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Erowid Families and Psychoactives Interview Series
Dialog with Becca
Interview by Erowid
Becca's father invited her to attend the Mind States conference, where I had the chance to meet her. At his suggestion, she agreed to talk to me about herself and her attitudes about psychedelics. I wondered what had led up to the point where a father would be inviting his teenage daughter to a conference about non-ordinary states of consciousness. The following interview was conducted at Becca's best friend's house, where I had the pleasure of learning about her high school years and the grace with which she successfully navigated them. This was just a few weeks before her high school graduation.

Interviewer: How old are you?

Becca: I'm 17, I'm about to be 18.

Interviewer: Did you like high school?

Becca: Um, high school was kind of a mixed experience. I went to a private elementary and middle school, with 24 kids in a grade. I went to Berkeley High, and there were three and a half thousand kids in the school, a thousand freshmen alone. So there were a lot of people, it was a much bigger school. In freshman year I was on crew, I made some friends there, it was kind of more my preppy time. Then sophomore year, I started hanging out with kids in the park. They're called "the parkies." That's basically when I really got into… expanding my mind. I made a lot of friends, I had some really great experiences, but it was mostly outside of school, I wouldn't go to class very much. I really do feel I learned a lot about social skills, and taking care of myself when I'm out alone. Tthose things are important too, aside from just what's in school, however, I didn't get much of a school education there.

After my sophomore year, my parents pulled me out and sent me to Albany High, which is smaller, I think it's probably one and a half thousand kids, and that was kind of a shock almost. It's a small town, even though it's among all the suburbs. Everyone stays there, has been there since kindergarten. It's very cliquey, I don't get along with most of the kids there, I'm kind of one of those free thinkers like, "Woo hoo! let's go do stuff!" They all just sit and study, do schoolwork. They kind of have a different way of thinking about things, that I consider more close-minded. I haven't made as many friends there, but then I focus more on my schoolwork. First semester of my junior year, I was on honor roll, second semester I was on the dean's list, which is a 3.5 GPA or higher, so I really shaped up at that point. The first semester senior year this year, I was on the honor roll again, but then second semester I kinda of just went and did my thing again [laughter]. I mean, I know how to be academically centered now, so I'm excited to go to college. I'm going to start strapping down at that point. I had a lot of fun in high school, but not in high school: it's been aside from high school.

Interviewer: Do you want to tell me a little bit about when you started hanging out in the park? You said you learned social skills, and you were expanding your mind. That's got to mean something. [laughter] What was that about?

Becca: Do you want me to focus on the drug side of things? Or the friend side of things? I mean I can tell a lot of stories, or I can tell it kind of objectively.

Interviewer: Start out objectively but if you feel like there's a story that illustrates what you're talking about… What I'm really interested in is the idea that… Have you tried psychedelics?

Becca: Yeah I've taken acid and mushrooms, and I just tried Salvia.

Interviewer: Oh yeah?

Becca: I didn't take a lot. I didn't get to the height a lot of people have been talking about. I tried it.

Interviewer: I just met you, to me you're this cool teenager who's tried psychedelics, and it sounds like you've been responsible about it, and you've been communicating with your dad… That perspective is interesting. Also the fact that you are about to graduate from high school and go to college. You successfully navigated the world of high school, which is kind or rough for some people. There are kids who are so straight edge and studying so hard that they are socially maladapted because they're not really engaging in social activities. And then there's kids that go to the other end of the spectrum and they're smoking too much pot and cutting too much school, and they're not doing well in school, and that ultimately affects their potential if they're not motivated in other ways. So, I'm interested in hearing what your story is, a little bit about the social scene when you first got involved with cannabis, what went on…

Becca: So, I started getting high in 8th grade. It was with Carley. I met Carley in 8th grade. I think I smoked pot twice in 8th grade, and then when I got to 9th grade, I was in a big school and stuff, but I focused in on crew. I was really successful in that… I broke up with this boyfriend of mine, and he had this really cute friend. I was hanging out with his friend a lot when we broke up, and he smoked pot a lot. I thought, "Yeah! I'll smoke pot!" Because I like smoking pot, it's like my friend, you know? I was smoking a lot then, but when crew finals came up, I stopped smoking completely so that I could really get my strength and my lung capacity up. Because I could feel it in my lungs when I smoked. I basically just stopped smoking up until sophomore year. That's when I met all my friends in the park. I had this close friend Lisa who basically just introduced me to everybody. One time I was stoned off my ass basically, chillin' and lying on the grass, and this guy comes up to me, and he's like, "Hey, what's up." We start talking, and his name was Jay, and we basically clicked, and we were together basically for the next two years. He was my dearest boyfriend.

