Pubdate: Tue, 28 May 2002
Source: Times Daily (AL)
Copyright: 2002 Times Daily
Author: Lisa Singleton-Rickman


As I drove back to my office last Monday night from a deeply troubling 
program I'd just seen at Deshler High School, it occurred to me that my 
"I-can't-believe-what-I'm-seeing" attitude was likely shared by everyone in 
the audience.

For more than an hour, the audience was spellbound, watching footage of 
true Alabama drug overdose cases.

All teen-agers. No special effects. Just real-life drug use and the corpses 
left behind.

"Disgusting" was the word one teen-age girl in the audience grunted 
repeatedly. But it is the kind of disgust we all need to see.

Operation Save Teens is a presentation of the Alabama Beverage Control 
Board office.

Scare tactics for kids? It was for this nearly 35-year-old mother of two.

Throughout the presentation, I found my mind asking the same question again 
and again - "What if this were my child?"

What if my daughter made a stupid, snap decision uncharacteristic of her 
usual actions and took one tiny tablet of Ecstasy at the urging of a 
so-called friend.

What if she then went into a coma and, shortly thereafter, died as a result 
of a one-time lapse in judgment?

ABC agent Mike Reese's priority is reaching teen-agers long before they get 
into trouble.

The Gadsden agent's passion for keeping kids alive is evident. He's 
plain-spoken and to the point. His concerns motivate him to travel the 
state with this powerful message.

Monday night was the second time I'd seen the presentation. The first time 
was a couple of weeks earlier at Wilson School in Lauderdale County. Reese 
told the audience at the Deshler high presentation that he received 10 
e-mails from kids at that school after his presentation. He knows he's 
making a difference.

"Do you think I enjoy standing here showing you photos of all these dead 
young people," he asked. "It's what I'm seeing way too much of, and it has 
to stop. I knew a lot of these kids, and you parents don't think for a 
second that these are bad kids on this screen. They're kids just like yours."

For the better part of 13 years, I've reported on drug and alcohol abuse 
informational programs. I've seen about everything that has come through 
north Alabama.

But never has a program had such a chilling effect. I'm more determined 
now, as a mother, as an education writer who is frequently in schools and 
as a high school Sunday school teacher to share facts and statistics I've 

I'm certainly no expert on the date-rape drug GHB, more commonly referred 
to as simply "G." And I couldn't begin to tell you why OxyContin is 
perfectly safe used under a doctor's supervision for medicinal purposes, 
yet, for the past few years, has been a top killer of teens who obtain it 
illegally then abuse it right into mortality.

I didn't realize until Reese showed me on film how violently the human body 
reacts to these drugs -- fighting valiantly to save you during an overdose 
by trying to force the toxins out. I've learned a lot.

The turnout at the Deshler auditorium was poor. I was disappointed because 
I personally urged at least 50 people to attend. I understand people are 
busy at 6:30 p.m. on a Monday night.

I guess it's about priority.

Was his presentation something to look forward to seeing? Definitely not.

The bigger question is can you afford not to have this information?

My answer is no. 
- ---
MAP posted-by: Keith Brilhart