Pubdate: Mon, 16 May 2005
Source: Capital Times, The  (WI)
Copyright: 2005 The Capital Times
Author: Henry Steinberger


I respect the grief Sarah Stellner's parents are going through (Rob
Zaleski's column) but I need to address some of the things mentioned
in the article.

Sarah's mother, Cindy, says: "We knew she was partying, of course,
because 95 percent of the college kids in Madison do that." The false
perception that everyone is doing it has been found to actually
promote heavy and binge drinking among college students, and campaigns
to correct this misperception have actually led to reduced drinking,
as noted in your newspaper in a 2003 article. The truth is that most
people and students vastly overestimate the amount of risky drinking
going on and so promote more risky drinking.

Also, it would be useful for everyone who might "experiment" with
drugs to know that mixing sedating drugs like heroin with alcohol can
be a lethal mixture. Heroin can be very dangerous because you never
know how much actual heroin is in the bag and what poison it might be
cut with. Pure heroin might lead to an overdose, but cut with
something that is dangerous can also be lethal. Tracking down the
sources of the heroin will remove one source, but spreading the
knowledge that downers don't mix could save many lives.

Finally, contrary to a comment made by Lt. Sandy Theune of the Dane
County Drug Task Force, marijuana has never been lethal in any
quantity, but too much alcohol or alcohol mixed with opiates like
heroin or tranquilizers regularly proves lethal.

We might never convince all kids not to experiment, but we can at
least warn them that legal drugs like alcohol and cigarettes are
actually the most addictive, dangerous and lethal, and no, not
everyone, not even most everyone, is doing it.

Henry Steinberger psychologist

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