Like most teens, I am immersed in a culture that romanticizes drugs and alcohol. Throughout high school, many friends challenged my decision to abstain and encouraged me to experiment with drugs. I never wavered in my decision to say no. During fifth grade, I was tremendously impressed by a presentation by a local D.A.R.E officer (drug awareness and resistance education) in my community. He described the devastating effects of drugs on the human body and emphasized our choice to say no. I couldn't imagine that anyone could listen to his moving speech and still want to do drugs. During Driver's Education class, we watched videos that showed the deadly combination of drinking and driving. The graphically-depicted dangers reinforced my decision to remain abstinent.
The issue became personal to me during my freshman year in high school, when my cousin was critically injured in a drunk driving accident. Only three of the five passengers in the car survived, including the driver.
Although he survived, my cousin was hospitalized for months with a serious head injury and mangled leg. In just an instant, his life was permanently changed. My cousin still struggles with short-term memory loss and has a plate in his right leg holding his shattered bone together. I remember visiting him in the hospital and being afraid of what looked like an erector set protruding from his stomach. I was pained by the horrible damage caused by drunk driving.
Ironically, I also felt compassion for the terrible consequences facing the drunk driver. His conscience must forever carry the weight of two violent deaths and my cousin's serious injuries. The driver was held criminally liable for the accident, which will diminish his future opportunities. He will haunted forever by the permanent effects of one bad decision. After watching the ramifications for...