By Barry Adkins, whose 18 year-old son, Kevin, died of alcohol poisoning on the day he moved out on his own. In an effort to raise awareness Barry walked, from Arizona to Montana, with Kevin’s ashes in his backpack, sharing his story along the way. Barry is also the author of "Kevin’s Last Walk, A Father’s Final Journey With His Son."
It's just alcohol; at least they’re not doing drugs.” How many of us have said this, heard it, or thought it? Often, we think that as long as they are “just drinking” our children will be okay, but we couldn’t be more wrong. Most illegal drugs are tried for the first time under the influence of alcohol. Alcohol kills more than all illegal drugs combined. The younger your child starts drinking, the more likely they are to become an alcoholic. Still think it isn’t a big deal? Try using Google to search for the term “alcohol abuse” and check out how many results you get.
I am not advocating that we go back to the days of prohibition. It didn’t work before, it won’t work now. I am advocating educating our children about the dangers of alcohol abuse. As a society we do a lousy job of discouraging our children to drink. Television shows and movies glorify binge drinking. They show people getting drunk and having a “good time.” They don’t bother to show you the bad things that can happen when your child drinks. They could get behind the wheel and kill someone or themselves, die from alcohol poisoning or get a DUI. For your precious little girl, it’s things like rape, sexual assault, unwanted pregnancy and STD’s. For that boy you are so proud of, he could be assaulted, or assault someone, or become an unplanned father.
Those precious children that you have held, burped, changed diapers and loved, have hopes and dreams. They dream of growing up and finding a cure for cancer, helping starving kids around the world, going to the moon, being president, (insert your child’s dream here). They will also be faced with many decisions. Decisions like where they want to go to college, what they want to study, where they want to live, who they want to marry, how many grandchildren they want to bless you with, etc.
All important decisions, no doubt, but the decision your child makes about alcohol will define their lives. Make even one bad decision about alcohol and all of the above hopes and dreams can vanish into thin air.
It’s too late for my son Kevin, who died of alcohol poisoning, on the day he moved out on his own, but it’s not too late for your child. The decisions your child makes about alcohol will have a profound effect on how their life, (and yours), turns out. Educate yourself, and then educate your children.Be a parent, not a buddy, sit down with your child and make a list of the good things that can happen when they drink and the bad things that can happen. It will be an eye opener for both of you. Use news stories that involve poor decision making under the influence of alcohol to start a discussion. My son, Kevin, used to say, “Yeah, yeah dad, you don’t have to tell me again, I know what I am doing,” but he didn’t, and it would cost him his life and alter mine in a way I could never have imagined. Pause for a moment and close your eyes. Imagine yourself getting that “knock on the door” while your child lies dead in a morgue.
Folks, I’m begging you, act as if your child’s life depends on it, because it does.
When you lose a child, the most that you can hope for is to make something very good come from it. That is what I plan to spend the rest of my life doing.