Drug-Free Living: Victoria Gacek


Did you know that most teens don’t use drugs? 

Despite the peer pressure you may face, or what you see on TV, the majority of your friends are probably choosing a drug-free lifestyle.  

These teens don’t always get the shine they deserve. But we’re hoping to change that with our new ‘Drug-Free Living’ series where we’ll feature teen leaders from across the country. 

. . . 
Fifteen-year old Young Marine Corporal Victoria Gacek is part of the Mecklenburg County Young Marines in North Carolina.

Between playing varsity soccer, the bass clarinet, and participating in her school’s JROTC program, 15-year-old Victoria Gacek definitely has a lot on her plate. 

But it’s the Mecklenburg County Young Marines program, where she serves as a Corporal, where she’s gotten the opportunity to speak to other teens about drug use. 

“I joined as a very shy kid that was afraid to talk in front of even small crowds, to now being able to teach hour-plus Drug Demand Reduction classes,” she told us. 

WATCH: Victoria Created This Anti-Drug Video for Teens

Why is it important to be drug free? 

Substance misuse can cause you to miss out on opportunities to do things you actually enjoy, like sports or other activities, Victoria said. 

“It is especially important you stay drug free because your brain and body are still developing,” she added. 

So, what’s her advice to teens who feel pressured by friends to misuse substances? Just Think Twice. 

“Trying a drug once could potentially cause you to become addicted,” she said.  

“Saying no could be the hardest but best decision you could possibly make.” 

But What if You’re Feeling Stressed? 

A lot of teens get high to mentally “escape” from stressful situations. But, as Victoria points out, there are healthier ways to deal with stress. Here are a couple that work for her: 

1) Don't stay to yourself. “When you surround yourself with positive people, they can always make you feel better,” she said. 

2) Use an activity as an outlet. “I also like to play my different instruments like my bass clarinet, clarinet, or ukulele,” Victoria said. “Playing helps relieve stress. I can learn new songs [and feel] like I accomplished something during that day. It makes me feel more confident to help me overcome what stresses me.” 

How Can I Get Involved in My Community? 

Getting involved in a community-based organization like the Young Marines can change your life in many ways. If you want to create your own group, Victoria shared these tips:  

  • Come up with a plan. Think about a big problem in your community and how you can help fix it. 
  • Never give up on your goal no matter how tough it may get. The more passion you have in something you would like to fix or change, the more likely you will accomplish that goal.  
  • Gather other teens or adults that are interested in making a difference in the same thing you would like to do, and work together to accomplish that. 

Watch: Check out the Red Ribbon Week video Victoria and her Young Marines group produced last fall.


Victoria's Anti-Drug PSA

As part of the National Young Marine of the Year Drug Prevention PSA Challenge, Victoria created the video PSA below to spread the word about substance misuse and to give teens creative ways to "say no."