Video Game Has Good Alcohol Awareness Message for Kids!

It is not too often that you hear adults espousing the benefits of playing a video game. It is less frequent to hear educators not only condone but promote the playing of video games in the classroom. But that is just what is happening at various schools around the country with a video game that promotes alcohol awareness in a positive light.

Making Smart Choices

The activity was part of the, “Ask, Listen, Learn: Kids and Alcohol Don't Mix” initiative, which encourages middle school students to talk with their parents and other role models about the perils of underage drinking.

Instead of killing terrorists or racing cars this game discusses the dangers of underage drinking and promotes helping the children make healthy choices!

The Game

Like using a Wii, students tapped their feet on a pad to make onscreen characters run and jump along a seaside path or down a supermarket aisle. The quicker they tapped, the faster they ran in the game.

At frequent intervals, the game would stop them to ask a variety of true-or-false questions, including whether drinking was cool, if booze boosts athleticism or helps grades and whether it was OK to say “no” to peer pressure.

Any game that promotes communication and education about alcohol is a good thing. Hopefully, this will become a nationwide program. It's a good alternative to minor in possession classes!

What Does a Fatal DUI Get You?

For those of you who drink and drive and for those of us who have many times in our past we always think of worst-case scenarios. Worst case is always death! It is your own death, the death of your passengers or the death of any person involved in an accident where you were driving under the influence.

A textbook case for this just came down last week when 24-year-old Michael Albers of Zion, Illinois was sentenced in a fatal accident when he was totally drunk. Albers was able to cop a plea by agreeing to plea guilty and was sentenced to 10 years in prison after he took the life of 22-year-old Danielle Trevithick when his SUV slammed into her vehicle in a head-on-collision.

Stupidity Compounded

When you hear all the details you really don’t want this guy to get off so easily. Not only was he totally blasted, with a BAC of .192, but he was driving 86 mph in a 40 mph zone. Albers was driving on a suspended license at the time.

If that wasn’t enough, Albers has an extensive criminal history dating back to 2003. He was issued multiple citations for driving on a suspended driver’s license, domestic battery, possession of a controlled substance and consumption of alcohol by a minor.

Under the plea Albers must serve at least 8.5 years before he is eligible for parole. There went his 20s!

“I don’t know how someone with a brain would use it in such a bad way,” the judge said in sentencing him.

Well said, Your Honor!

Will Lindsay Lohan Ever Recover From Alcohol Addiction?

Addictions are difficult to break. Our brains are extremely powerful and once our mind s and bodies are addicted to something like drugs or alcohol, stopping is a hard to do. Even the most expensive rehabilitation centers have trouble getting addicts to quit.

As a counselor for alcohol awareness classes I can tell you that in order to stop addictive behavior you have to want to quit. Young Hollywood stars are bombarded with unimaginable wealth and an equal amount of opportunity to indulge in drugs and alcohol.

Lindsay Lohan is a poster child for “Hollywood Run Amok.” Lohan was in court again this week. The most current issue – she tested positive for alcohol while on probation.

Lohan is a Cat

Ms. Lohan must have been a feline in a past lifetime as she seems to have nine lives. The rules of her probation were straightforward – no drinking and no parties! Yet, she tested positive back on June 13th after a party in her home. She is currently serving a jail term for shoplifting and is under house arrest until June 29th.

So how could the judge not consider this a violation of her probation?

Judge Stephanie Sautner told Lohan on Thursday that she was guilty of "poor judgment" but that she did not think the actress violated her probation by testing positive for alcohol during the recent test. Sautner said it was unclear whether the actress must still refrain from drinking for her probation to remain intact and added that Lohan could not have any parties at home.

She had better be careful because her behavior and raucous parties have drawn the ire of her neighbors. While the LAPD may not have enough manpower to watch her 24-7, her angry neighbors are more than willing to “drop a dime” on her whenever she steps out of line. If it’s not the neighbors, it will be the paparazzi!

It all begs to question whether Lohan will ever recover from her addictions. Will she become a success story like Robert Downey, Jr., or a tragic story like River Phoenix?

Once an Jackass, Always A Jackass

I have to admit to having liked the MTV television show “Jackass.” The crazy stunts performed by the members of this groundbreaking show which has spawned an unearthly number of imitators was downright crazy, but usually made me laugh.

Of all shows ever created, perhaps no title better suits a show than “Jackass.” Johnny Knoxville and Bam Margera are extremely talented individuals, even if they have a screw loose.

Death of a Jackass

It was with sadness, yet not surprise that I learned of the recent death of “Jackass” alum Ryan Dunn. With numerous funny skits like “Party Boy” Dunn was one of my favorite “Jackass” performers.

