Drew Crossland was your typical all-American student. He was involved in sports and did well in school. But all of that changed around the time Drew was a junior in high school.
One night when Drew was only 17, his parents, Jean and George Crossland, got a phone call from the local hospital informing them that their son had been admitted. Jean and George arrived to find out that Drew had been rushed to the hospital by ambulance, with signs of alcohol poisoning. Drew was at a party with some friends, drank too much alcohol and passed out. Fortunately, his friends called an ambulance, and Drew survived the frightening experience.
George said that Jean “came down pretty hard on Drew” and thought the experience was a good wake up call. After that night, Drew seemed to get his act together and finished up the school year without any other problems.
But unfortunately, that night would not be the last time that George and Jean would get that call.
Drew continued to abuse drugs and alcohol over the next several years, and when he was 23, he spent the day with friends watching sports and drinking. But later that night, one of his friends found him passed out in another room; he was blue. This time when his parents were called to the hospital, Drew was already being placed on life support, and would not survive. Drew’s death certificate read: “over indulged in alcohol”.
Since Drew’s death, his family has become advocates in the fight against underage drinking. They speak at various panels at high schools to tell their son’s story in hopes of preventing another teen from going down Drew’s path and losing their life too young from alcohol and drugs. In fact, George Crossland went back to school and received his psychology degree, and has applied for an alcohol and drug license.
As George said, “hindsight is beautiful,” and through their tragic experience he has advice for other parents about talking with their teens about alcohol and drugs. “You need to be honest and up front in the discussion, and let your children know you are there for them. Make sure your children know they have somewhere to go with their problems,” George said.
If you are a parent whose teen has already starting to experiment with drugs and alcohol, George’s advice is to “get on top of the situation right away, drinking is not a rite of passage. Monitor the situation closely and don't assume just because you drank at an early age that your child will also come out alright.”
It’s because of stories like the Crossland’s that MADD developed the Power of Parents™ program to educate parents about the dangers of underage drinking and give them the tools they need to start talking with their kids about alcohol. Early drinking increases the odds that a child will get hooked on alcohol, tobacco, or illegal drugs. In fact, kids who drink before the age of 15 are four times more likely to become alcoholics.
It’s never too early to talk with your child about the dangers of underage drinking. Download our free parent handbook to help you start the conversation today.