On January 6 I went to my very first rave, it was called Electric Allstars, it was this incredible rave. I hadn't ever been to one, but the people I was with were like, "Yeah! This is the coolest one we've been to." That same night I dropped E. I took a green clover, and I remember when it came up, and was like, whew… Everything got brighter, the lights looked like they were all coming towards me, I felt like a higher being almost. I was talking, and I was all close and touchy with the new boyfriend, it was a really great experience. I kind of like… all my inhibitions went away. I was kind of scared at first, because I'd never been to a rave, I didn't know these people, I was afraid to dance, and let loose in front of them. Obviously the E loosened me up a little bit. [laughs] Aside from that, I can't really describe what it was, but it was like I felt like I had found something. So, for the next couple of weeks, I dropped E every other weekend or something like that. We'd go to raves, all this stuff happened, and during the day, in the park, I'd kick it with all these kids. They were free thinkers. They had a different way of thinking that I'd never really met before. They were all really genuinely happy. I learned a lot from them, like, it doesn't really matter how other people judge you, because as long as you believe in yourself, who are they to say what you are. You shouldn't really worry about what other people say. And I really picked up on a lot of concepts that I hold dear to me. I think that I'm a much more confident, whole person than most teenagers my age are.

Interviewer: That was your sophomore year. Did you say you were cutting school to go hang out?

Becca: Yeah, I actually cut school eventually… a lot of it was actually just to go be with the boyfriend. He didn't smoke weed, and even though I did, I'd do it when he wasn't there, because I kind of felt weird about doing it, because he just didn't get it.

Interviewer: He didn't get how you felt or he didn't get that you wanted to smoke?

Becca: He didn't get that I wanted to smoke. He'd act aloof about it, and it really influenced the fact… I just didn't do it around him. I just didn't feel comfortable. And it's no fun to do if you don't feel comfortable about your smoking.

Interviewer: When you took ecstasy the first time, and for a while every other week, what was contributing to your deciding how you were doing that, and when you tried it for the first time? I'm wondering if you went through DARE, for example. What was going through your mind, what was your frame of reference as you were experiencing that time. Did you expect that there was going to be Ecstasy at your first rave because you'd heard about it? Did your boyfriend talk to you about stuff?

Becca: Ever since I was really young, I kind of think I was meant to do drugs. I always had that open mind. I can remember when I was really young, probably like 7, and I had my tooth extracted at the dentist office. They gave me laughing gas. I vividly remember in the car ride home with my dad, "it felt like I was on a cloud! I want to get more teeth pulled!" And he was like, "Uh, no I don't think so Becca." Like I said, I started smoking pot fairly early for the kids who were in my school, especially because it was a private school, I mean I was the only person out of the entire school who ever got high, except for Carley. I was always really really curious. I never went through any DARE programs, but I got a lot of drug education. Even though they tell you all the bad things, I'd hear them, and be like, "Yeah, but you can die from taking too much Tylenol." It's all subjective. I've kind of established the idea that you need to do everything in moderation. For the most part if you're smart about the circumstances when you do it, and you're responsible with how much you take, and how often you do it as a whole, not a whole lot can really go wrong. Just get it from safe people, go through the right motions, be smart about yourself, and nothing too bad can happen, I don't think.

Interviewer: Did you feel that was common sense for you, or did you feel that was something that you picked up from other people?

