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Sixteen-Year-Old Got Drunk with Friends
Q: I am 16 years old and I went out with my friends to just have fun. Later on in the night we all decided to start drinking. Well, this went on and we knew that this was a bad situation so we called our parents to come get us. When we called them we were still really drunk. I was falling down all the time. I was the worst one out of all of them. My friend's parents had to walk me into my house. This wasn't the first time this happened, it's the second. The first time I promised I would never do it again but I went and did it. What should I do? I feel so bad. I know my parents love me and they forgive me but there is always that wackiness between us. Will my friends parents forgive me?
PS. I know that I am never going to do this again and I am going to join a non-drinking club in my school.
A: If you can really learn from this experience, you will be a much wiser, healthier and more self-respecting young man. I am sure you think that your parents don't have a good reason to believe that you won't get drunk again since your word right now does not mean much. You are not the first teenager to truly believe a promise he made to his parents and then go ahead and break it. On the very positive side, you and your friends were smart enough to call someone's parents to pick you all up. You did not risk your lives or anyone else's by driving drunk. For this all your parents are breathing a sigh of relief but they are also frightened to death that you might have tried to drive while drunk.
Your friend's parents might have a tough time, wanting their kids to go out with you again, especially if they believe you to be the key figure in getting everyone drunk. Given your recent track record in the "getting really drunk department," I'd say that you have your work cut out for you in earning back the trust and respect of your parents and your friends' parents. You also have your own self-respect to redeem.
You need to be more than a little scared that you and alcohol don't mix well together. In fact, I'd say that you need to stop drinking and get really clear-headed about the person you want to be. I would ask to speak to each of your friends' parents so that you can personally apologize to them and show genuine remorse for your irresponsible actions. You might also share with them how you plan on turning this behavior around.
Fortunately, neither you nor anyone else was injured or had to check into an emergency ward with alcohol poisoning. You have established a very unhealthy habit of drinking until drunk, let alone running the risk of being arrested for underage drinking. You might want to see a therapist for a few times so that you can get some understanding, support and advice on how best to turn this part of your life around.
Don't lose track of all your other good parts. These mistakes are not who you are but they are warnings that you have to act on. You are blessed with parents who will grant you their forgiveness and yet another chance for redemption. Embrace that chance and their belief in you. Understand what the circumstances, attitudes and reasons were that brought you to these poor decisions. Putting yourself in the same situations in the future and expecting that you will not drink is an unrealistic and dangerous assumption. Don't test yourself by doing something like this again. Rely on your judgment and don't put yourself in the same place, physically or mentally.
I believe that you have the courage and the character to take the high road. Thanks for writing.
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Carleton Kendrick has been in private practice as a family therapist and has worked as a consultant for more than 20 years. He has conducted parenting seminars on topics ranging from how to discipline toddlers to how to stay connected with teenagers. Kendrick has appeared as an expert on national broadcast media such as CBS, Fox Television Network, Cable News Network, CNBC, PBS, and National Public Radio. In addition, he's been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, USA Today, Reader's Digest, BusinessWeek, Good Housekeeping, Woman's Day, and many other publications.