Amanda Randolph says she was just 15 when she "met" a 44-year-old man in an online chat room.
Amanda was looking for someone to talk to. She was lonely. All the attention at home was focused on her older sister, who was pregnant with twins.
"I was telling him that basically my home life sucked because of my older sister. I didn't feel like anyone noticed me at home," she says. The man, whose name is withheld for privacy, seemed genuinely interested in her. He gave her all the attention she wasn't...
You already know that it's illegal if you're underage. But alcohol is often part of parties -- and some teens drink so much that they put their lives at risk.
"I've seen people come in barely breathing, they can't remember what happened the night before, they've thrown up, fell over, or peed on themselves, and ended up in the hospital with a plastic tube in their nose. There's nothing sexy or attractive about that," says Yale University ER doctor Darria Gillespie, MD, MBA.
And the earlier you start using alcohol or other drugs, the more likely you'll be addicted later on, Gillespie says.
What to do: Stay calm and say no. Pretty soon, people will forget about whether or not you're drinking. Bring your own cup to the party, filled with fruit punch and covered with a lid. That way you can say, "Thanks, I've got one," and change the subject, says Amee Nash, LPC, a counselor and community educator who has worked with teens and addiction for more than 10 years.
Or blame your parents, Nash says. Try one of these lines:
"If I do, this is the last time you'll see me at a party."
"I'll lose my car if I get caught."
"I was just grounded, so I don't want to get in trouble again."
Be aware that it wouldn't be hard for someone to slip something into your drink, such as a date rape drug like Rohypnol or GHB. So stick to nonalcoholic drinks, pour the drink yourself, and don't leave it unattended.
"Whatever is going to help you stay safe, do it," Nash says.
2. You’re expected to play a risky game.
Apart from drinking games, there are some other dangerous party games you should absolutely never play.
"Skittling" or "Pill Parties." In this "game," people take random pills -- and that could kill them. "You can never gauge what effect you're going to have, or how little of a medication you have to take without the potential for dying," says Ryan Stanton, MD, medical director of the ER at the University of Kentucky Good Samaritan Hospital.
Strangulation game. Said to increase the euphoria of already being high or drunk, choking to cut off the brain's oxygen source even for a few seconds can cause permanent brain damage, Gillespie says. You could suffer memory problems, difficulty with language and recognizing things, or lose function of your leg or arm, she warns. And if your brain stem is damaged, you could die or suffer brain death.
What to do: Don't play. If you're pressured to join in, leave. The stakes are too high.