April 20, 2012
Reader’s View Editorial
By Brian Farr

Fourteen young people and one parent were recently arrested in an international identification fraud ring, and all to acquire alcohol. Once again I feel a responsibility to remind people about the dangers of this drug, even in our picturesque city.

I would like to shake the hand of the woman who spotted the underage purchaser and spoke up. Very courageous, and she may have saved a life with her actions by preventing an alcohol- fueled tragedy. I have a hard time fathoming what the father who assisted in these crimes was thinking.

As a substance abuse counselor for over a decade in our fair city, I have continually run into similar parents and adults whose heads are buried deep in the sands of denial as they tell themselves “it’s only alcohol,” or “if I allow them to drink at my house they will be safe,” or, like the ignorant adult who assisted these teenagers in acquiring the fake IDs: “Even if it might get someone seriously injured, raped or killed, at least my kids and their friends will think I’m cool.”

It remains at the top of the list as the leading cause of preventable accidents, sexual abuse crimes, and death among teenagers. And that even applies in Saratoga.Young people get a mixed message here. Saratoga tends to encourage addiction, even if Todd Garafano would rather that we did not talk about that because it may affect revenue. I get it. It’s his job to sell our addictions to people.I wonder if he has taken the time, like Christian Mathiesen, whose job it is to try to keep us all safe, to go down to Caroline Street in the wee, violent hours of the morning to face the truth — it is toxic down there.

Toxic is the perfect word. A powder keg of bad potential. The death of a young man a few years ago was not enough to change things. Nor was the preventable, drunken riot during the last year.

But Saratoga and many Saratogians do not want to hear or think about that. We like the money from alcoholism and gambling addiction. It keeps the flower beds watered and helps with all the construction of any free space left. Keep that money coming!

There is more to Saratoga than addiction and greed. In fact, there was a conference in town last weekend that proves it.

Many of you may not have heard about it because the 1,000 or so young people that attended did not wreck Caroline Street, or riot, or contribute to the available toxicity. These young people had all made a choice to live their lives abstinent from alcohol or drugs.I hope they had a great time here. I also hope that our local youth and parents will learn from their example that not everyone needs to use drugs to have “fun.”

Brian Farr is a substance abuse counselor who lives in Wilton.