Using Dr Ford’s story to talk about teen drinking

Did you drink as a teen?


I expect most of us did.  What Dr. Ford described is super common.  Many teens drink together and drink too much.  It’s a problem everywhere, especially for the affluent.  Kids with money can get alcohol and drugs.


I’d like to share two stories of young people getting wasted, which you can add to Dr. Ford’s.  The point being, it’s literally unsafe to be experimenting with drugs and alcohol.  It’s so important that a sober adult is available, ready to assist if needed.


Story #1:


There was a tragedy at the first high school in which I taught.  A teen boy and his friends paid off a homeless man to buy them liquor.  They took it into the woods, built a bonfire, and had a wild time.


This white, upper class, 16 year old boy, this honors student and athlete at an elite private prep school, passed out drunk and rolled into the fire.


His friends were equally drunk and didn’t notice.   By the time they pulled him out, his jacket had melted to his skin.


For months, they weren’t sure he’d live.  Without the experts and equipment at the burn trauma center, he certainly would have died, because he’d lost most of his skin.


This happened in the fall.  We didn’t see him back at school until that spring.  After many skin grafts and reconstructive surgeries, he came back to school wearing a clear mask over his face to protect the new skin.


He’s lucky to be alive, and he’ll never look normal.  He’s literally scarred for life.


Story #2:


I was in my 20’s when I first got high.  My boyfriend and his friends enjoyed marijuana, and I decided to have a pot brownie.


I warily asked how much I should try and followed their advice.  It was wayyyy too much.


I remember having a hard time thinking and talking.  I remember going outside and thinking it’s a beautiful night – too bad I’m not going to remember it…and that’s it.


I have no memory of the next 6 hours.  For the rest of the party, I was conscious, moving, talking, interacting.  I have no idea what we did.


I’m lucky nothing happened, because I was not able to look out for myself.



Now you have these two stories.  You also have Dr. Ford’s story, and the Stanford rape case.  Maybe you have your own story.


Here’s what I’ll tell my child:


There must be a mature and sober person available to take care of you when you’re experimenting with drugs and alcohol.  Because, when you experiment, you don’t know what might happen – for real.


Beyond that, mixing sex with drugs and alcohol is begging for trouble.  You have to really know what sex with your partner is like, and really know yourself on alcohol, and really know your partner on alcohol, before you can mix all these variables and expect it to go well.


Mixing substances and sex is not teen-aged JV-level fun.  That’s grown up, Varsity-level sex…and even then it goes wonky.


Consent seems so simple, and it is so simple.  You’d expect people to be able to navigate consent, even when they aren’t sober.  But when people mess with the only equipment they have for assessing consent, their brains, the outcome is unpredictable.


As we navigate these conversations with our kids, as we talk about the Kavanaugh hearing, please make it a point to talk about drinking, blacking out, and memory loss.  Because even though I hardly addressed these at all in my blog on how to talk about the Kavanaugh hearings, there are tragedies to be prevented.


We’ll keep exploring the conversations to be had from these hearings.  There’s so much to say!  So much nuance to explore.  I’m right here in it with you, so don’t hesitate to reach out.


In support of you,




P.S. Looking for a little extra self-care (or a lot!)?  The Womb Wellness Summit is underway, and it’s an excellent way to come together and celebrate women.  Join us!

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