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Initiative educates kids about alcohol, drugs

April 16, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
The government says excessive alcohol consumption, often coupled with illegal drug use is responsible for 180,000 emergency room visits each year for people under 21. Teens and young adults are just not stepping in when their friends are in trouble. But, now, one organization is hoping to change that.Not a day goes by when Pat and Lisa McCarthy don't think about their 16-year-old daughter Danielle and wonder, what if?

"They could have called me. I would have come and picked her up in a heartbeat, it would have been so simple. No one would have been in trouble," said Lisa.

But no one called and Danielle died. According to court documents, she'd been given ecstasy. She felt like she was having a bad reaction and asked her friends for help, but they refused.

She had a seizure and eventually died at a friend's home.

"The morning we found out she had died, we just couldn't understand. We were wondering, how could she have died?" said Pat. "And the first thing that came out of my mouth was 'friends don't let friends die.'"

Danielle isn't the only victim. That's why her family launched a non-profit organization called "Friends Don't Let Friends Die," and it's gaining national attention.

Our goal is to stop that and to educate pre-teens, teenagers and young adults, even parents on the importance of picking up a phone, making a phone call, saving another person's life," Pat added.

The federal government is also working to raise awareness. Frances Harding, with the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention says calling for help is key.

"We know that when somebody in the medical profession does come and help out, that they have a greater chance of survival," said Frances.

She says it's clear what's holding a lot of kids back.

"They're scared of getting in trouble. So what we try to do is teach young people that you have to get beyond that because this is serious," said Frances. "We help them see the warning signs of when to really be concerned."

It's been three years since Danielle died.

"Help is on the way. That's the message that 911 will give you. They will send help," said Pat. "Consequences later will be nothing compared to if you walked away and let that person die."

The government is so concerned, they're organizing over 2000 Town Hall Meetings throughout the country in April.


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