A Very Dangerous Place for a Child Is College

Louis M. Profeta:

Most loved the candor, the openness, the willingness of a seasoned ER doctor to answer uncomfortable questions about drugs and alcohol, sexual assault, and hazing, and a whole host of semi-taboo topics. But it was the questions when the “adults” were out of the room that made me say to myself, “Holy shit … so many of these ‘kids’ have absolutely no business being in college.”

“What about whippets, what if I just snorted one xanax, can you really soak a tampon in alcohol and get drunk, is cough syrup OK to mix with vodka, is ecstasy and molly the same thing, can’t you just strap a backpack to them to keep them from rolling over so they don’t choke on their own vomit, what about phenergan, what’s in skittles (not the candy), how many milligrams of THC can you eat and not die, are they starting to add stuff to coke (not the cola) that makes you more hyped, how much does it cost to go to an ER, will you call my parents if I go, how can you tell if your roommate is suicidal, what if you know your roommate is using heroin … should I tell their parents, how do I tell if the ‘bars’ I bought online are not fentanyl, I got raped last year … should I tell someone now, I think my roommate is going to probably kill herself…who do I tell?”

As I’ve traveled the country, these are just some of the questions and emails I have gotten from your college students. I try to approach them with openness and honesty, as a doctor and a father who almost lost a child to cancer, and I tell them that I want them to live a long life and experience the joy of holding their own child in their arms one day. I tell them they can always email me and I’ll find them help if they need it. Occasionally, they do. Most of the time it’s a parent who drops me a note and says something like, “Thank you, my kid called me tonight after your talk and apologized for every stupid thing they ever did.”