MenagerieVices, Virtues, and the Thin Line inbetween
Vices, Virtues, and the Thin Line inbetween
November 11, 2018
November 11, 2018

“This morning we are going to face the hard truth.”

Those were the words spoken right before the speaker, Mary Jane Brennan, was introduced. True enough, she has made a career out of making people realize the hard truths. A certified Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselor, she has spent most of her life traveling to Lasallian schools all over the world advocating for youth awareness.

Apparently, she has seen it all too. Every so often, she would look at the audience with knowing eyes and declare in a booming voice that surely, like all the other teenagers she had given talks to, we are skeptics armed with sarcasm. The audience in question was a curious mishmash of student volunteers and representatives from various DLSU organizations who gathered in the early morning of November 5.  The agenda for the day: a talk on drugs, alcohol, and mental health.


Nothing but the Truth

Mary Brennan deals with the truth. As an educator, she firmly believes that individuals make the best decisions for themselves when they are given complete access to information. In her pursuit of educating students, she only deals with the whole truth—no matter what.

Half-truths and embellishments do more harm than good, even if they are in favor of her advocacy. “People exaggerate, and people put out stories, and that makes my job hard,” she says. Sometimes well-meaning people spread stories about the use of certain substances that might discourage some from trying them, but half-truths and lies just make it harder for everyone to address these situations when they happen.

Brennan shared facts about drugs and alcohol that many students in the room were aware of, and some they were surprised to find out was true. She calmly told the room that no, alcohol does not kill brain cells; and yes, you can still test positive for marijuana years after your last hit. The silence was broken with some mild chatter, the audience surprised and caught off-guard.

Hands shot up again, this time eager to ask some questions.



The Answer at the Bottom of the Bottle

 Delving deeper, Brennan deftly fielded some queries from the audience. Among them was the popular concept of “high and low tolerance” or how much alcohol one can consume without getting drunk. What started as a question that pried into how certain people are better at holding their drink became a serious conversation about functional alcoholism.

When we talk about alcoholics, we have this picture of slurring, out-of-control people who can barely walk a straight line or hold down a job. That picture may not always be the case, according to Brennan. Those who can slam down shot after shot and still be fine can be alcoholics too. In fact, those who have a higher tolerance for alcohol are more susceptible to alcoholism; and the signs are harder to spot because they are able to function well in social situations despite the copious amounts of alcohol in their bodies.


Killing Silence

Brennan acknowledges that drugs and alcohol are not the only issues plaguing the youth. For many, addiction hints at deeper issues. Which is why she also fights for mental health awareness.

“Talk!” She urged us, compassion tingeing her voice.

Creating a culture where people with mental illnesses or addictions are not shamed is very important, she explains. In turn, it creates a better world where someone with anxiety will not be considered weak for asking for professional help, just like how people don’t question when someone needs prescription glasses or when someone needs a cast for a broken leg. Mental illnesses need treatment too.

She believes that by talking about these issues openly, we save lives. But more than anything, it empowers people to take charge of their own lives.  As the event reached it’s end, Brennan left us with so much more than vague warnings; she left us with a clearer view of our choices.

In light of the truth, there is no room for fear—as it should be.