Traumatic Experience Yields Advice

By Dr. Robert Wallace

September 5, 2019 5 min read

DR. WALLACE: I recently moved to my grandparent's house in Illinois because my parents are going through a nasty breakup. Two days before summer, a friend I met at my new school invited me to go to a big mall in our town. Her mother was to drop us off and pick us up three hours later.

My friend and I visited a lot of shops. Just before it was time for us to look for her mother, we went into a large department store. My friend left me for a while in the shoe department, where I was looking at new shoes for the upcoming school year.

When my friend returned, she told me it was time to meet her mother, so we had to hurry. But when we left the store, a man came up to us and told us to follow him. He took us to a backroom where two ladies asked my friend to open up a bag she was carrying. She did, and in it was something she hadn't paid for. My friend started crying and said she was sorry, but the lady called her mother. When her mother got to the store and found out her daughter had stolen a pair of sunglasses, she started crying. I was scared to death but had done nothing wrong myself, so I was allowed to call my grandmother to pick me up. Believe me, seeing my friend get caught shoplifting was a traumatic occurrence for me to witness, and it was even worse for my friend. I hope that sharing this experience with other teens can serve as a warning to never, ever even think about shoplifting. It wrong to steal, and the trauma of the aftermath of getting caught is truly horrific. I know because I saw it firsthand. — Witness to a Sad Story, via email

WITNESS: Thanks for the excellent advice. Shoplifting is a very serious offense. If convicted, the guilty party may have a criminal record, which can hinder future employment opportunities. Some teens shoplift for the thrill of it. It's a great source of excitement for them — until they get caught! We all know it is wrong to steal, but unfortunately some individuals, like your friend, must be reminded of this the hard way.


DR. WALLACE: Several months ago, you stated that once a person is drunk, nothing will help them get sober. That isn't true. My boyfriend doesn't drink a lot, but once in a while, he'll have one or two too many. When this happens, I drive to the nearest fast-food restaurant and get him a large, hot black coffee. Once he finishes the coffee, he is sober. Also, a major local corporation offers free black coffee during the holiday season for those who need to sober up. Please learn the true facts before you print something. — Sober Coffee Drinker, via email

SOBER COFFEE DRINKER: Once a person is under the influence of alcohol, the only remedy is the passage of time. Time alone is the only cure. Hot black coffee, cold showers, strenuous exercise and other popular remedies do not work because they cannot increase the rate at which a human body disposes of alcohol. These so-called remedies can be dangerous when they give people a false sense of alertness.

If your boyfriend gradually sobers up while drinking the coffee you provide him, I posit that it is the time that passes between the purchase of the coffee and that spent sitting and drinking it that is the true contributing factor to his gradual sobriety.

It takes roughly one hour for the body to eliminate one standard alcoholic drink. The liver is limited to breaking down roughly one drink per hour.

All hot coffee does after a round of excessive drinking is fill you with caffeine and, in some cases, provide a false sense of security that all is well, sometimes well before this is actually true.

Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. Email him at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

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