Drug abuse is a serious public health issue. Every year millions of cases are reported across North America, majority of which are youths ages twelve to seventeen. Teenagers turn to drugs as an escape route from the issues that they are facing in their lives. Alice, the diarist of the novel Go Ask Alice, is a fifteen year old teenager who experimented with several illegal drugs throughout the novel which led to her tragic ending. Alice suffers anxiety and depression when she moves to a new town. She struggles to socialize with the students at school and establish a communication with her parents at home. Eventually, she gets hooked up with drugs during the summer. Now she feels pressured to take more drugs in order to fit in. Alice's early experience with drugs is caused by anxiety and depression, lack of communication, and peer pressure.
Alice moves into the new town and finds herself being a social outcast. On her January 6 entry she writes, "Oh Diary it was miserable! It was the loneliest, coldest place in the world. Not one single person spoke to me during the whole endlessly long day." (17). On her first day at school, Alice is ostracized by the other kids, and immediately feels anxious about her situation. She begins to harbour feelings of hate towards herself and the people around her as she writes in her February 8 entry, "I'm getting fed up to here with this town and school in general and my family and myself in particular." (19). She couldn't wait to go back to her old town where she feels at home with her friends. Unfortunately, she accidentally gets hooked on drugs and become dependent on them. On her August 10 entry she writes, "I think I'd better take some of Gramps' sleeping pills, I'm never going to be able to sleep without them." (46). Teenagers who suffer from depression are more susceptible to drug abuse to get rid of the unhappy feeling inside them. She takes her grandfather's sleeping pills so she could escape the confusion surrounding her summer vacation. However, escaping one's problem will never solve the issue itself.
Alice realizes that she actually took drugs that night and vows not to take another one anymore. Thinking about her past activities, Alice is confused and apprehensive about the fact that she became a doper. On her August 6 entry she expresses her desire to talk to someone regarding her problems. She writes, "Oh, how I wish I had someone, anyone, to talk with who knows what they are talking about." (42). Alice never really had an actual friend except for her Jewish neighbour, Beth, who actually understands her. Unfortunately, she is at a summer camp some hundred miles away from Alice. She has no other choice but to escape her problems and she can only do that through drugs. On her August 23 entry Alice writes, "It seems like I've been held down for so long, maybe it's the sleeping pills and the tranquilizers, but there are moments when I'd really like to just burst loose, but I guess those days are gone forever! I'm really confused! I wish I had someone to talk to." (49). Alice returns home with her growing addiction with drugs. She still wishes that she could talk with someone who knows drugs, but she is afraid that they will not understand her. On her September 7 entry she writes, "I had the overwhelming desire to break down and tell them everything. I wanted to tell them! I wanted more than anything in the world to know that they understood, but naturally they just kept in talking and talking because they are incapable of understanding anything." (51). No one in her family knows that she is had tried taking drugs or that she is currently taking in drugs. She keeps everything bottled up inside her hoping that one day someone might actually understands her. She finds refuge in the hands of other students who also take drugs.
Alice is invited at a party by Jill, an acquaintance more popular than Alice. The kids at the party quickly befriend Alice despite their differences. On her July 10 entry Alice writes, "The kids at Jill's were so friendly and relaxed and at ease that I immediately felt at home with them. They accepted me like I had always been one of their crowd and everyone seemed happy and unhurried." (30). All Alice wants are friends that will accept her as she is, and the kids at Jill's party do exactly what she wanted. To complete her so called initiation in the group, Alice participates in the game "Button-Button" which leads to her first drug experience. She feels ecstatic and loved for the first time. Although she feels bad after the effects are gone, she also realizes that in order to be part of a group she must take drugs just like everybody else. She writes on her August 3 entry, "They were all going to trip on Acid, and since I'd been cooped up for so long I decided I might as well take one last trip too." (40). After abstaining from drugs, Alice gives in to the temptation and joins some kids at Bill's house taking a trip with acid, making a promise that it will be her last. However, as she tries different drugs, she also starts to depend on them. Alice meets Chris, also a doper at a boutique back at her town. They immediately become friends as they share common traits such as taking drugs and hating the Establishment. On her September 21 entry Alice writes, "We never get tired and she and I are two of the most popular girls at school. I know I look great, I'm still down at 103 pounds, and every time I get hungry or tired I just pop a Benny." (55). Alice feels great about her new image. She is down to her ideal weight and everyone at her school knows her. Alice is happy with all the results, even if it means that she has to take drugs so she could fit in.
In conclusion, Alice's own actions and decisions led her drug addiction. She lets negative thoughts consume her, isolating herself with the people around her. When she tries drugs for the first time, Alice breaks free from her own little world. However, she becomes dependent on it to the point that she must take it in order to stay afloat. In the end, Alice's early experience with drugs is caused by anxiety and depression, lack of communication, and peer pressure.