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San Benito High School teacher Phil Clark is hoping pictures of
the brains of drug users will get students to stop using drugs and
San Benito High School teacher Phil Clark is hoping pictures of the brains of drug users will get students to stop using drugs and alcohol.

Two recent presentations by Hollister physician Bill Clint to SBHS classes illustrated the effects of drug use and alcohol abuse on the brain. Through a PowerPoint computer presentation, Clint showed students Brain Spect Imaging pictures of human brains.

“Lots of students are in denial,” Clark said. “They either don’t know drugs have a permanent impact on them or that drug use has a physiological impact.”

The presentation was an attempt to get to students in a way other drug-abuse programs haven’t. SBHS junior Ehren Headley said it accomplished its goal.

“I thought it was cool. It shows people and how they act,” Headley said. “It shows how drugs can screw everything up up there. … It was hard-core – it’s good to see.”

Clint went through slides of normal BSIs, which showed smooth and even blood flow over the entire surface of the brain. BSIs are used to measure mild and severe brain traumas and seizure activity as well as the effects of drugs and alcohol on the brain.

After going over the slides of normal brains, Clint showed pictures of the brains of various drug abusers. The brains looked much different than the normal ones – most with scalloping – what looked like holes – all over the surface and decreased activity in certain areas or all of the brain.

“Our brains – we’ve got to take care of them. We don’t do brain transplants; we probably never will,” Clint said. “The brain is a complex organ. There are 100 trillion connections, making it the most complex in the world.”

The cerebellum – the “coordination center” – is the most active area of the brain, Clint said. Alcohol abuse “seems to hit the cerebellum pretty hard,” he said. This is why people who drink a lot walk with their feet wide apart – to help them balance, he said.

The brain of a 37-year-old male who drank daily for 17 years had holes in the cortical surface, decreased blood flow, decreased metabolism and decreased activity of the brain. Clint said – and students agreed – that this leads to bad judgment, mood swings, anger, depression and memory loss.

The most damaging drugs to the brain are inhalants – glue, paint and solvents – alcohol, if abused, and heroin, Clint said.

“With heroin, you can hardly even recognize the brain,” he said. “Inhalants mean permanent damage.”

Marijuana abuse hits the temporal lobes hard, more so than the cerebellum, he said.

At the end, Clint told students that brain activity can return if a drug or alcohol abuser stops using.

“There is hope. If you can get these people to stop, their brain will come back most times,” he said. “Which brain do you want?”

Headley said he liked having a doctor give information and answer students’ questions. He said the presentation was better than others he’s seen because of Clint’s presence and because the presentation allowed students to see the effects of drug and alcohol abuse first-hand.

“I want every kid at this school to see this,” Clark said. “Drug use will drop.”

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.


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