Paul Worthington is 14 years old and in the ninth grade at Woodburn Junior High. Eric and Paul live on the same street and were best friends since they were very young. Paul lives with his mother and father and, until very recently, his older brother, Bill. Growing up around the Van Aart's had always given Paul a strong sense of family. Paul’s home life was vastly different from that of his friend. “For as long as I can remember, my mom and dad have had problems,” says Paul. “My mom is always working read hard – But my dad . . . , when he’s drinking . . . , sometimes it’s like he just doesn’t care.”
Throughout elementary school, Paul would try to avoid spending time alone with his father by hanging out with his friends. Often Mr. Worthington would be verbally abusive to Paul when he had friends over. Paul used to spend a great deal of time covering up his father’s drunken behavior. “He’s just tired,” or “He’s not feeling well,” Paul would say. Now, Paul wishes he could just forget all of it.
Paul’s older brother, Bill, also started using illegal substances at a young age. Bill has been in and out of jail because of problems with alcohol and other drugs and is no longer living at home. This has placed additional stress on Paul because he feels as if his family is falling apart.
The constant availability of alcohol and other drugs in the Worthington household made it much easier for Paul and his friends to start experimenting with drugs. Despite the negative impact drugs have had on his family, Paul didn’t think his own use was a big deal. In fact, he was having a lot of fun not having to think, or worry, or feel responsible for anything.
Paul is still one of the “popular” kids at school but his use of substances is beginning to cause problems for him. “Partying” isn’t quite as much “fun” as it used to be and Paul is just beginning to understand that it may be time to start changing his behavior and get some help.
Paul is a featured character in The Kids on the Block program on ATOD (alcohol, tobacco & other drugs).