A few weeks ago a mom posted on Facebook a terrifying story about a her 15 year old daughter's brush with death due to alcohol poisoning. I won't get into the details, I have copied it below and you can read it for yourself. But suffice it to say that her daughter's blood alcohol level was 2.8!!! At .08 a person is considered impaired, but at 2.8, it's a lucky to be alive story.
One of the most disturbing parts to this story, and there were many, was that her friends basically abandoned her. A student she barely knew was really the one who saved her life, and called for help.
In addition to this story, I recently had the opportunity to talk with a group of thirty-somethings. This group represented the best and the brightest back when they were teens, and are now very successful and amazing adults. I was telling them this story, and asking them whether this kind of thing happened during their teenage years. It was a resounding YES! And with all honesty and candor they told me that this outcome was not an uncommon one for their group of friends, and others they knew. They too said they left friends who were in a black out condition, worried that if they "told" they would get into trouble. They also said that most parents were completely in the dark. They explained that there were many close calls, but were able to keep if from parents by not sleeping at home. Some things never change, how unfortunate that as a culture we have yet to figure out to keeps kids safe.
I asked this group whether they thought there would have been anything their parents could have done differently back then to make them more aware of the dangers of binge drinking. Sadly, they could not think of a thing. I asked whether they had ever received information (like the kind I am going to offer below) by school, parents or other concerned adults. They said no. So that's where I'm starting, by giving you some very detailed facts about alcohol and how to care for someone who is incapacitated by alcohol. Your job is to share this information with your teen often. This is not a one and done kind of talk. This is anytime your kids leave the house and you suspect alcohol will be available. Write it down, post it somewhere where they see it, and repeat it over and over. It could save a life.
It is important to understand that it is not the bad kids, or the party kids, or the "fast crowd" that needs to be prepared. It is all kids. I know for sure that at some point during their middle, high school, and for sure college years, your teen will be in a situation where either they or a close friend will be compromised by too much alcohol. It can be the smart kids, the nerdy kids, the jocks, the quiet ones, and the shy ones. It may not be the kids who party every Friday and Saturday nights, but also the ones that stay in with close friends, who you absolutely least expect to binge. It can be any one's teen!
This information is in no way meant as a get of jail free card for drinking teens. You continue to preach sobriety but are realistic enough to know that the lecture will not stop the drinking. You can only do that by either keeping them locked in the house until they are 22 or teach them the tools they might need to keep themselves safe, and their friends safe.
- It is considered binge drinking when a male drinks 5 shots in a two hour period and a female drinks 4 shots. Consider 1 1/2 -2 ounces of alcohol a drink. Many kids use water bottles as a vodka carrier. Show your teen what this amount of alcohol looks like using a typical water bottle. Most kids drink hard and fast, thinking "oh I don't feel anything yet, I' need to drink more. Kids can easily down this amount of alcohol in under 2 hours. Remember they are not enjoying a relaxing cocktail, they are drinking to get wasted.
- Here is what happens to the body with this amount of alcohol:
- Alcohol depresses the frontal cortex of the brain, or the thinking brain, making people less inhibited (which is a definite goal for teens). This impacts the ability to make decisions, and affects all senses, making it difficult to make "sense" of what is going on to you and around you.
2. Dehydration. Alcohol is a diuretic. It makes you pee...a lot. And if you are not counteracting this with drinking water, brain damage, and passing out can result.
3. Alcohol decreases breathing by affecting the part of the nervous system that controls breathing. This causes death.
4. Alcohol lowers blood sugar and can cause seizures.
5. Alcohol affects the part of the brain, the cerebellum, that controls balance, and motor coordination. Hence the term, falling down drunk. This can cause terrible injury. If a party is interrupted by the police or watchful parents, you can often see teens running from the scene who are completely compromised in their movements and can fall and really hurt themselves.
6. Alcohol irritates the stomach which causes vomiting. Because of the alcohol, the normal gag reflex is disabled, and people can choke on their own vomit, aspirating into their lungs which is life threatening.
OK here's what they can do to help themselves stay safe or keep a friend safe who is drunk!
1. The obvious here is to call for help. Talk to your teen seriously about how it would feel to them to know that "If only" I had helped my friend, he/she would now be OK. Stress that NO ONE will be mad at them for potentially saving their friends life.
