Alcohol is just another drug [Letter]

June 10, 2014

We noted an important connection between two separate articles that appeared in the June 4 issue of The Sun. In the article regarding hazing among Towson University cheerleaders ("Towson U. hazing details released"), we read that according to investigators, "the women were told they had a choice of doing cocaine or heroin, to test their understanding of team rules. Although no drugs were provided, this was done to let the new members [on the cheerleading team] know that the team was drug free, investigators wrote. The new cheerleaders were (then) given the choice to funnel beer or take a shot of alcohol, and all the women obliged, according to the investigation."

And then this in an article regarding a drunk driving incident involving a midshipman in the U.S. Naval Academy ("Midshipman was drinking before fatal crash"): "A midshipman who crashed his SUV into a creek and drowned in February had been drinking in an Annapolis bar earlier that night, a Naval Academy investigation found."

In the United States, alcohol use kills or destroys more lives than all other supposedly "real drugs" combined. Yet as a culture we continue to think and communicate as if "drugs" and "alcohol" are not one and the same.

At our school, we work hard to undo this dangerous set of assumptions that in effect normalizes and indirectly encourages underage drinking and also drinking to excess. We have found that even a simple and consistent change in phrasing, from "alcohol and drugs" to "alcohol and other drugs" — or "AOD" — goes a long way in changing the mindsets of young people and adults around these issues.

Zella Adams, Jan Brant, Krista Dhruv, Debbie Roffman and Dave Tracey, Brooklandville

The writers are all members of the Health Team at The Park School of Baltimore.

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