Posts Tagged ‘adolescent sexuality’

An Open Letter to Young Adults about Sex, Drugs and Alcohol

February 27, 2015

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Dear Young Person: Alcohol, drugs and sexuality can enhance and create life. They work. They can alter your moods, change your perceptions and disinhibit you. It’s fun to be able to behave differently. Blotting out discomfort relieves anxiety. Going wild can release tension. Alcohol, drugs and sexuality have always been part of the human experience. Think of them as elegant enhancements to already very wondrous life experiences. The young adults I know move me with their energy, brilliance and dedication to causes and creativity. Even those making traditional choices bring unique voices to their work and professions. When I think that you are the future, I want nothing more than to nurture and support you, paving the way for your dreams. Yet, some of you have taken a dangerous detour. The current style of drug, alcohol and sexuality misuse both deprives and potentially harms you.

Our society, and that includes the people who raised you, haven’t figured out how to talk about limits without going back to a more repressive past. Rock and rap stars make tons of money pushing an image of sexy macho hooking-up druggy behavior but it isn’t real. When real people try and live that way, it usually feels really, really bad. People get hurt and violated. Further, attending high school, college or graduate school for the purposes of wild partying disrespects yourself, the concept of education, and all those people in the world who would give anything to have the privilege of education.

I know you have been given mixed messages about all of this stuff and it isn’t your fault if you think the only way to have a good time is to obliterate your mind. So, if you will allow me, I have put together a few modern guidelines for how to navigate the difficult terrain of drugs, alcohol and sexuality. Here goes: (more…)

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Teach Your Children Well

February 26, 2015

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I’m not going to link to every reported instance of college or high school partying getting out of hand. Nor am I going to link to the number of emergency room visits that occur every weekend due to alcohol poisoning or drug overdoses; nor every instance of campus sexual abuse. In almost every adolescent community a brilliant and talented student has to be rushed to the hospital each weekend. Or a young woman comes to my office feeling confused and violated by an unwanted sexual experience that arose out of too much alcohol, or having been “roofied.” Pre-gaming and tailgate parties occur openly in our culture. Americans abroad are known for their wild partying.

Recently a private university sent twelve kids to the hospital, two critically ill due to the effects of bad “molly.” The four student dealers were among the school’s brightest students. I’m not going to link to this particular incident or any other because it is too easy to blame individual students or the institutions or the families.

Let’s be clear: I am not advocating prohibition or demonizing the responsible use of drugs and alcohol.

Rather, I’m suggesting that along with a national conversation about campus sexual abuse, it’s also time for a national conversation about how getting wasted has become commonplace for kids as young as thirteen and fourteen. Sexual and alcohol abuse are, after all, related events.  Is it time to start setting some limits on the youthful narcissism and entitlement that makes excessive alcohol use and hook-up sexuality more rewarding than the development of good character?  In ways no one intends, do we not reinforce adolescent substance misuse? Do we cultivate the culture of getting wasted over the development of sober social skills? Consider what I have observed in my work as a psychologist:

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How to Date in Five (not so easy) Lessons

February 23, 2015

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I’m not sure why exactly it is easier to arm the student population than to simply reinforce the idea that sexuality is an extension of a relationship. I’m not advocating a return to a repressive sexuality. Rather, I’m thinking that the brilliant talented kids who constitute our country’s future might benefit from learning how to date.

I once suggested to a client that she have dinner with a man before having sex with him. She looked at me in horror.

What?” she exclaimed, “Have a meal with someone I’ve never met before? Are you crazy?”

No, I’m not crazy.

No matter how it may be publically depicted, the alcohol and drug fueled hook-up sexuality simply feels awful – especially the next morning when your breath stinks and you can’t find your underwear. Let’s get real. Sexuality without intimacy isn’t quite as fun as the hype would have you believe. Further, you get hurt or hurt someone else when you neither know nor understand your partner.

Finally, by popular demand, I am posting my five tips toward successful dating. In other words, here are some ideas for how to behave before you even think about having sex with someone. Here goes:

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Thoughts on Male Sexuality

December 27, 2013

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In an age when sexuality has become openly commonplace, both boys and girls find it hard to recognize and value limits. Conversations offer a beginning point, an opportunity to sort out the new sexual mores for the twenty-first century. See my recent post on CNN.com for some thoughts about helping boys find an honorable sexuality.


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