Feb 28, 2011


Two local college students died this weekend, in unrelated incidents. According to local law enforcement, "Alcohol consumption appears to have played a part in the separate deaths of two students in two days."

The comments section of the local rag's site is getting the usual assortment of comments: a few condolences, and the rest suggesting that Something Must Be Done.

Make alcohol illegal! (That worked well ninety years ago.)
Lower the drinking age! (I have no argument with this.)
Charge the person(s) who gave them alcohol! (It's a college town, parties are the rule, and good luck figuring out where they were drinking.)
Stop building off-campus housing! (Good luck with that.)

And it continues in similar veins.

The answer is, like many problems, not to be found in more laws. The underlying problem is far too complex, as you try to balance societal mores, family values, peer pressure, and so forth. Instead, it's going to take a cultural sea change. Parents, educators, actors, athletes, everyone around a child should be aware of the image they're presenting.

I hear my peers - nominal adults in their late 20s and 30s - bragging about the night they had at the bar over the weekend, and I cringe. I won't claim a holier-than-thou: I've overindulged a handful of times, and lived to regret it. I do wonder, though: what kind of lives have we built for ourselves, and our future generations, when the high point of the weekend is hugging the toilet? (And then posting pictures of it on facebook?)

I won't say my weekends are glamor-filled. I live in a rural area and have had a house for less than two years. Last weekend actually did involve hugging a toilet - as I tried to get it properly seated on a new wax ring in the floor I spent the preceding weekends putting down. Mowing, maintenance, improvement... it's not always fun, but I've usually got something to show for my effort.

The names in the news lately? Charlie Sheen - presumed to be high and/or drunk. Lindsay Lohan - busted for shoplifting. Athletes on drugs, musicians driving drunk... how is any of this something to aspire to?

I don't have an answer. Just my nickel. But please be mindful of the image you're showing to the world on a regular basis.


Anonymous said...

I'm especially appalled by the 17-year-old whose body was found in the snow. The kid who drank himself into an alcoholic coma and died? Probably nothing anyone could've done once he decided to head that way. But there's a point beyond which you don't let your drunk friend even stumble home by herself, never mind drive home. Sure, the IC freshman might have died for the same reason the Cornell sophomore did, but if she died because she just fell down in the snow and was too drunk to get up before she froze to death, that's just nuts.

I agree with you, lowering the drinking age is far more likely to help than any of the other hypothetical solutions. Unfortunately, it's a political landmine.

Old NFO said...

Sad story... and you are doing the right thing, being a productive member of society, and making progress toward your success!

Mike W. said...

I love the "stop building off-campus housing" as if people won't drink themselves to death in campus / dorm housing.

I've overindulged & spent time with the porcelain gods but I don't understand folks in their mid-late 20's and 30's who still drink like that on a regular basis.