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Thursday, April 26 News

Letter: Column prompts binge-drinking alert

This is in response to Thomas Lawlor's column in the May 16 issue of the Fairfield Citizen, "Alcohol education: The proof is in the pouring."

I don't think most parents are aware of how much binge drinking is going on these days in middle school, high school and college. The consequences can be quite serious, including death. Each year, an estimated 1,825 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die from alcohol-related, unintentional injuries.

Check out www.samspadyfoundation.org and read the heartbreaking story of a beautiful college girl named Samatha Spady who died because she drank too many shots of vanilla vodka in a dorm room, passed out (a sign of alcohol poisoning that should never be ignored) and was left in a frat house to "sleep it off." Well, Samantha Spady never woke up.

Rape and sexual assault (of both males and females) also can result after a night of drinking, as well as drunk driving, fighting, vandalism and/or arrests.

A lot of kids today are binge drinking. I am hearing stories of 120-pound high school and college girls drinking until they pass out or fall and give themselves a black eye, or get date raped by a "friend." We all want to keep our kids safe. I hope we can all work together to make that happen.

Most colleges and universities have a "good samaritan" policy -- that anyone who gets help for someone in trouble or in harm's way at a party (for example, anyone who calls 911 to get help for a friend who got drunk and passed out) will not be penalized for being at the party. I hope all the kids who will be going to proms in the next few weeks and graduating from high school will stay safe and call 911 to get help for friends who might have too much to drink.

These are the signs of alcohol poisoning. Call 911 if a person has any of the following symptoms:

1. Is unconscious or semiconscious

2. Is breathing less than 10 breaths per minute or has irregular breathing (check every two minutes).

3. Has cold, clammy, pale,or bluish skin

4. Can't be awakened by pinching, prodding or shouting.

5. Is vomiting without waking up.

What can parents do to keep their kids safe? Studies clearly show that parents remain a key influence on college students, and if students know or perceive parents' disapproval of behaviors, they are less likely to engage in them. Visit www.DrugFreeActionAlliance.org.

Michelle C. Walker


The writer said she is a mental-health counselor certified by the National Board for Certified Counselors.