Our Masterpieces...Err, Our Novels

Sunday, April 1, 2012

A is for...Addiction

Controversial Song of the Day: "Addicted" by Kelly Clarkson

Quita and I admit that we haven't been the most loyal bloggers as of late. That's why when we found out about the Blogging from A to Z Challenge we knew we had to jump all over that. What better way to fall back in love with the blogosphere?

It's best to pick a theme when trying to blog everyday (especially after a long absence). Our theme?


And today, we're focusing on ADDICTION.

Did You Know....?

*Aside from alcohol, marijuana is the most commonly used drug among high school seniors

*Only 50% of high school students consider marijuana use to be a risk

*83.9% of teens say it's easy to obtain marijuana

*8.5% of high school seniors have tried cocaine, and 1.4% have tried heroin

*25% of students from grades 9-12 admit to being offered drugs on SCHOOL PROPERTY

*All statistics taken from teendrugaddiction.com

When critics complain about YA being "too dark," they tend to point the finger at mentions of drug use in these stories. However, the numbers above show that a significant number of teens have been exposed to drugs--whether they themselves have tried it, or know of a classmate who uses. Even as a middle school counselor, I'm sad to say that I've even heard stories of how easily accessible drugs are in my students' neighborhoods.

Despite the flack from critics, do Quita and I mention drug use in our stories? Yes--but only when it fits with a character. In fact, in Quita's story, The Blues, one of her characters is a drug dealer, and a secondary one faces addiction problems. True, these may not be the most popular stories--but I'm pretty sure there are teens out there that can relate.

So what other YA novels can you read about addiction and drug use until The Blues hits the shelves?

So what are YOUR thoughts of drug use in YA? Have you written about it yourself? What are some of your fave books that mention drugs and/or addiction?


Adrianne Russell said...

Drug use does turn up in my YA fiction, most often alcohol which was much more pervasive when I was a teen than anything else.

Rachel said...

I found your blog from the A-Z blog challenge. My YA is very dark - it deals with revenge, and I often pitch as the book form of Heathers (minus the funny). I think that there are a lot more 'dark' books - see BREAK by Hannah Moskowitz and many of the ones you guys talked about as well.
I once spent a summer at sleepaway camp writing about a girl, her older boyfriend and their addiction to pot. LOL It was sooo not realistic - the house burnt down because of a bong... I was a silly 13 year old lol.

Happy blogging!

barrowblade said...

I've always had something of an interest in drug fiction. Perhaps because it is so aware of its own total depravity. Denis Johnson once said it was very difficult to write well within the genre because your hands get so big that it becomes impossible to type.

Pam said...

Hi and thanks for stopping by my blog, always wonderful to meet another Pam! If I ever finish a novel, I plan on doing YA or MG!

Arlee Bird said...

Forget about drugs--what about blog addiction? I've got it.

Glad you found the Challenge.

A Few Words
An A to Z Co-host blog

Mel said...

Hi Pam! Thanks for commenting on my post. I'll have to pay more attention to the drugs mentioned in YA lit when I read it. Very interesting!

Joyce Lansky said...

I see nothing wrong with mentioning drugs in YA novels. It shows the teens what drugs are about in the worst sort of way. I can't imagine anyone wanting to experiment with drugs after reading Crank. Thanks for stopping by my A post.

Catch My Words

Marie Anne said...

I don't write fiction, but I think all authors bear a certain responsibility with their work. Since alcohol and drugs are such a large part of what goes on in the big bad world out there, I don't see any reason to eliminate it in YA, but neither should it be glamorized.

Stopping by from the A-Z Challenge, blogging at Ross County Roundup and Write, Wrong or Indifferent.

Kate Scott said...

I've been thinking about making addiction a major sub-plot in my current WIP. This post is good encouragement to push me towards it.

Jessica Love said...

I had drug use in my last book, but I took it out at the very last minute before I queried it. It seemed natural to me and it fit the character, but...I don't know. I guess I just chickened out. There was already awkward sex and language and drinking. I didn't want to make it issues-palooza, I guess.

Kate Arms-Roberts said...

I write Middle Grade fantasy and I leave the grittier material to the YA genre.
I have heard that most kids start hearing about drugs/alcohol by 4th grade. It seems problematic not to start dealing with drugs in literature until years after kids hear about it in life. Does the mystery make drugs more appealing? Food For thought, indeed.
Also, my favourite YA with an addiction sub-plot is Holly Black's Valiant.

Cheree Smith said...

Great post. I haven't written a story with drug addiction, but I do love reading those gritty stories.

ali cross said...

I wholeheartedly agree that we shouldn't shy away from difficult topics if they are appropriate for our stories. In my book, BECOME, a main character is an alcoholic and another is a ... not a dealer per se, because he provides whatever drugs are needed/desired to the girls he is "playing". He's a provider. :) And in the house where my MC lives there is rampant drug use and ... other temptations.

I don't go crazy into detail--but it IS her life. And, I think it's a "real" and appropriate backdrop to Desi's story.

So yeah. I think these topics are wholly appropriate for teens today. I'm jazzed by your theme for this challenge! WTG!