The Reality I See as a Pediatrician in the Emergency Room

[By Kathleen Berchelmann, MD, FAAP – pediatrician @ Mercy Children’s Hospital.  8/31/2015]

A 15 year-old stumbled into my ER at 2 am, barely conscious, supported by his terrified mother. He was out with friends, dropped off at home, seemed tired, and went to bed. The mom of one of his friends just called, and her son is in another ER unconscious, poisoned by something someone allegedly slipped into his drink. "They must have done the same thing to him," my patient's mother tells me. 

I attach monitors, start oxygen, hang IV fluids, and draw a "coma panel"—a myriad of tests meant to pick out what toxic substance could have poisoned this patient. I didn't have to wait long for the answer.

Alcohol. No date rape drugs, no heroin, just alcohol. All the other tests came back negative, and the patient slowly woke up, and went home to shake off a really bad hangover. Apparently, the patient's friend in the other ER had only alcohol in his blood, too. 

The saddest part was the mom, who wouldn't believe me. "Isn't there something else wrong with him?" she asked me. "He swears he didn't drink anything." I struggled to think of a gentle reply, but I couldn't find words. Finally, I sighed and said, "I don't know how you get a blood alcohol level that high without drinking."  

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Judge denies bail reduction in Yellowowl meth case

[Great Falls Tribune – March 3, 2017 – Montana (pg M2)]

Judge denies bail reduction in Yellowowl meth case 


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A district judge on Thursday denied a request to reduce bail for a man charged with giving a 12-year-old girl methamphetamine.

Bengamin Ray Yellowowl, 25, requested his bail be reduced to $50,000 with a condition of GPS monitoring if he were to bail out. District Judge Thomas McKittrick denied the motion, citing the seriousness of the offense, prior felony convictions and adding his belief that Yellowowl is a flight risk.

At Thursday’s hearing, McKittrick allowed prosecutors to present a photo obtained by the police of Yellowowl injecting a young girl with a syringe.

Yellowowl is charged with felony child endangerment, felony sexual abuse of children and unlawful transactions with children, a misdemeanor. If convicted, he faces a possible 110 years imprisonment.

Yellowowl was arrested in January after a Great Falls police officer pulled Yellowowl’s car over and allegedly found a jittery

12year-old behind the wheel. According to court documents, Yellowowl later told officers he and the victim were dating for about a month and they had been having sex since October.

When police brought the girl to the hospital, she reportedly admitted to using meth and drinking alcohol with Yellowowl earlier that night, charging documents state.

Yellowowl’s bail remains at $200,000.

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Parents warn about alcohol at other homes

[Great Falls Tribune – March 2, 2017 – Dear Abby (pg M5)]

Parents warn about alcohol at other homes 

Dear Abby: I have seen letters in your column from parents who want to ensure their children’s and teenagers’ safety when visiting their friends’ homes. A question parents need to ask the hosting parents is what their drug and alcohol policy is.

We wrongly assumed (and trusted) that our daughter’s friends’ parents did not facilitate access to alcohol or drugs to minors. We realized — too late — that from the time she was 15, our daughter had access to unmonitored alcohol and was sometimes encouraged to consume it in these homes.

 Many parents think it’s OK if teens drink alcohol under supervision, as long as the parents are there and they have possession of the car keys. They wrongly rationalize that the teens are going to do it anyway, so why not under supervision?

What these good-time parents don’t consider is that a teen who may have a genetic predisposition to addiction may have just gotten a switch turned on in his or her developing brain. You can’t look at people and know if they are prone to addiction. In our case, our daughter’s addiction became a long, difficult struggle, which led to the untimely death of our smart and talented daughter at age 24.

— Grieving Mom in Reno

Dear Grieving Mom: I am sorry for the tragic loss of your daughter. In most states, providing alcohol to minors is against the law, not only for public safety, but also for the reason you stated.

Years ago, I spoke with a gentleman who was active with the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD), when he repeated something he’d heard at an AA meeting. He said the subject being discussed at the meeting was what it felt like having that “very first drink.” One of the members stood up and said, “It was like someone switched a light on in my head, and I said to myself, ‘So that’s what it’s like to feel normal!” ’ This is why it is imperative that families with a history of addiction make their children aware of it and clearly understand why it’s important they avoid addictive substances even if their friends are indulging.

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Sip 'n Stroll to open in Missoula

[Great Falls Tribune – February 25, 2017 – The Edge (pg A4)]

In the category of “most Missoula thing ever” comes this latest entry, from a recent Missoulian story. The lucky hipsters of the town with a brewery on every corner are anticipating the arrival at the Southgate Mall of a “sip ‘n’ stroll” specialty grocery store.

The chain, which focuses on natural, organic and locally grown products, lets you grab a $2 pint of local beer or $3 glass of wine to “enhance the shopping experience.”

This is a trend we can totally get behind. Finally a way to liven up the dreaded grocery shopping trip. Heck, this might even turn a chore into the new happy hour.

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Project Sticker Shock targets underage drinking in Hanover County


HANOVER COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — The Hanover County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) announced Wednesday morning their participation in Project Sticker Shock program.

HCSO will be participating in the project on February 4 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Sticker Shock is a youth-led prevention program designed to support existing and encourages new community activism, cooperative efforts, and community capacity building to combat underage drinking and its related programs — specifically, adults providing alcohol to minors.

Project Sticker Shock seeks to reach those persons 21 years of age or older who might illegally purchase alcohol and provide it to minors.

Youth will visit participating retailers accompanied by the Hanover County Sheriff’s Office, Ashland Police Department, and members from Hanover County Community Services.

“They will place prevention stickers on multi-packs of beer, wine coolers, and other alcohol products that might appeal to underage drinkers,” HCSO press release said.

Read the full story

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