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Growing from boys to men
by Michael Mata
Not For Sale
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As we grow older, we will feel the need to belong. Be apart of something or someone. Itís natural. It is human nature and part of the growing process. But how you proceed it, is a different question altogether. Which group do you belong to and does it help you in you having a safe and productive life. Are the people in this group really your friends?

The Group:
There is one in every group of people that will be the leader, the party planner or the introducer of drugs and alcohol. This group has no rules. They live to have a good time. Young kids donít realize that these things have consequences. It may cause injury or death.

The Gang:
There are groups called gangs. The gangs have rules, a curtain code to follow. These gangs protect several things like territory, cars, and the name they go by. These gangs mainly exist in poor neighborhood. Since poverty surrounds them, each other are all they know. But in protecting each other, they have to resort to violence. As the result of this violence young people die when they donít have too. And many of them resort to drug and alcohol abuse as well.

As a young man I have made my mistakes and tried hard to correct them. But I was still young and made more mistakes then correcting them. I never tried to hide who I was or who I wanted to be. I kept dreaming. Growing up in the eighties I wanted to a rock star so I grow my hair long. As you can see that didnít happen. Luckily I decided to become a writer.
I grow up with people that were good with others and some that were not. I think that I am lucky. There were instances where I could have ended up in prison or dead.
The one thing I found out about people is that they change. Some changed it is to better themselves and others got mixed up with the bad crowd. They get lost in the world of drug and alcohol. The drugs and alcohol became their master. They become dependent on these things and will do anything to have them. They will go as far as selling themselves or sell things they own for that one last hit.

Friends, drugs and alcohol

It is sad when people go down this road and they donít know how to escape their nightmares. The people
that do end up fixing their lives they do it by finding Jesus Christ. If you find yourself in this situation find a counselor or a drug or alcohol programs that are available to you for free. You are not alone. People do care and want to help you.

To find out if these people are your friends or if you are a bad friend: In your head answer these questions; please pay attention to the warning signs.

When I am with my friends are drugs around?

When I am with my friends do we hurt people?

When I am with my friends do we break other peopleís things?

Do I do drugs and/or alcohol?

When my friends are around me, do I encourage them to do drugs?

Am I a bad example to my friends?

If you answered yes to some or all the questions, ask yourself this question, what can I do to change them?

Well, you can become leader and stop all thatís happening around you. Only you can decide how you live your life. The bad things you do, not only hurt you but you hurt the people that love you such as your mother, father, brothers or sisters. Spread the word, tell your friend to stop and to join you in a drug and alcohol free world. You may not convince everyone but convince as many people as you can. If you want to change your life and your current friends wonít follow, then, find new ones. It wonít be easy but if you want to change your life you must do it. You wonít be the first one and certainly wonít be the last.
I had a friend and his name was Cesar, he died when I was eighteen years old. He was a tall stocky guy. Cesar played high school football and was very good. He used to tell everyone that I was like his brother because when he moved from out of town, I was the first person he met that day. I never treated him any different, to me
Friends, drugs and alcohol

everyone was a friend, and no matter who it was I like to be their friend. Cesar carried a big ugly army bag to
school almost everyday. I couldnít help it. I had to make fun of him all the time. He was a great guy but to no fault of his own, someone he didnít know shot him over something so stupid. The guy was drunk and his gun went off accidentally and took my friendís life. After that happened, I stopped being so reckless with my own life. I changed a lot of thing about myself. I found new friend and till this day we all try to stay in touch. I graduated from high school and went to college when two years before I thought I was going to be a dropout from school. It wasnít easy and I never gave up. But be kind to others and others will do the same for you.
I can only suggest the obvious road but it is up to you to drive through it. To have friends is a special thing but make sure to take care of each other and learn for your mistakes. I know itís not easy growing up but if you want to be successful you must be strong and learn from others older than you. The best advice given is from the person that already went thought it. Donít be afraid and tackle your obstacle head on.

If you do drugs and/or alcohol expect these thing to happen to you:

Depending on the drug,
Loss of memory, The habit
Bad environment, Bad drugs
Selling things you own, Stealing
Lying, cheating
Selling drug, Negative Attitude,
Aggression, Depression
Hepatitis, Aids
Loose good friends, No trust
Jail, Death
Poor Judgment, School Dropout,
Disrespectful, Anti-social
Suicide, Disowned by family,

Scared! You should be. Iíve met people in the past that did both drugs and alcohol. And they paid a heavy price for their wrong doing. I bet that if they had a second chance they wouldnít do it again. The reason why is because theyíve hurt a lot of people along the way, especially the ones that love them. Remember that the
high will last for a short time but the pain you cause will last forever.

Find a mentor:
One of the ways to avoid wrong decisions is to find a mentor. Someone you can trust and you can always talk too. It is important that you love and care about yourself because you are special. And what you put in can mean the deference in other peopleís lives.

How can I find a mentor?
School counselors
A teacher
A policeman
A neighbor
Anyone who is willing to listen, gives good advice, and guides you through it, that is a mentor.

I have been through a lot. I donít need a mentor anymore.
You may not need a mentor but someone else will need one.
You need to step up and be a leader, a teacher, or a mentor. Sometimes when we help others, we end up forgetting our own problems. Which you can make sure others donít go the same route you went through and avoid costly mistakes.

Be a hero. Go above and beyond to help yourself or some one else. You should never feel ashamed, embarrassed, or forgotten. Just be you. Take command of your life and help others. This way, you will always be remembered and never forgotten.

From My Book: Growing From Boys To Men: Living the tough life.

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