Haze: Educating parents on the dangers of binge drinking

As graduation is approaching for high school seniors, the Darien Library provided a screening of the film Haze last week. Parents and students sat together and learned about alcohol abuse in college.

Haze is a documentary about the tragic death of Greenwich native, Lynn Gordon Bailey Jr. (“Gordie”), from binge drinking. The film contains accounts from his family and a fellow freshman that had been friends with Gordie for only a month. The film is painful to watch, but necessary for the audience to witness.

Doctors and psychologists in the film discussed the ways drinking can affect the body and how binge drinking can be lethal. The documentary focuses on heavy drinking in college, more specifically in fraternities and sororities, since the largest amounts of hospitalizations from drinking among under aged persons occur at those establishments.

A panel was held following the screening with Darien Police Department’s Officer Bryan Wallman, Dr. Frank Bartolomeo, Mark Ryan, and former Darien High School student Mackenzie Coughlin. The discussion centered on their reactions to the film and their stories concerning alcohol abuse among underage adults.

Officer Bryan Wallman shared his experiences in working with underage drinking in Darien. He’s witnessed situations that could have ended up like Gordie’s and the main problem he’s recognized is that friends are too scared of the consequences of calling for help instead of doing the right thing. Dr. Bartolomeo provided advice for parents to not speak about drinking in a way that would encourage their children to participate in dangerous drinking behaviors.

Mark Ryan opened up about his support for Alcoholics Anonymous and support fraternities can provide to those struggling with alcoholism and not just work into the stigma of partying and over drinking. Mackenzie Coughlin spoke about how women in college can create code words or phrases to signal one another when something is wrong and help is needed.

Towards the end of the night, parents showed gratitude to the panel of speakers and for the screening of Haze for providing vital education that they did not know they needed.

The event was sponsored by The Youth Asset Team, The Community fund of Darien, the YWCA of Darien/Norwalk, and The Darien Library.