If his death in a fiery auto accident came as no surprise, you can imagine how not surprised I was to find out that he was drunk and speeding. Hmm, lots of alcohol, a Porsche and high speeds – a perfect recipe for the death of a true Jackass!

Reports from the scene say that the 34-year-old Dunn and his companion, Zachary Hartwell, 30, were travelling more than 132 miles per hour in a 55 mph zone. His 2007 Porsche soared more than 40 yards through the woods before hitting a tree and bursting into flames. His blood alcohol concentration was 0.196.

Another not-so-big surprise was the news that Dunn had received 23 driving violations in the past 13 years, including 10 speeding tickets and one DUI!

I wonder how long it will be before another “Jackass” follows Dunn to heaven.

College World Series is Great Family Day (No Alcohol)

Sports is one of America's favorite pastimes.  Baseball is the quintessential American pastime. Taking your child to a baseball game is as American as apple pie and Norman Rockwell paintings. Too often, however, taking your kid to a game you subject yourselves to a litany of profanity, vulgarity and whatnot you certainly do not want to be around.

For the first time in my life I find myself in Omaha, Nebraska at the time of the NCAA College Baseball World Series.  What an amazing atmosphere!

The Omaha residents are ever-so-friendly and the fans are the epitome of what good-natured sports competition is all about.  Everyone is decked out in gear for their favorite team.  If they are not decked out, you can figure they are locals just here to see some great baseball. 

You might be asking yourselves why this rates as fodder for an alcohol awareness blog.  Well, I think alcohol is central to this event.  The reason - they do not sell it at the stadium!

The newly-opened TD Ameritrade Park is a gem of a ballpark and does not sell alcohol during the CWS.  It was quite refreshing to look around and see everyone drinking bottles water and soda.  The sober crowd was so affable that everyone sitting around us all made friends.

The lack of alcohol keeps everyone on an even and helps curb even the most vociferous of fans.  Not once did I hear profanity, nor hear loud fans bashing the other team.  It creates a healthy atmosphere for all involved.

If you ever get a chance to come out to Omaha for this event I would highly recommend it!

Roll up the Beer Truck

The first time I ever bought alcohol myself – directly from a vendor – was a from a pizza delivery guy. He could have cared less about what age I was. Especially when I gave him a $20 and told him to keep the change. That was the easiest 12-pack of beer I ever bought as a minor.

Don’t read me wrong – what I did and what the pizza delivery guy did was wrong, but it was just too easy. He was just a couple of years older than me and my friend. While not the reason I eventually became an alcoholic, it was the ease of obtaining alcohol at a young age that paved the way to my eventual problem with booze.

Legalizing Alcohol Delivery for Minors?

That is why a bill on the books in Prince George County, Maryland has me especially perturbed. The bill would allow liquor stores to deliver alcohol to the homes of their customers.

What sits in the middle of this Prince George County – the University of Maryland in College Park! If alcohol wasn’t already so readily available to college students this would make it just a little easier.

Here is the irony (at least for me) - liquor stores are saying they should be able to deliver alcohol to its customers because pizza delivery firms already do so! As the saying goes – “just say no”!!!

Celebrity DUI – Part 3

I have written before (part 1 and part 2) about celebrities and whether or not they should be role models. The number of young Hollywood actors, musicians and athletes that skyrocket to stardom are too numerous to count.  As they rise, so too does their presence in society. Children and adults look up to them, often trying to emulate everything from their style of dress to the cars they drive to their behavior.

Often with stardom comes stress and pressure these individuals never sought, nor can they cope with. It doesn’t take much for public perception to change in a heartbeat, and when it does, the stars come crashing back to Earth!

Nolte is Naughty

One star who has never quite been able to reach the pinnacle of stardom is Nick Nolte. This irascible actor is known for playing likable characters as in films such as “48 Hours”, “Down and Out in Beverly Hills” and “The Prince of Tides”.

He also is known for having what is perhaps the most embarrassing Dui arrest photo ever taken of a Hollywood star.  Back on September 11, 2002 Los Angeles Police pulled Nolte over and described him as “drooling” and “out of it”. After pleading no contest he paid a $500 fine and underwent a 90-day alcohol treatment.

The moral of this celebrity story reads like all others – celebrities are human just like the rest of us. There is no reason to emulate their behavior – especially if it is bad!

NBA Alcohol Abuse Again

It seems like you can’t swing a stick anymore without hitting a Hollywood celebrity or sports star who is getting busted for an alcohol offense. The most recent culprit – Dallas Mavericks guard DeShawn Stevenson.

All of the Mavericks have had a great reason to celebrate as they just knocked off the vaunted Miami Heat in game 6 to win the NBA Championship.  Stevenson partied just a little bit too hard. 

Where am I?

He was arrested Tuesday nights after police received numerous reports of an intoxicated person walking through their apartment complex. The 30-year-old Stevenson was so drunk he had no idea where he was when police arrested him in suburban Dallas.

