Lemonade Maker Debbie Allen
Debbie Allen is a LemonadeMaker. Like many other LemonadeMakers, she created a foundation called “Shelby’s Rules”, after her daughter died. She is working hard to educate teens of the dangers of alcohol poisoning, to prevent other families from losing their children to it. If the other girls with her had called for help, her death could have been avoided. They didn’t realize the seriousness of what was happening with Shelby, and thought she just needed to sleep it off.
Shelby Lyn Allen was a 17 year-old 11th grade student. On the first night of Christmas break in 2008, Shelby and her friends started drinking. Shelby 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 tragedy, Debbie began asking questions. Talking with other teens, she realized that most of them had no clue that drinking just a few too many swallows of an 80 proof alcohol, like vodka, can kill you. 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.
Debbie also realized that most adults have no clue about the dangers of alcohol poisoning. Everyone knows that excessive drinking can make you sick (praying to the porcelain god) or have you make a fool of yourself (dancing on the table). Maybe you will even suffer a nasty hangover. But letting a friend “sleep it off” can easily turn into them falling into a deadly coma or vomiting in their sleep, and choking to death.
Once alcohol poisoning has begun the only effective treatment is to get the poisoned person to a hospital emergency room, provide breathing assistance as needed and provide IV therapy (nutrients). Most importantly, this care must be provided immediately to be effective and because of the possibility of brain damage every minute counts. Alcohol poisoning causes the brain to shut down vital organ processes, including breathing. If your breathing stops, your heart stops, you die. By all accounts, if breathing is assisted by intubation (breathing tube) the body will rid itself of alcohol and you will survive.
Shelby’s untimely and ultimately preventable death has devastated Debbie’s family. Shelby 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 teenagers safety, their very lives can come down to other young people knowing when and how to ask for help.
If you have teenagers, please get this film to help your teens understand the dangers of binge drinking. “The Unconcious Truth” is now available on DVD and at tyla.org. Contact TYLA at 800-204-222 ext. 1529 to request a copy. This is a film that highlights the dangers of teen binge drinking – perfect to incorporate into high school and community alcohol education programs!