Emerson College and their New Amnesty Policy – Good Job!

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Emerson College in Boston just announced that they have adopted an amnesty policy when students call for help with alcohol and other drug related emergencies.  So, if a bunch of kids are drinking or doing drugs at Emerson, shocking I know, and someone uses poor judgment, again, shocking, it gives the kids freedom to call for help. There are countless examples of deaths involving situations where the kids involved were afraid to call 911. There is an insightful scene in the film “traffic” where the kids were partying and one overdosed, the others were too afraid to call for help and ended up dumping their friend at the entrance of an ER. 

Is this good policy? Does it encourage undergrads to drink and use drugs? The short answer is no, it does not encourage them to drink. It does encourage them to call for help. In my view, this should be national policy and not just on college campuses but in the community as a whole.

Drug abuse correlates to many things: trauma, genetics, exposure to community violence, and interruption in ones experience with the same sex parent. Heroin addiction correlates to many factors but availability of needles isn’t one of them, and yet, we don’t provide clean needles compounding the public health issues with HIV, Hep C and other diseases.

The time for harm reduction has come. The narrow minded, punitive, tough on “crime” thought process has created a mess, a drain on resources, misery to individuals and families.  College campuses are fairly dangerous places. Kids away from home for the first time, impulsive adolescent energy fueled by drugs and alcohol. Parents of sons will not be shocked to hear that decision making is not a strong suit of even the most grounded boy.  Why then, wouldn’t we do everything we can do to reduce the risk factors? 

My son is 4 years old, so it’s not a concern yet (unless I’m in denial), but if he were at a party and drank to the point of needing medical attention, please let someone call for help. If one of the hurdles is fear of getting in trouble, let’s get rid of that. In the same way that I would prefer my son not have sex until he can be responsible, I think I’ll put condoms in his lunchbox. Proper use of condoms reduces pregnancy and spread of disease and “good Samaritan” policy reduces injury and death!  Kudos to Emerson College!

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