Becca: It's kind of common sense for me. I tend to think about things pretty logically. I don't let "Oh let's go do this" carry me away. I have a really loud voice, in my head, telling me what to do. It's kind of like my intuition, I almost think I can feel out situations. I've always been really open about trying all these drugs, and I've always been very interested. Basically I knew E was going to be there [at the rave], Jay told me, asked me if I wanted to roll and I was like, "Yeah! I do wanna roll." Basically I came in with the mindset that this was going to be my first experience taking E, and what better place to do it than a rave, because that's where you hear about it. I found that I actually prefer taking it alone, with one person, whether it's a girlfriend, or it's a boyfriend. You can just talk, and you connect one on one, but at that point, I'd heard, "E and raves," and so I thought, I'm going to the rave, I might as well do the E. But I had already been open to it, and I'd already wanted to take it beforehand. It was basically my decision, no one really pressured me into doing it. But with the change in social group, it became available to me. And that's basically how I decided to do that.

My first experience taking acid was a couple months after taking E. I'd been hearing about acid, and I'd heard mixed things about taking E. What from some people told me, it was kind of a scary thing. But I then got online, at Erowid, and I'd heard some of the good experiences. The idea of being able to see things that your mind can create sounded really really cool to me. So, me and my really good friend at the time, Lisa, had a day off. We didn't tell my parents about it, and I said I was going to school. Instead I just went to Lisa's house, because her parents were going to be gone all day. We each took two hits on a sugar cube. I took it in the morning and I went over to her house soon after. By the time I was there I was feeling, "Oh, this is interesting." We basically just locked ourselves in the house, because we had heard all these horror stories about you know, people taking half a vial and flipping out in public. We knew we should stay inside the house for the first time because we didn't know how we were going to react to it.

We basically stayed in her room, and talked and explored the new world that we were in. Because that's what it was. It wasn't so much the hallucinations. It was kind of like exploring everything again. It was like a psychological trip for me, at that point. We kind of had our own kingdom going. It sounds kind of silly, if I talk about it, but it was so great at the time. Me and her totally connected, we saw things eye to eye. It was a really great experience, it brought us a lot closer together as friends when it was all said and done. There were no problems, I didn't have any bad trips. Things were kind of moving around, doing their own thing, we had our dogs with us, and were just kind of playing with them, and we were talking with each other. Later on in the afternoon we went out and walked around and saw stuff. That was the best time I took acid, for sure. After that, I would take it with my boyfriend, Jay. But Jay had a different way of taking acid. He took it just to kind of get messed up. He kinda just likes to get messed up, no matter what it is. He wouldn't really see the psychological side, or the emotional side. You know how you can kind of get the emotional high, too? He isn't very emotional, he's kind of one of those people who is objective and logical. When he'd take it, he wouldn't see things the same way. And when I'd say stuff that wouldn't make logical sense, he'd kind of shun me for it, like, "That doesn't make any sense, don't say that!"

I can't tell you how many times I took acid, but it's probably 20 or 30 times. The more times I'd do it, the more insecure I felt when I would take it. Although I loved the experience, and I tried to enjoy it on my own, it wasn't the same, because I didn't have that loving emotional connection that I had with my best friend. I guess I got scared. I'm not sure how long ago it was, probably a year into taking acid was the last time I took it. It's probably about two years ago now. I had taken two hits of this really good acid, and I was having a great time, and for once, Jay was being nice. It was kind of like, "All right!" And so I guess what I was thinking was that I wanted to continue it, so I asked for another hit from the guy who had it. Well it proved to be a mistake. It got to be too much, I couldn't see past the hallucinations. I don't remember what happened, but I heard afterwards that I was just acting really weird, and off in my own world, doing my own thing…

