graduation, goto college , and experience my teens and early twenties sober. I lost the most important people to me because of my addiction. I lost my high school experience, I never even got to enjoy prom, I just partied after. I never enjoyed my early twenties getting to know myself, I was a shell of a person. I completely severed my relationship with my parents and I will always regret the pain I put them through. I was an amazing cheerleader and gymnast and I lost any chance at continuing in that. I am happy where I am in my life now but that’s because I have 5 years sober and have worked my butt off. I could be so much further if I got sober when I had the chance at 17!
For the parents out there, that think it’s just a phase. Don’t assume that, your child may have an addiction issue. Ask questions , see how their being treated in school. Be involved. Don’t be the cool parent. If you notice signs don’t feel shame and don’t turn a blind eye to it. Ask the teachers how they are doing, find out who their friends are and if they are safe influences. Don’t hover, but be smart. My parents tried but they were also in extreme denial. Make sure your child feels supportive, make sure they are going to school. Dont give in to them, or cut them slack. Be their parent not their best friend. Help them figure their life out and gain life skills. Make them do chores, don’t let them stay out til 3am. If you think they need help get them help ASAP don’t procrastinate. Sobriety is a wonderful gift and I am so happy I eventually got it. If you are young do it now, I promise you won’t miss out on anything! Surround yourself with positive people! I hope something I said helps somebody out there!