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Final Episode of 'ER' is True to Life

by Sue Hubbard, M.D.

I am like millions of people, writing this and watching the finale of ER. One of the story lines was about a teenager who was admitted with alcohol poisoning. The fifteen-year-old had been participating in a drinking game with vodka and Kool-aid and was brought to the ER in a coma, near death and with a blood alcohol level off the charts! One of the reasons that ER has been one of the most watched shows in history is due to the fact that the writers have always had realistic story lines and unfortunately they are addressing a very prevalent adolescent issue.

Binge drinking is on the rise and over 1,700 kids adolescents die each year secondary to alcohol. The problem had been more prevalent among college kids but there are more kids now drinking at younger ages and they do not understand that alcohol can kill you. In this story on ER not only had the girls been drinking while at a slumber party, the parents had provided the alcohol, “as kids will drink anyway and we would rather they drink at home”. How do parents of teenagers condone alcohol use in underage adolescents while they are watching?

The idea that this is “OK” is foreign to me. I know that you cannot police kids at all times, and that kids are clever and ingenious when it comes to underage drinking, but to provide the alcohol and stand by and watch inherently wrong, and against the law.

Teaching our children about binge drinking is the responsibility of every parent and the discussion needs to begin even in middle school. We talk to our children about the risks of drinking and driving, but they need to know about dying from drinking. A good source of information is from The Gordie Foundation, a foundation that was set up by a friend of mine who’s son died after a night of binge drinking as a freshman in college. They have channeled their grief into teaching other children about binge drinking. Go to their Web site and then watch the movie HAZE, and learn about binge drinking among our youth. After watching the movie, watch it again with your teens and talk about the reality of binge drinking.

The ER television story is compelling, but the real ER cases are tragic.

That’s your daily dose, we’ll chat again soon.

More Information: The Gordie Foundation

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