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A Night to Remember

It would be nice to be able to do a story that says: More seniors than usual will remember this year’s proms and graduation parties in Orange County because more of them were sober.

If it doesn’t turn out that way, it won’t be because many people didn’t try.

The use of alcohol and drugs by Orange County high-school students is alarmingly high, and, according to alcohol and drug abuse authorities, it gets worse around graduation time.

One encouraging note this year is the strong effort being made by county parents’ groups, school officials, drug and alcohol abuse counseling services and even students to discourage the use of alcohol and drugs, and also to discourage driving if either or both are used. It’s a message that celebrating students should stop and heed. Many, we fear, won’t. The grim statistics show that 13.5% of high-school juniors in Orange County admit to using alcohol, drugs or both every day, and that 69% of the high-school juniors have been drunk and 47% have been high on drugs. Nationally, 27% of all teen-agers are “harmfully involved” with alcohol, and 3.3 million between the ages of 14 and 17 are alcoholics. And alcohol and drugs play a part in the deaths of about 200 youths between the ages of 14 and 19 on Orange County roads each year. That’s a lot of abuse. Too much.

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Printed reminders about not using alcohol or drugs are being distributed to teen-agers in corsage boxes and with their rented tuxedos, and the Orange County chapter of the National Council on Alcoholism has issued a plea to hotels, school officials, limousine services, florists and tuxedo shops--and parents--to help curb the use of drugs and alcohol and refuse to let teen-agers use drugs or drink.

Involving parents is especially important because, as one council official notes, many parents don’t want to hear about the problem and others even supply their children with alcohol, using the twisted rationale that they would rather have their children using alcohol than drugs.

Parents should know better. And students should stop and consider the advice being offered by people concerned about their welfare. Those who don’t heed the sound advice should at least have the sense to avoid driving. Instead, they should use the prom services set up by fellow students who are willing, without notifying parents or authorities, to drive home other students who are in no condition to drive themselves or who don’t want to ride with a driver high on drinks or drugs. Proms and graduation parties are a lot of fun. They’re even more fun when you can remember them.


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