In Praise of REM (not the band)

This month I have been engaged in a series of speaking engagements around Greater Portland (ME) sponsored by a parenting group called Casco Bay CAN.  (The C.A.N. stands for “Creating Awareness Now” about substance abuse and young people.  Check them out at  Thus far, I have spoken to h.s. seniors and parents at Cape Elizabeth, Falmouth, Freeport, and Greely (Cumberland) high schools.  Next up is Yarmouth High School.

My topic is the plan outlined in my book College Success Guaranteed – 5 Rules to Make it Happen (Rowman Littlefield, 2011).  Joining me at the podium has been Lee Anne Dodge, Coordinator of Substance Abuse & Wellness at The University of Southern Maine (USM).  We’ve basically been doing a tag team where I kick off with my “5 Rules” and she follows up with some information about the effects of drugs and alcohol on both young and no-so-young adults.

Lee Anne presents an engaging, straight-forward, and informative piece on the damaging effects of drugs and alcohol on abstract thinking.  More specifically, she explains how intoxication interferes with R.E.M. sleep — the type of sleep (not the band) that cleanses the mind and permits us to dream — which, in turn, impairs the synapses that enable us to conduct problem-solving endeavors (e.g., math and science).  However, here’s the kicker: It not only impairs these processes, it clouds and impairs them for… three days!

So, if your plan is to “party hardy” on Saturday night and hit the books all day Sunday, you might want to think again.  (Especially if you’re going to be dealing with either quadratic equations or the Periodic Table.)

Onward,  Malcolm Gauld