Dirty Little Secret: Rampant Underage Partying

The high school party is stereotyped by movies like “American Pie,” “Superbad,” and “She’s All That.” Hollywood shows red cups all over the place, teenagers barking off balconies and everyone being completely wasted, but how accurate is this? The picture that Hollywood paints in nothing like what takes place in Los Altos, for better or worse.

First, Los Altos parties do not tend to have hundreds of people cramming themselves into every available corner of a house. Second, parties here have much more than alcohol being served. Marijuana and hard drugs like ecstasy, cocaine, and methamphetamines have become more and more common among students. Most people stop at the “gateway drug,” but within some circles is is becoming increasingly popular to experiment with and abuse the harder drugs.

“There has always been alcohol and pot,” an anonymous senior male said. “But I’m beginning to see more hardcore drugs, in particular ecstasy and cocaine.”

Students tend to agree that partying is a part of their culture and is a rite of passage into adulthood. They see experimentation as no big deal, something done in social situations. Drinking has become an accepted part of being a high school student, with 58 percent admitting to drinking underage.

Though most who party are willing to get drunk is social situations, some revert to alcohol whenever and wherever.

“It becomes a problem when it’s being done no longer in a social situation,” an anonymous junior female said. “It’s outside of just being social; it becomes an addiction.”

While it may seem somewhat surprising that so many teens get involved with alcohol and drugs while the drinking age is 21, the truth is that alcohol is very accessible.

“You can get it so easy,” the senior male said. “[The law] is not enforced that much. At times it seems like it isn’t even illegal.”

While many students enjoy experimentation, some students fail to understand what is behind the party craze.

“I think it is pretty easy to stay clean,” an anonymous sophomore male said. “There is no excuse for that.”

Peer pressure and boredom are the main reasons for experimentation. People feel that they party “for acceptance” and “to simply have fun.” Teenagers argue that the boredom and lack of activities within the Los Altos community leads them to alcohol and drugs to “pass the time.”

The Talon spoke to a senior male who has been sober for a year and three months, and it has been almost three years since he started trying to get sober with the help of Alcoholics Anonymous. Like so many, he got hooked and could not get off easily. The battle against addiction is not easily won.

“There is a lot of pressure as a kid, and it was a chance to escape reality,” the senior male said. “I lost control and I and to face the problem.”

While he is now clean, he understands why so many students get involved with drugs. He himself misses them and is at times unsure about no longer allowing himself to take that road. But now that he is able to take a sober breath, he feels that his life is much better.

Although many students do experiment on campus, many students feel that drugs are not the path to take. But surprisingly, these students do not look down upon those that do.

“If people do drugs, they’re not bad people,” a sophomore male said. “Anyone could be doing drugs. … They don’t necessarily dictate who a person is.”

But with so many risks in partying, many involved feel that people do not need to hurry into the experience.

“Don’t rush into it all,” an anonymous junior female said. “There will be plenty of opportunities.”