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Erica-Upshaw

Erica Upshaw

Change the Culture of Alcohol and Drug Abuse in America. Upshaw's Organization, Keep Friendship Alive

Erica Upshaw, In 2000, her older brother Joey Upshaw died at a fraternity house after heavy drinking and overdosing on the drug Gamma Hydroxybutyric acid, also known as GHB. Only two hours passed between when Joey Upshaw collapsed after taking the drug and he died. During that time, Joey Upshaw’s friends took him to his…

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Erica Upshaw, In 2000, her older brother Joey Upshaw died at a fraternity house after heavy drinking and overdosing on the drug Gamma Hydroxybutyric acid, also known as GHB. Only two hours passed between when Joey Upshaw collapsed after taking the drug and he died. During that time, Joey Upshaw’s friends took him to his room to sleep it off. They went to check on him every half hour, but on the second time, he wouldn’t respond. His friends then argued for half an hour on whether or not to call the police. By the time they did call, it was too late, Upshaw said.

After her brother’s death, Upshaw continued partying and drinking excessively until a guy she had been dating confronted her about it.

Before that, she had never made the connection between the alcohol and his death. She said she had only blamed the death on the GHB. It was then she began to realize the alcohol impaired his judgments and led him to make the bad decisions that ultimately led to his death, Upshaw said.

“It was for the first time since he died I really realized what a problem my brother had,” she said. “You know Joey had an alter ego. When he would drink his friends would call him Lenny from ‘Of Mice and Men.’” Upshaw said she began to drink responsibly and started encouraging her friends to speak up if they felt someone had been drinking too much.

“I think it would be great if somebody left today and talked to a friend that they’re concerned about regarding drinking and drug use, but if all else fails, the most important thing they can take away is what to do in an emergency,” she said.

In her speech, Upshaw stressed the six ways to ensure a person drinks responsibly: make a decision to stay in control, eat before drinking, avoid the drinks that cause irrational behavior quickly, maintain a pace of one drink per hour, stay hydrated with water while drinking and use the buddy system. She also said it is important that people know to call 911 if necessary.

“I thought it was really important that she emphasizes that we can’t be bystanders, that we need to be there for our friends because we’re not in this alone,” senior Michael Banks said. “It inspired me to put myself aside and actually try to help someone,” senior Allyson Wilson said.

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