Support our Sponsors
  • Masters School - Dobbs Ferry, NY
  • BREAST CARE & SURGERY at St. John's Riverside Hospital
  • Luxury Group Auction - Irvington, NY real estate sale
Community News
Health News
Irvington News

Program on the Effects of Alcohol and Drugs Provokes New Thinking Amongst Irvington High’s Athletes—and their Parents

• Bookmarks: 63

April 6, 2016

by Barrett Seaman

Michael Nerney is a bearded bantam, full of energy and jovial in nature, but his message delivered on March 14 to Irvington High School athletes—and later to some parents—was deadly serious in its content. A former teacher and coach, and a father of three himself, Nerney now gives presentations not only on the effects of alcohol and drugs on teenage brains but also on the unique plasticity and volatility of a brain as it develops between the ages of 12 and 23.

On that Monday afternoon, 200 of Irvington High’s athletes filed into the school theater to hear his rapid-fire admixture of mind-boggling statistics and facts about how a teenage brain develops and why it is particularly vulnerable to outside influences, coupled with amusing anecdotes about other teenagers, including his own. Nerney’s presentation is not a finger-wagging lecture but a steady volley of facts that students can take or leave.

Support our Sponsors
  • Listening Caring - St. Johns Dobbs Ferry
  • Sunnyside Federal - CDs
  • Luxury Group Auction - Irvington, NY real estate sale
  • Hastings Alumni Association

The events were sponsored by IASK—Irvington’s About Safe Kids campaign.

His approach with about three-dozen parents that evening was much the same, though tailored to explain the frustrating anomalies of teenage-dom, delivered to those who live with it every day. Illustrating his points with slides depicting living brains as they are influenced by various stimuli, Nerney offered his audiences a host of material with which they could make decisions. Among his claims:

  • The adolescent brain has 200 billion cells—nearly twice the number older adults have, but kids have twice as much gray matter as white, while adults have a balance of gray and white matter.
  • Teens are prone to take risks. For boys, the risks tend to be physical; for girls, they are more likely to be emotional or sexual.
  • Hormones—testosterone and estrogen—play an enormous role in influencing the brain, particularly the amygdala, which performs a primary role in the processing of memory, decision-making, and emotional reactions.
  • Ongoing studies at the University of Pennsylvania are showing how males use their brains differently than females use theirs. And their brains react differently to stimuli. The female brain, for instance, reacts differently to smoking, by triggering more dopamine, which leads to weight loss—something viewed as desirable to most teenage girls.

While these differences apply not just to the current generation but universally over time and place, Nerney stressed that their impact is dramatically greater in a modern environment in which social media plays such a huge role in young people’s daily lives.

Today’s world is full of risks that didn’t exist a couple of generations ago: cyber-bullying; access to anti-depressants and a range of sophisticated medications in parents’ cabinets; the ubiquity of hand sanitizer that is 68% alcohol; Aeroshots that are 100 mgs. of inhalable caffeine; disposable nicotine strips that can be dropped into a beer for an extra hit; Snobars—innocent-looking summer ices that are 14% alcohol; cupcakes with frosting that is 15% alcohol—all products targeting kids. More than ever, there is a propensity to mix and match drugs and alcohol.

The small group of parents (some with their teenage children) came away with practical advice on how best to set ground rules and how to establish code language to allow a teenage child to call home with a disguised signal to come and extricate them from a risky situation.

The student athletes also took away practical lessons. Mallory Toolan, a senior varsity lacrosse and soccer player, admitted that much of what Nerney said was new to her. “I was really interested when he explained how a female’s body reacts to alcohol compared to a male’s. I always thought that everyone’s body recovers the same way, but I now know that it takes females longer to recover because alcohol has a greater effect on them.”

Cristian Isho, a sophomore who is also a starting midfielder on the boy’s lacrosse team, was struck by the lasting effects drinking has on one’s performance. “Drinking could slow you down by a 10th of a second,” he recalled, which could make the difference between winning and losing. “A good number of my peers felt the same thing. You have to ask yourself: is one drink really worth it?”


Michael Nerney gives similar talks around the region, operating out of Long Lake, NY, north of Albany. He can be reached at 518-624-5351.

Read or leave a comment on this story...

Support our Sponsors
  • Listening Caring - St. Johns Dobbs Ferry
  • Congratulations Irvington High School Graduates
  • Tranquility Spa - Scarsdale
  • Congratulations Ardsley High School Graduates
  • Hasting High School Graduation Congratulations
  • Piccola Trattoria in Dobbs Ferry - make a reservation
  • Dobbs Ferry PTSA congratulation to the graduates!
  • The Rivertowns Rotary - scholarship awards
  • Andrea Martone - Houlihan Lawrence


LIMBO: Between the devil and the deep blue sea By Krista Madsen– It seems I’ve embarked on a Crime &...
Read More

Ardsley High School Holds Graduation Ceremony

by Rick Pezzullo Ardsley High School held commencement exercises Friday as 350 seniors received their diplomas. The following is a...
Read More

Dobbs Ferry High Seniors Receive Their Diplomas

by Rick Pezzullo--- On June 22 at Dobbs Ferry Waterfront Park, 86 seniors from Dobbs Ferry High School received their...
Read More

Villa Lewaro Hosts Irvington’s Juneteenth Party

By Barrett Seaman-- One of the more ambitious Juneteenth events this year took place in Irvington on the Saturday following...
Read More

Bowman And Latimer Near An End To Their Brutal Primary

By Barrett Seaman-- As the battle to determine the Democratic candidate for New York’s 16th Congressional District heads into its...
Read More

Hastings-on-Hudson High School Class of 2024 Graduates

By Rick Pezzullo--- Hastings-on-Hudson High School held commencement exercises Thursday for the 136 seniors in the Class of 2024. The...
Read More

Sleepy Hollow High School Class of 2024 Receives Diplomas

By Rick Pezzullo--- Family and friends braved the blistering hot temperatures Thursday evening to congratulate the Class of 2024 at...
Read More

Dobbs Ferry Man Jailed for Assaulting Two Teenagers

By Rick Pezzullo---- A 63-year-old Dobbs Ferry man was sentenced Thursday to six years in state prison for assaulting two...
Read More

Irvington High School Class of 2024 Graduates at Waterfront

By Rick Pezzullo--- Irvington High School celebrated its Class of 2024 during a commencement ceremony at Matthiessen Park on June...
Read More

Robbery Occurs at Chase Bank in Ardsley

This story was produced by the Rivertowns Current at: ( by Janine Annett-- At 9:24 AM, the Ardsley Police Department...
Read More
63 recommended
bookmark icon