I didn't wake up until the morning. It was basically non-stop hallucinations. While I was in it, I was having a great time. But when I came out, I was standing next to Jay, and he was pissed, because I'd apparently kept him up all night, talking to him. I think that if I were in his situation, I wouldn't have minded… It's your friend, it's your girlfriend, if they took too much, you stay with them, you make them not bad trip! Well, he did the opposite, he did, "I don't want to deal with her." I felt really bad afterwards, like, "Oh my god." I've never taken it since. I've taken mushrooms since. Every time I've taken them, I feel this really strong sense of insecurity. I don't feel comfortable talking to people, I always think that they're judging me. I don't see Jay anymore, but even with the people I would consider friends, who I would normally be comfortable with, I still go, "Oh my god what are they going to think of me," if I say something that doesn't make sense. If I say something weird and they question me, I feel like they're judging me. I just don't like that feeling. Basically if I'm not having fun, if I don't feel that same sense I felt the first time, I don't see the point in taking it if I'm not going to have a good time. I'm not saying I'm never ever going to do it again, but I'm going to wait for the right time. I'm going to wait for the time that I have a girlfriend with me, that we can relax, where I can open myself up to it again. When I have all these insecurities, this questioning, out of my mind. I think it's going to be after my teen years. Because I hear that your teen years are kind of the insecure and most confusing, and I want to wait till I can really enjoy it again. That's basically my experience with those two.

I still roll once in a while. It's very occasionally, because I actually heard Ann and Sasha talking, that after about your 12th time, it stops losing that magic. And I noticed that. I didn't realize it till they had said it, but it's kind of like what it is. It stopped really having the magic. When I take it, it's a different experience now. I feel that although it's not so much of my thing at this point, I'm so thankful for my experiences with each of them. Although I've had bad experiences, I still was able to expand the way I thought. I realize that there's doors that I haven't unlocked, entire new things that are all in my mind, that I hadn't even realized were there before. It really changed the way that I thought about life in general, it changed my outlook. In those experiences, I was able to explore parts of me. I was able to deal with a lot of things, that I probably wouldn't have been able to deal with before. I was a bad kid, in the sense that I wasn't getting along with my parents at that point… My parents are divorced, I wasn't living with my dad, I was only living with my mom. I basically would just go out, run out of the house in the middle of the night, I'd go off and party or hang out with friends, go and explore, all sorts of stuff. I was cutting classes. Basically how my mom - and I think my dad at that point - saw it, was I was this out of control teenager. I got this boyfriend and all of a sudden everything went to hell, I ran away from home several times, I got taken home by the police once, I was just bickering with my mom… But I wouldn't really attribute that to the drugs. It was more of my choice.

I didn't believe in what my parents believed in. My dad was on my mom's side at that point, you kind of have to understand… there's this whole dynamic going on. They didn't get it. They kind of just thought, like they just saw what was on TV. There's all these kids and they go crazy on these drugs and it ruins their lives and it ruins their brain, and they won't be able to think the same, and my parents were like, "Oh my god, what are we going to do with her." They would threaten to send me to Thunder Road (an adolescent treatment center), and all this stuff. Although all that was going on at home, I didn't let if affect my life. I knew that was I was doing was right for me, because I could just feel it. I knew some of the things I was doing were bad. I wasn't going to school, I probably should have been going to school more. I was being defiant to my parents, but that's just part of me. I think that the problem was that I wasn't going by my parents agenda, and they didn't like that, so they were coming down on me. The more they came down on me… it's kind of within me just to rebel. The more someone tries to stop me, the more I'm going to do it, that's just how I am. I think that for a lot of things, that's a good attribute to have, just not against your parents when you're 15 years old.

Again, I'm so thankful for everything I've been through, because it's made me into the person I am today. My parents have always… they say it jokingly but you know they kind of mean it, "Parents know everything. We know better, you think you know everything as a teenager, but you don't. Just wait till you learn how things really are." But I realize that parents are human too. Just because they were older didn't make them right. I questioned them a lot more. I feel like I got to understand that you can't just assume that they know what's best. You kind of have to go with what's right for you. When all is said and done, I didn't get held back a grade, I mean I took some summer school classes at college but I liked those too. They were better classes because they were more to the point than a lot of high school classes were. I'm a smart kid, I haven't lost any brain power, I don't think I'm dumb. And I feel like I'm a lot further than a lot of kids are, because again I got the mix of the social, but also the academic. I learned stuff, I absorbed when I was in class, I absorbed what they'd say. I wouldn't necessarily put it out into tests, put it out into homework, but I got it.

