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Alcohol abuse: fun and games can turn into catastrophe

Posted on 24 October 2012 by admin


By Brian Wolf
For the Tribune


Years ago, a priest was visiting a ‘Tobacco Road’ North Carolina jail when he was introduced to an elderly prisoner named Joshua.

Recalling the Biblical story of Joshua, who commanded the sun to stand still, the priest smiled and asked the man, “What are you in here for, making the sun stop?”

“No, Father,” replied the prisoner, “for making the moonshine!”

Of course, we can smile at that anecdote, but as we do, let’s remember that for thousands of underage drinkers, the moon will no longer shine as their sun has already set. Sadly for them, alcohol abuse led to an unfortunate and early demise.

Substance abuse by minors has long been a serious problem. Truancy, attention deficit, emotional instability, reckless driving, sexual promiscuity and other damaging traits can all be accentuated by substance abuse.  The long term impact on student achievement, relationships, reputations, futures, wallets and self-images is disastrous.

Hollywood productions frequently attempt to ‘glorify’ the college experience as one long drug and alcohol-soaked romp. However, dazed and confused stupors, skipping classes, failing grades and the ensuing loss of financial aid are hardly good news for college students to write home about.

Proud parents, who once wistfully sent Junior off to college, and sacrificed big bucks to keep him there, are unlikely to be amused by such antics when the college’s academic probation notice arrives in the mail, along with the bills for tuition, textbooks, fees and other school-related expenses.

Some might argue that being in school is a stressful experience and that students need to be able to blow off a little steam occasionally. While there is a kernel of truth behind that statement, today’s educational institutions provide their students with a plethora of opportunities to participate in truly healthy activities designed to enhance their learning experiences while providing a vehicle for a well-rounded education through physical, social, and leadership development. Athletics, community service, journalism, student government, music and drama are but several excellent examples of such good, clean fun.

In closing, I recall the time many years ago when, as a young teacher, I noticed that one my students had fallen asleep, face down at his desk. For kicks and giggles, I decided to play a practical joke on him.

When the school bell rang marking the end the period, I softly told the rest of the students to leave the classroom very quietly. Next, I stood at the door and hushed the incoming students.  My plan was to have the new class surround the youth, then wake him up and watch his reaction as he slowly realized that he was in a totally different class.

When the new class had settled in around him, I went over to his desk, stood about a foot from him and called his name.

Failing to gain his attention, I then shouted his name but still, there was no reaction.

Finally, growing somewhat alarmed, I firmly grasped his shoulders and shook them vigorously in a futile attempt to rouse him from his apparently deep slumber. Instead, he poured out of his desk, and slumped to the floor. His lips were caked with dried saliva and his face reflected a bluish cast.

The building principal, the ambulance and the police soon followed. Thankfully, the student in question survived a dangerous drug overdose that day, but I too learned a valuable lesson. What might appear to be simple fun and games in the beginning can easily turn to catastrophe.  While this is sometimes the case for seemingly harmless pranks, it is all too often tragically so in the case of illicit substance abuse.

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