He was released from jail Wednesday morning after posting bail. Stevenson will be a free agent this summer.

A 10-year veteran, Stevenson played a key role for the Mavericks as they won their first NBA title against Miami. He started every playoff game until the final three of the finals. Coming off the bench, he provided tenacious defense and outside scoring as Dallas won each of those games.

“Colorful Person” – All Over!

In the clinching Game 6, Stevenson made three 3-pointers during a pivotal stretch in the first half. He also was in the middle of a skirmish that resulted in three technical fouls, one on him and two against the Heat.

Stevenson is a colorful character, perhaps best known for tattoos covering nearly his entire body, including his face and neck. He’s also often made provocative comments about LeBron James, such as saying he “checked out” late in Game 4.

Folks, there is no good reason to drink that much. Only bad outcomes can happen when you do. Just ask DeShawn Stevenson – if you can find him.

History of the DUI

As a counselor both classroom and online alcohol awareness classes one subject that invariably comes up is the history of the infraction of driving under the influence, known better as DUI. This is one issue where almost all of the statistics raised are fairly current. This article will address the history of the DUI penalty and hopefully make you look at the infraction from a different vantage point.

Those Darn Cabbies!

The first DUI person ever arrested for drunken driving was a 25-year-old London cab driver named George Smith. What year do you think this happened? The year was 1897, twelve years before Henry Ford invented the Model-T! Smith was arrested after crashing his cab into an office building. His punishment for a guilty plea – 25 shillings. That’s about 90 British Pounds today.

New York Drivers

The first DUI laws enacted in the United States were of course in New York. Last year New York celebrated their 100th Anniversary of the first DUI arrest. New Yorkers have had a reputation for their driving for more than a century!

Technology Paves the Way

Obviously the early DUI arrests were based on laws that absolutely prohibited operating a vehicle under the influence of any alcohol. They had no way to measure BAC at the time.

All that changed in 1936 with the invention of the “Drunkometer”. This was a balloon-like device that people blew into to determine their level of inebriation. It was a surprisingly accurate device – when calibrated properly.

Seventeen years later one of the inventors of the Drunkometer designed a more user-friendly device called the breathalyzer. Yes, the same device, more or less, that we still use almost 60 years later!

DUI Revved up by the 1970s

The first real attempts to establish DUI laws took place in the “Age of Freedom” – the 1970s.  Armed with the technology to measure BAC and active social groups, the dangers of drinking and driving took front and center stage.  In 1980, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) was founded and its efforts, combined with Students Against Drunk Driving (SADD) continued to efforts to educate Congress and the public on the dangers of driving after consuming alcohol.

DUI Still A Problem

While DUI is still a major problem in society, it is not for lack of publicity. It is estimated that almost 2 million Americans will be cited in 2011 for DUI. The word is getting out there. Courts in addition to fines and punishment are also doing what the system was originally designed for – correctional and rehabilitation purposes.

Most courts make even first-time offenders the opportunity to take an alcohol awareness class.  With knowledge comes power, and the obvious goal is to educate drivers so that they stop their DUI behavior.

Hopefully, through technology and educational programs we can turn the tide and curb this problem. Remember that alcohol is a drug, and a dangerous one at that. If you or anyone you know has exhibited DUI behavior, I urge you to seek help as soon as possible. There are support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous and Al-Anon, and if you prefer to maintain your anonymity there are online alcohol awareness courses as well.

Alcohol Awareness at the Movies?

Remember the good old days when you could go to the movies, get a tub of popcorn and have a nice cold beer while watching a movie?  You don’t - neither do I.  And while beer at a ballgame seems OK, at a movie theater it just seems strange – and completely unnecessary.

What Are They Thinking?

In the state of Wisconsin this could change. Placed, or hidden, deep within the “budget, repair bill” was an item that would legalize the sale of beer and wine in movie theaters. Do legislators really think enough alcohol will be sold to “repair” their budget?  Or were they trying to sneak a line item into a much larger bill?

Keep the Safe Haven

Either way, they are getting much more than they bargained for.  Some citizens are up in arms.  The director of a local substance abuse resource center claims that movie theaters are the last safe haven for recovering alcoholics. 

As a member of this group of recovering alcoholics I remember watching many movies, chewing on hundreds of straws during the early months of sobriety.  But even during all my periods of drinking I did not feel the need to keep drinking once in the theater. I will admit to having drank before going to the cinema, but no need once I was inside.

In addition to being a safe haven for recovering alcoholics, cinemas place small children in close proximity to adult drinkers.  It could be argued that it is the same at ballparks around the country, but I disagree.  Ballparks are outdoors and much larger, wide, open spaces.  It’s just one opinion, but I would like to see them keep booze out of movie theaters!