I did go out of control in 10th grade, because… I got into other stuff. I got into meth, I was smoking and snorting meth. I did coke. I took some pills, like Vicodin, nothing too serious. It was mostly when I got into speed that things went really wrong. I realized that, and I stopped. I don't do it anymore. Seriously, that's where I really feel like things went wrong, when I got into doing meth. I'd stay up for days, and I'd pick at my face, and… I was too young to be doing it, I mean I tried it at 15, that's pretty young to do speed. With the E and the acid, and the mushrooms, that was all expanding and learning about myself. But with the powders, I kind of got in the same mindset as my boyfriend: "Yeah lets get messed up." But that's not what I liked. I didn't like coming down the next day and feeling like complete shit. I didn't like that at all! And so I probably messed with it a lot for about three months, and I continued to do it once in a while rarely for about a year or a year and half after. I'm talking about once in a while. The more I did it, the more I realized I didn't like it. I can't really think of a good reason to do it. I mean I'm not learning more about myself, I'm not making myself happier, I'm making myself more depressed when I do it. I really notice that, I feel horrible when I take meth. I could feel how bad it was for me. When I'd been smoking, I'd cough up stuff. I don't like that. I could just feel my body getting weak, my muscles would ache. I don't need that, it works against me. And so I just don't do it anymore.

Interviewer: You mentioned that your best friend Carley hasn't tried acid. How does that play out in your friendship?

Becca: Well for her, she is a little less mentally and emotionally stable. I'm pretty stable. I'm kind of into it. I like the idea of expanding my mind. Carley, when she was younger, she had a history of depression. Neither of us knows what the acid would really unlock. It could unlock the bad with the good.

Interviewer: What about Salvia?

I hadn't taken Salvia, because I knew it was a psychoactive, and I had had the experience with the acid. I also had a bad trip on mushrooms, in which I thought I was sick and that I was going to die, and I was with the same boyfriend when I did it [laughs] and he reacted in the same way. I thought, "I don't think I can handle psychoactives right now." Because I get that insecurity. If I can't control myself I don't want to put myself through it, because I don't want to ruin it forever. I want to be able to experience these types of things later if I want to. I'm ok with waiting for a few years if I have to. I have my entire life ahead of me to do it if I want to. So I'm just kind of taking a step back. But, I bought it from my friend. He'll read a couple of reports on it, read what it's about, and then he'll just do it. If other people have done it and been ok, he just takes it. I don't think that's the best idea, if I'm going to do something new, I like to know everything about it. I like to know what problems could happen, what problems do happen a lot, if there are any. But I also like to know… like I said, in the past I've read these reports and they don't accurately describe what I feel, and it's maybe because I'm taking a lower dose…

Interviewer: What is your situation with your father, what understanding is there between you?

Becca: After the fiasco sophomore year, there was this big thing between me and my mom, it was basically the Big Fight. She ripped up all the pictures that I had on the wall, all the pictures of my friends from the park, all the kids from Berkeley High. I don't have the pictures anymore. But, it's ok, I still have the memories. At that point, she was like, "Go live with your father." I had never really wanted to live with my father before, because I just didn't get along with him. Since things were so bad with my mom, I was like, "OK, I'll go live with my dad." I was determined to make it work. He had known about what had been going on. I went to live with him, and it was just me and my dad. He has sides that I don't like about him, he's kind of manipulative sometimes, but if you just try to deal with a person, especially if it's your father, you can get along with them if you really try. So, I went to live there, and we'd just kind of have talks. Basically the rules for him were really simple at my house. If I did these certain chores, I'd be allowed to go out and be with my friends. Which was at that point all I wanted, I cherished the time with my friends. Not even to go out and get high or anything, just to be with my friends was the biggest privilege for me. I'd do whatever I had to appease him, and I'd be able to go out. He got what he wanted, he got the sense that I was being responsible, I could handle the chores that were given to me, and I got what I wanted, the happiness of being able to be with my friends. Basically, as much as I wanted, to a certain extent, enough to make me feel comfortable.

