July 17, 2012

A 28 year old Black, female reported to my office with her 9 year old nephew. Curious as to how and why she was on Probation I asked how she came upon her Proposition 36 situation. She stated that she was caught using various drugs. Again, I asked why would you be using drugs in the first place. Her response was, “because I wanted to.” I said, ” I understand that, why did you want to?” She answered again by saying, “because it made me feel better.” I responded by saying, “better than what?” I could tell at this point that she was getting frustrated by my continued questioning. So, I explained to her that my reasoning for delving into her life was to discover the “why” of her drug use so she could stop. So, I asked her to tell me when she began using drugs. She stated that she started when she was a teenager. What was going on during your teenage years that influenced your drug use. She stated that she had to attend church 3 to 4 times a week, she wasn’t allowed to have friends, she wasn’t allowed to explore her world of a teenager. I asked her if she would describe her parents as “running a strict household?” Her face lit up and she stated, “yes, her parents were very strict.” So, could your drug use be attributed to your need for choice, freedom, individuality. “Yes,” she said. She stated that she never got to do anything different and felt as if she were trapped in her own house. She mentioned that throughout her teenage years she continued to rebel against the rules of the house which is why she didn’t complete her high school education. It was after she left the house that the drug use became more prevalent because she was not used not having any rules to follow and she did what most people due in her situation. She took advantage of the freedom she never had as a child. So, from the age of 18 to 28 her life began to spiral out of control. She was in and out of jail for various crimes and going nowhere fast.

Today, she lives with her mother. She is back where she started as a child. During our conversation, she did get a better understanding and awareness as to why she behaved in the manner she did. In other words, how she got her need for choice, self-expression, respect self empowerment met by using narcotics and participating in anti-social behavior. She stated that all she ever wanted was for her parents to listen to what she had to say, offer some bonding and comfort and some understanding. Now that she has an understanding she can now make the necessary adjustments regarding her what she wants to do with her life, such as, complete her high school education.

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