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Amy: Teen alcohol parties are 'risky business'

  • Article by: AMY DICKINSON
  • September 16, 2013 - 3:16 PM

Dear Amy: I’m 17 years old and have a twin brother.

Recently my parents went out of town, and my brother wanted to throw a party. I didn’t want to be there because I had plans in the morning, but I decided to stay up to make sure nothing got out of hand.

At 11 p.m. someone brought an incredible quantity of alcohol and 20 guests showed up. They all began to drink heavily, and soon someone was feeling sick and wanted to go home.

I drove her home (I was the only sober person there). When I returned, the place was a nightmare. Everyone, including my brother, was drunk. People were vomiting, there was broken glass on the floor and someone had cut his foot and was bleeding heavily.

I almost called 911, but a sober friend showed up and persuaded me not to. Finally, the guests and my friend fell asleep, but I stayed up all night checking on each one. I am certain one person would have died had I not done this. In the morning I drove them all home while my brother cleaned up, and I have felt guilty and angry at him ever since. He tells me I am being dramatic and should forgive him.

Amy says: You should forgive your twin — but the route to forgiveness is smoothest when it is paved with an acknowledgment someone has erred, along with a request to be forgiven. Has your brother done either of these things?

You sound amazingly responsible. But this is an extreme note of caution for you and other young people. If you are in a situation where you think to yourself, “I wonder if I should call 911,” call 911. Do it.

Alcohol is an extremely dangerous drug, and an overdose can kill you. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2010, there were approximately 189,000 emergency rooms visits by people younger than 21 for injuries and other conditions linked to alcohol. Alcohol use accounted for 4,700 deaths in underage drinkers.

In addition to the injuries (such as happened at your house), drinking can cause violence, unwanted or unintended sexual activity, destruction of property and violations of trust and friendships.

Unfortunately, your toughest job is still ahead. You must tell your parents about this. Your brother’s choice could have cost your family everything. They should never leave you two home alone overnight again.

How to, like, help?

Dear Amy: One of my best friends, “Katie,” has the horrible habit of injecting the word “like” into every sentence, sometimes as often as every other word.

She is in her late 30s, super bright, beautiful and single and works in a high-level/high-profile position at a big company. It’s really hard to listen to her at times. But more important, I also think it must be hurting her on some level. Should I say anything to her about it?

Friends of mine who have met her always mention it later. I don’t want to hurt her feelings, but I also know that if I had a terrible habit that was having a negative effect on people, I would hope a friend would tell me.

Amy says: You have your opening line: “If I had a bad habit that had a negative effect on people, I would want a friend to tell me. Do you feel the same way?”

If she answers in the affirmative, you have your opening.

Send questions via e-mail to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com.

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