So we were both happy, enough so that we were able to talk objectively. And we shared experiences with each other. I told him the time he took me to a parade, a big Mardi Gras festival, and I took acid. One night I told him about it, "I was frying, and you had no idea!" He was like, "Wow you can really handle yourself." He'd share stories with me about when he'd go to camp-outs. He kind of understood. After I talked about it a lot, he understood I was a smart kid about this type of thing. We both realized I went out of hand, earlier on, but we're talking about now. He realized that I was responsible, and he wouldn't punish me for taking drugs, certainly not acid and E. It was mostly just a health concern, when I would take E. Basically, if someone gives me a chance, I'll talk with him. It goes back to what the friends at Berkeley High taught me, I'm not afraid of what people are going to think of me. It goes the same for both my parents. They're just people, when it comes down to it. I'd tell my dad things, some things he may not want to hear about, but, it made me feel comfortable. If I were going to go roll one night, I'd tell him. I'd say, "I'm going to this rave" and he'd say, "Are you going to party?" That was our thing, "Are you going to party?" I'd tell him truthfully yes or no. Because he knew he could trust me to tell him the truth, he always knew what was going on. Since he knew that I was responsible, he felt OK with me doing that type of thing, in some ways.

As a parent, he can never say, "Oh it's ok to do that," that's how he feels, as a parent he's not really allowed to say, it's ok. But he understands. And he knows that when it comes down to it, he can't really stop me. So he accepted it. It brought us a lot closer together, because he was able to see the real me. With my mom, I always have to lie. No I'm not smoking any pot. No I'm not drinking at all. No I'm not going to see boys. And it gets tiring to lie all the time. But if I want to do what I want to do, and keep peace at home, I have to lie to her. By my dad allowing me to talk to him about it, and not punishing me for the experiences I wanted to experience, I was able to tell him what's actually going on. He was able to see the real me. It's a much much closer relationship.

Now, the second semester senior year came, and I started slacking off in school again, we were getting into fights, we got on each others' nerves, so I'm back living with my mom for the last couple of months. Although we're not getting along at this minute in time, we still have the love for each other, we still have the connection there. Just last night, we went out to dinner, we were talking, and I was able to talk openly with him again. This time it was about what I really want for college. By opening the door, to letting me feel comfortable talking to him about drugs, I really feel like I'm able to talk to him about anything. I know that if I'm really really messed up and I shouldn't be driving home, that I really can call my dad and have him pick me up and he'll be happy for it and I won't get in trouble for it. I think that's probably one of the best situations a kid who's going to use drugs can ask for. If you parents just say, "Nothing: don't do it," you're going to be like, "well I'm going to go do it anyway." If you really want to go do something, you're going to do it. But you're missing the guidance from your parents. They've been through it before. For a lot of kids, if you do drugs, it's because your parents have done it before you. They can share with you their experiences.

It kind of helps keep you safe if have your parent really know what's going on. So if a parent is open to hear it, and will be willing to not just punish a kid, they'll get to know their kid a lot better, because they'll actually know… them. Although he knows that I do bad things, my dad really knows the good parts of me, too. He knows I actually took care of myself, in a situation where a lot of kids wouldn't have been able to. Because I'm able to tell him about the whole experience. Yes, the experience may have included that I took E. But he can hear about my adventures, too. And usually it's a pretty good story, in which I took care of myself, even though bad situations may have presented themselves. With my mom, she misses out. And I miss out on letting her know about those things.

Interviewer: What about college?

Becca: I'm ready to leave the Bay. I've lost all of my friends at Berkeley. Actually, a lot of them got into speed, and a lot of them went too far. Some of them got depressed from taking too much E. Some went to jail for stealing cars when they were all tweaked out. A lot of them weren't able to be as responsible as I was. So I lost the friends from Berkeley. At my new school in Albany, the kids just don't understand. They haven't even touched the stuff. They think I'm a crackhead for even trying E. That's ok, that's what they think, they don't understand.

Interviewer: Do all the kids know you've tried E? You have a reputation?

Yeah! I'm not going to hide who I am. This is a part of me, and this is what I've done, and if they're going to ask me, I'm going to tell them. In all truth, I don't really need their friendship, because they aren't my people. I still have my girl Carley [laughs], we've been together since 8th grade. We have plans for the future, when we both get out of college. But I'm ready to go to school. I'm ready to try something new. I'm going to go and see how it works out for me.