Debbie Allen, founder of the nonprofit Shelby’s Rules, will speak to parents and youth in Sonoma about the dangers of binge drinking, which took her daughter’s life nearly nine years ago. During a Christmas break party, her 17-year-old became violently ill and was semi-conscious when her friends left her propped up over the toilet. When she was discovered the next morning, she could not be revived.
“In the aftermath of this unbelievable tragedy,” she said, “I began asking questions. As I talked to teens, I came to realize that most of them have no clue that drinking just a few too many swallows of an 80 proof alcohol, like vodka, can kill you.”
Parents are also in the dark, she said. “Shockingly, I came to realize that most adults have no clue about the dangers of alcohol poisoning.”
Allen will speak at an informational forum on Tuesday, April 18, from 6 to 8 p.m. at Altimira Middle School. A panel of parents, members of health and law enforcement community and will also take part. The event is free to the public.
“I have vowed to do whatever I can to educate teens, young adults and parents to the dangers of alcohol poisoning,” said Allen. “I want all of them to know that immediate medical intervention can save lives. It is my deepest desire that no other families or friends will have to endure the pain of loss that we experience every day of our lives.”
Through her educational foundation, Shelby’s Rules, Allen educates students and parents of the little known danger of death caused by alcohol poisoning that can occur with a surprisingly small of alcohol. She shares the causes, the symptoms, the treatment and the myths to be aware of that can lead to death, such as letting an unconscious person ‘sleep it off.’
“As unfair as this seems, if you are a girl, your risk is increased by variables such as fluctuating hormone levels and smallness of frame,” Allen said.
Though she said her daughter’s death devastated the family, she remains a realist. “Our daughter made poor choices that night, but those choices should never have led to her death. It is the hard truth that despite our best efforts to protect them, in the end our children’s safety, their very lives can come down to other young people knowing when and how to ask for help.”