2. EAT!!!! Make sure your teen understands that having food in their body could save their life. Food slows down the absorption of alcohol. Many teens are drinking on empty stomachs, and do not eat when they are out.
3. Drink water and space out the drinking.
4. If a friend is obviously drunk, tell them to keep them in a sitting position, and give them water until help comes. If they are passed out, make sure they are lying on their side.
5. Check the friends breathing, is it regular and strong, or weak.
6. Keep them warm. Alcohol poisoning causes body temperature to drop. Remember, many kids party outside!.
I know this is some scary s**t!! And this feels like a mixed message, which it is. On the one hand you are saying, no drinking!!!! and on the other, here's what I want you to know. In no way are you giving them permission, but you are realistically trying to keep them safe. You love them, and you would be devastated if anything ever happened to them. Remember, this may have already happened to your teen or a friend of theirs, and you just don't know about it. Remember that teens are highly motivated to keep you out of their life especially when they know they are doing something you don't want them to do. This is just about safety...pure and simple
A Mother's Story
PLEASE READ,SHARE, AND SPREAD AWARENESS!!!!
This past Saturday night my 15 year old daughter asked me to sleep at a friends house and go to the movies. I said yes. She has always been very good about communicating with me and checking in with me. But her plans changed that night and the series of events that followed are nothing that any family should have to experience....I received a fb message at 100am saying someone had received a phone call saying that my daughter Ryleigh Payton was somewhere passed out. Immediately my heart sank and I tried to call her phone repeatedly and of course there was no answer. I questioned who, where, when, why's...and received no answer back because that girl was already in route of finding the girl who called her and my daughter, picked them up and brought them to my driveway. As I opened the car door to see my daughter, lifeless and foaming at the mouth covered in vomit 911 was on their way. Ambulance arrived on seen and she was unresponsive, since we didn't have many details except she had been drinking vodka we weren't sure if she was given or taken anything else so she was given Narcane 4 time only to still fall unresponsive. Transported to Heywood where there was no change we were told my daughters airway was not strong enough and she would need to be interbated and transferred immediately to Umass. While arriving there the doctors informed us my daughter was No longer breathing on her own at all. I suffered 14 long hours pleading and begging for my daughters life, experiencing flashbacks from the moment she was born, to her first smile and giggle, the first time she said Mumma, her first step, her 1st birthday, her first day of school, her first friendship,sleepover, sickness, her graduation of middle school, our private mother daughter moments, laughing, joking, running, snuggling and so forth, I was thinking of her siblings and what losing her would do to them and the rest of her family and all of the people that love her. My daughter was with a group of teens, I'm sure as the started to notice some signs that Ryleigh was not okay panic started to set in, they thought they would get in trouble if they tried to get help so they left her there....only 1 girl who was not even her friend but an acquaintance stayed with her, trying to find a way to get my information and she succeeded. She didn't care about getting in trouble herself, she wanted to get her the help she so desperately needed, the other kids who left her I'm sure we're scared and didn't realize the severity of her condition at the time so I'm sharing our experience so that EVERY TEEN who may come to be in this situation knows....you will NOT get in trouble for getting someone help!!!! You have the ability to SAVE a precious life!!!!! So please reach out and get help no matter what the circumstances. That one girl SAVED my daughters life by contacting someone who could get ahold of me and if it were not for her the reality of it is I would be burying my daughter this week. PARENTS share this with your children so they see the dangers of under aged drinking and what it can do!!! After 14 hours my beautiful daughter finally by the grace of God opened her big beautiful green eyes to see her Mumma and asked for her sister Courtney Ackles and we are on our way to a long recovery due to breathing issues, bodily injury from her repeatedly falling while intoxicated, lacerations to her eye, and the worry she doesn't develop a pneumonia from vomit being in her lungs, so we are not fully out of the woods yet, but she is home,safe and as comfortable as she can be right now. Thank you to all who have stood by my family in this time, saying prayers, helping my other kids and husband while I was at the hospital, we are blessed. Please share this to prevent another child from going through this and another parent to endure what I have. My 92lb child had a 2.8 blood alcohol level from drinking Ciroc the typical Vodka of choice among young teens these days. Don't ever think this couldn't happen to you because it is very real and it's everywhere!!! Our pictures of her may be disturbing to some but our hopes are in sharing our pain we may be able to PREVENT AND SAVE ANOTHER CHILD!!! SHARE OUR STORY!!!