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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

North Putnam students and parents hear about dangers of binge drinking

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

(Photo)
North Putnam High School held a presentation on Monday, which involved State Sen. Jim Merritt (left), Indiana University student Patrick Courtney, Dawn and Norm Finbloom. Among the topics were the Indiana Lifeline Law and the dangers of drugs and alcohol. Not pictured is Putnam Circuit Court Judge Matt Headley.
North Putnam parents and students received the message loud and clear as Carmel parents Norm and Dawn Finbloom held both a student assembly and evening program to talk about their son, whom they lost to alcohol poisoning last summer. Putnam Circuit Court Judge Matt Headley, Indiana University student Patrick Courtney and Indiana Senator Jim Merritt also spoke.

According to current studies, the average age for one's first use of alcohol is 13 years old. In the state of Indiana it is estimated that by eighth-grade students 16.5 percent of students drink on a monthly basis, this number is just 9 percent at North Putnam. By the ninth grade the state sees a jump of 22.4 percent using with North Putnam at 21 percent. By senior year this number is nearly 30 percent at both North Putnam and in the state.

"It's a problem. It exists with us everywhere. It goes on all the time" said Principal Alan Zerkel. "It's an administrator's nightmare. We worry about our students. I'm someone that's worked with these students for many years. These students mean a lot to me."

Starting off the guest speakers was student Patrick Courtney, who is a senior at Indiana University, the vice president of the student body and a Sigma Chi member.

Courtney began his presentation by touching on the Lifeline Law, which the Indiana University Student Government helped pass. The Lifeline Law is a law, which allows one to call for emergency help for someone while getting immunity.

"You want to save someone's life," explained Courtney. "We want the decision to call for help to be easy. You need to look out for yourself and others."

Underage drinking has become an increasingly popular thing not only on the college level but high school and even younger. A delay in calling for help could have serious consequences as it did for the Finblooms' son.

"That shouldn't be what you go out to do on the weekends (getting drunk)," explained Courtney. "That shouldn't be No. 1 priority. Think twice and then act. These pressures don't get easier as you move forward."

Speaking to students was the advice Courtney offered for parents. Drinking has become the norm for many and it's never too soon to talk about the subject.

(Photo)
After the program Dustin Osborn (left) talked with State Sen. Jim Merritt and Indiana University student Patrick Courtney about underage drinking.
Headley offered similar advice during his portion of the discussion, stating that drinking is only one of the problems youth are facing today.

"Everyone has made a mistake in their life. Most parents are trying the best they can," Headley said. "Kids these days all they want to do is illegal drugs and drink."

Headley went on to say that it is a fact that more than half of the student body will have tried marijuana by the time they graduate high school and nearly 40 percent of the student body have had an illegal beverage within the last 30 days.

"Prescription drugs are bigger right now," Headley said. "They're getting them from their own house. Obviously there's a huge disconnect (between students and parents)."

Headley also stated that over 50 percent of cases that come through his office involve a primary charge of a drunk or drinking-related offense. There were also 54 reported cases in 2012 of those under 21 being admitted to the Putnam County Hospital for something drinking related.

"We're doing what we can. Don't think that it doesn't happen right here," Headley said. "You need to talk to your kids and be vigilant. Tell them no. Keep your medicines under lock and key. Throw away the ones you don't need and don't have too much alcohol in the house."

To the parents, he said to be a good example and set the bar high. To those who may think that it won't happen to your kid, it can.

Merritt, who co-authored the Lifeline Law, had similar advice to offer to both parents and students. However, expanded on the Lifeline Law.

"If someone you're with has consumed too much, one can call the first-responders without having to face consequences," Merrit stated. "I encourage you all to talk to your kids. Students, just think about your parents lowering you into the ground. Their lives are marked forever. Everyone makes mistakes. We just need to make sure we make good choices."

Beginning Norm and Dawn's discussion on their son a new story was shown documenting his story and his funeral. Their son, Brett was just 18 years old and was about to leave to attend the University of Oklahoma.

On Aug. 2, 2012 Brett went to a friend's house to say his goodbyes. He ended up drinking too much and dying of alcohol poisoning.

"I'm sure Brett felt that alcohol poisoning couldn't happen to him," said Norm. "We strongly believe that if the kids that were there would have called 911 right away, he'd still be alive."

Both Norm and Dawn had one clear message, to make good decisions and choose to live.

Norm advised parents to talk with their kids. He advised students to be a friend and intervene before it turns into a medical emergency and that if someone is passed out do not just lay them down and have them sleep it off.

"We don't want any teen to need a lifeline," said Dawn. "Discuss with your teen that passing out is never normal. We parents really need to work together."

With tears in her eyes Dawn spoke about her son. She spoke of the phone call in the middle of the night when she found out her son was being transported to the hospital and things weren't looking good. Although, they were able to revive his heart, he was in a coma. Later, they found out he had no brain activity.

She spoke about Brett being a scholar athlete, the Facebook post his sister made on his wall on his birthday and the pain that will last forever.

"The impact that death has is something most don't think about," explained Dawn. "The pain is forever and will never go away. I can't blieve that it's true."

As she ended her presentation she looked toward a section of students, telling them to not try to play doctor if you think there is a medical emergency. Don't ever hesitate to call.

"Alcohol makes smart people stupid," Dawn said.


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Let's hope the parents and students in attendance were truly listening to the message these speakers were delivering, and that parents and students alike will take the message to heart and make good choices in the future. I always told my children nothing good ever comes from drinking, whether you're a teenager doing it illegally or an adult who drinks legally, but drinks too much. My heart goes out to the parents of the young man whose life was needlessly cut short last summer. This is one wound that time will never heal for his entire family. May God bless them all.

-- Posted by kamare on Wed, Feb 6, 2013, at 9:28 AM


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