This is a teen-written article from our friends at Represent Magazine, a platform for and by young people in foster care. Some details from this young woman's story have been changed.
Imagine if you didn’t have control over your body. You would be like a puppet guided by strings. Other people could take advantage of you and mislead you. You could end up doing and saying things that you would never in a million years do or say.
Unfortunately getting too drunk or high on drugs can make you lose control. I learned this the hard way last year when I went through a life-changing experience.
My best friend Nicky and I did everything together, usually going to the mall and movies. We told each other everything. She had a boyfriend named Jacob; he was very nice, with an outstanding personality. The two of them together always made me laugh. I was also close with my foster sister Kim.
My life-changing day was on Nicky’s boyfriend Jacob’s birthday. We decided to celebrate by going to the creek in the park. Kim and I met up with Nicky, and headed to the park to meet up with Jacob and his boy Tyler. We had a long walk ahead of us.
Then, this man drove up to us in a gold Cadillac and asked us if we wanted a ride. Now usually we would have said no, but it was hot and we had a long way till the creek. So we asked him to drop us off at the creek. He said OK. I had second thoughts on it but I was so hot.
We all got in and Nicky got in the front. I looked around the car for anything suspicious. I didn’t see anything out of the ordinary, just some old magazines and bottles. The man gave us a speech the whole ride there about how we should not take rides from strangers and how we were lucky he was a nice, respectful guy.
Luckily he took us where we wanted to go. He gave Nicky his number and told her to call him if any of us ever needed anything. We got out the car and started walking down the creek.
Old Enough to Kick It
As we were walking Nicky pulled out a bottle of brandy. She said it was for Jacobs’s birthday, but we could have some before we got to the park. All three of us drank two big sips before she put it back in her purse.
I had drunk alcohol before, but not a lot. The other times I was just following the crowd to be cool. I’d always been in enough control of my body to know what I was doing. This time, I wasn’t planning on getting too drunk, just enough to feel good. After I drank the two sips I almost threw up because of the nasty poison taste, but I held it down because I didn’t want to seem weak. I just made an ugly face.
We arrived at the park and found Jacob and Tyler. We all sat at the table and passed the bottle around. The boys were saying to me, “Come on, that’s all you can drink? Down that sh-t!” The boys are a couple of years older than me, and Kim and Nicky are both a year older than me. I didn’t want them to think I was too young to kick it. So when the boys peer-pressured me, I drank more to impress them, and that’s all I remember.
The rest of the story is what I’ve been told by Nicky, Kim, and Jacob.
I started snatching the bottle and drank half of it down. I had a full conversation with myself about yellow flowers for a long time. Then I dropped to the ground as if I were being possessed. Then I got up and put my head down on the table.
Nobody else was as drunk as I was. I threw up everywhere, and my nose started bleeding uncontrollably. I was in no condition to walk, but I guess I thought I was walking just fine because I kept getting up and falling down over and over again. The rest of them thought it would wear off soon.
A Scary Game
Little kids were passing by asking if I was OK. Nicky told them that I was just playing a scary game. Then I passed out, but my body kept jerking. Nicky, Kim, Jacob, and Tyler got scared. Jacob and Tyler left us at the park by ourselves because the police kept passing by and they didn’t want to get caught up. Nicky and Kim had no idea what to do. They didn’t call the ambulance because they didn’t want to get in trouble, either.
Nicky called the guy from earlier who gave us a ride to the creek. He drove to the park and yelled at Nicky and Kim for drinking and called them hella dumb. He picked me up and put me over his shoulder, then laid me in the back seat with Nicky and Kim.
He blasted the music to see if I’d wake up but I didn’t budge. He took us to his apartment. There were five other girls there. Two of the girls were his sisters and the rest were just friends. They said they hung out over there every day.
They put me on a table. Everyone yelled at me to wake up and slapped me hard to see if I’d feel it. Still no movement. They poured garlic and vinegar in my nose and mustard down my mouth. These people tried everything. They all were getting really scared that I wasn’t going to wake up.
Nicky and Kim were crying. They continued to talk to me, and I could only respond to Nicky’s voice. I would say, “hmmm.” Since I could respond a little bit but I still wouldn’t wake up they decided to lay me in the bathtub. They turned the shower on me—first ice cold, then burning hot. My body started to jerk but I still wouldn’t wake up. They were relieved that I could feel and move a little.
They took my clothes off to see if my body would react differently to the water but it didn’t. The girls didn’t want me in the house anymore because they didn’t want me to die there. So Kim called the ambulance. While Kim was on the phone, the man drove me to the corner store to wait for the ambulance there because the other girls didn’t want to be involved. Kim called my foster mom too.
At the hospital, they hooked me up to machines. The doctors told Kim that I got there just in time and that my alcohol level was one point away from death. I had the highest level of alcohol poisoning.
I woke up to my older foster sister Ashley’s voice saying, “You’re going to be grounded for life hahaha!” I slowly woke up and looked around. My stomach jerked and I threw up. I was confused. I couldn’t remember anything that happened, and I didn’t know why I was in the hospital.
The doctor came in to take out the IV and all the patches and cords that I was connected to. She told me I was very lucky to be alive and she also asked me why my clothes were wet. I told her I didn’t know because I couldn’t remember anything. The doctor told me I lost my memory of that day from the alcohol poisoning, but that I was good to go home.
I still felt confused because no one had told me what happened yet except that I had alcohol poisoning, and that I had to get my stomach pumped. I was wheeled out in a wheelchair to the car. When I got in the car I felt weak so I lay down. When I got home I was walking very slow. I felt dead tired, my body heavy. My sister Kim was so happy to see me.