Schoolies: The Lethal Mix

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Dark Clouds Over Schoolies Image Source News Ltd

We come into the annual “Right of Passage”, that is Schoolies week. The warnings are already coming out in the media, because of the fear of balcony falls and other irrational behaviour. We try and control these incidents through external forces and the latest one is that unit owners are looking to lock balconies to prevent falls. We already have a large police and volunteer presence to control the behaviour. And we need to look at external controls with good reason.

We know that alcohol presents issues in our society. We see it every weekend with alcohol fuelled violence and behaviour clogging the arteries of our emergency wards. We see it in our news bulletins and papers. We see it in the sunken faces of the families of the victims. And we all wonder how this can be stopped.

This issue is magnified at Schoolies and it is in our genetic brain makeup that is most concerning. The explanation is simple. Basically our brain has two major parts that controls behaviour. One, our Limbic system, creates our emotional response, while the other, our Frontal Lobe, is responsible for our rational thought.

The problem we have is that our Limbic System reacts at lightning speed. Liken it to a Porsche at top speed. This hi-speed response is not vetted for consequence. So we have this raw emotion occurring at lightning speed with no concern for consequence. This Limbic Reaction needs our rational thought to change and correct behaviour to keep us safe.

The problem lies because our Frontal Lobe operates at a much slower pace. Much like a horse and buggy. Our rational thought accounts for consequence and controls our Limbic Reaction. So our horse and buggy rational thought, is trying to keep up with a lightning speed Porsche. We need to create good feedback mechanisms in our rational thought that helps us control our emotional response. And all is usually good, when we have full control.

When we add alcohol into the mix, it becomes more dangerous. That horse and buggy is being slowed, and the more alcohol we consume, we slowly but surely take the wheels off the buggy. The buggy is not coming, and we are left with simply our Limbic Reaction. And this occurs without any thought of consequence. No wonder we have dramas.

And let’s just add something else into this lethal mix. Our Frontal Lobe system, doesn’t fully mature until we have passed the age of 20, and in many cases not until we turn 25. Our horse and buggy is not fully mature, so we are already prone to irrational behaviour, and then we take the wheels off. It’s a recipe for disaster.

I know many will attend Schoolies week and will have an enjoyable and safe time, without the need for excess alcohol. But the minority that go to Schoolies simply to drink to excess, actually need external controls to ensure they don’t harm themselves or others. Due to the make-up of our brain, this is actually our only hope.

Tony Curl
Certified Coach

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Tony Curl

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