Thursday, March 17, 2011
Huntsville Physician speaks to St. Bernard Prep
Dr. Monica Murphy, an emergency room physician at Huntsville Hospital spent her off-day at St. Bernard Preparatory School in Cullman presenting a program on the effects of alcohol and drug use.
With the assistance of her husband Kris, the duo presented a power point and question/answer session. “I’m sure all of us know someone who has or is using drugs. No family is immune to drug abuse. We all know addicts whether the substance is tobacco, alcohol or drugs,” Murphy said. “A drug makes you feel real good at first; that’s why we take them; but then you feel just okay; before long you have to have it to function; and finally you need it to survive. “
Photo images of healthy lungs and tar covered lungs were shown. “Nicotine is highly addictive and melts the lungs. Most of my emphysema patients look like a fish out of water. The ones who don’t die of a lack of oxygen die of heart failure. “
Murphy stressed that though alcohol may be a legal drug, it is very addictive. “The media makes it look fun and very hard to resist, but even the first drink can turn on the alcohol gene that leads to alcoholism.”
Noting Cullman County has its share of drugs available to the public, naming marijuana, meth, cocaine, heroine, crack and black magic, and others, Murphy explained, “A lot of people think marijuana is a soft drug, straight from nature and no big deal. However it is the most common reason people go into drug rehab; and it is known as the gateway drug - if you try it, you’ll be inclined to try something else later.”
These drugs alter the brain’s chemistry and can cause chronic anxiety and depression, and they may activate schizophrenia. Murphy left nothing to the imagination describing the typical drug users. “People come into the ER trying to pick bugs out of the air and from their skin; they hear voices inside their head telling them to kill themselves.”
After viewing side by side photo images of meth addicts, students were disgusted by the aged appearance of those who had been on drugs for just a few years. “Meth users are not hard to detect. This junk literally melts the enamel off their teeth.” Crystal meth - a combination of Sudafed, household chemicals, lye, and other substances, is highly deadly, and highly addictive. “Meth destroys your body, mind, and soul - and the damage is permanent.”
Emergency rooms treat alcoholics and drug users daily. Some are highly educated, but have lost everything. They live on the streets in cardboard boxes, under bridges, and their lives are consumed by attempting to get enough alcohol to survive the day. “We see this everyday. Alcohol kills the liver, causes vomiting and pooping blood, and surgically nothing can be done.”
Murphy demonstrated how to say no to friends, and then shared her personal high school story with the students . “While in the 11th grade, my best friend started smoking pot, and it ended our friendship. Friends are people you trust, but this is a decision you have to make. The decision has to come from within.”
“Just say “no” in your own words – if you have already tried drugs, say no more,“ stressed Murphy.
At the conclusion of the presentation, Murphy said, “I care about this community. Your school matters to me. My children will go here one day, and I don’t want you offering my children drugs; and I certainly don’t want your parents to show up in my ER and have to say ‘I am so sorry; we did everything we could. Your child is dead’.”
Fr. Joel Martin, headmaster at St. Bernard Prep, expressed his appreciation to Kris and Dr. Murphy. He said he was very pleased with the down to earth presentation and student interaction: “Dr. Murphy was certainly powerful and to the point. She did not simply say, ‘Don’t take drugs;’ she showed us clearly and dramatically why we should not. Her message was well received by the students and faculty.”