2/24/21: Getting Real About Drug And Alcohol Campaigns

Got the awful news yesterday that my friends & I from college lost a fraternity brother…a guy who was one class ahead of mine/graduated a yr earlier.

Details shared are often fuzzy when you get the new of someone’s passing, you haven’t heard from in a while. Most of the guys in classes older than ours who my core group still stays in touch w, had lost touch w “Rob” as well recently. So, the news of his loss, literally came out of nowhere. All we know is that he’d been in a bad car accident a bit ago, had been struggling w the physical/emotional pain, had been drinking a lot, & his passing involved alcohol in some way.

Rob was a wrestler at Cornell. Short guy, stocky, always let you know he’d be able to take you to the ground no matter your size relative to him. He was a pretty typical “frat guy.”  Etched in my mind is him carrying arnd a cup all the time bc he chewed tobacco religiously, & often a beer in the other hand.

Reflecting back w a few of the guys his yr, yesterday, they’d revealed to me- his mom had struggled w alcohol for some time, as had Rob, not only in school, but after graduation as well. 

Here’s my sadness/remorse, reflecting back: to us as “kids” in college – Rob was just like anyone else. He was a dude…played sports…always had that cup/beer in his hand.  That “character” is someone we see hundreds of ppl over, in every group of upperclassmen in HS, in college, even out of college. And we don’t pay it much attention or address it. It’s just “who they are/their character.”

In K-12, as far back as I can remember, we had MADD & DARE programs come in, w someone in a suit, or a uniform, & they educated us on what drugs & alcohol were…& to “just say no.” They used terms like amphetamines. NONE of it was relatable in a genuine, personable, real -life, let’s talk abt WHY ppl turn to drugs & alcohol type of way. No talk of escaping pain from life.

I think bc it’s presented to kids this septic way, an almost counter-culture has been created to fill the void bc of how the msg falls short. Drugs/alcohol become part of “that guy/girl” – the “character” they play in their friends group.  We don’t ask questions. We don’t dive deep w them, we don’t ask how they are doing.  They just appear to be the guy/girl who socializes & carriers around the beer all the time & rips bong hits each night w friends in the room.  May sound crass but you all had/have ppl in your lives like this as kids. Looking back, I’m so sorry I didn’t know then (when we all lived on the same campus & ate at the same house), what I do now. Makes me feel empty that maybe I could’ve asked more how Rob was doing, & helped him find a healthier path. 

Hopefully we as a society can address the drug/alcohol epidemic in a more sincere & REAL way. These sad stories need to be told or nothing changes. RIP brother Rob.

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