Super Bowl Sunday commercials often get more notice that the games. Nine years ago when I was in the Holy Land over Super Bowl Sunday, we watched the ESPN feed in Jerusalem minus the commercials. It lost a lot.

A couple of years ago you may remember the disturbing Public Service Announcement about heroin addiction that was only shown in the St. Louis metropolitan area. If you missed the spot, it is a black and white commercial with a folk rock sound- track. The song is bouncy and jaunty, but the images are anything but, as a young man succumbs to heroin as his mother brings home the groceries. The juxtaposition of a cute little song (which lyrics are very disturbing) and the tragedy that plays out in thirty seconds is jarring. There was a lot of talk whether it was appropriate for the occa- sion of a Super Bowl. (When is a good time to talk about this?) Some people liked that the ad drew attention to a serious problem, some people felt that it trivialized it, and some thought that having an ad like that during the Super Bowl was not right.

I disagree with the latter opinions. There is never a good time to talk about this problem and why not during the most watched pro- gram of the year.

A couple of years ago, days after Christmas, I was called to the house of a former student who had overdosed on heroin. It was not a pleasant experience. The aftermath of that death was brutal. There were many of this young man’s classmates who were emotion- ally kicking themselves for not doing more to try to stop him from self-destruction. Many of them are still haunted. The son of a good friend of mine died from a fentanyl overdose a couple of years back, and another ex- student just died in January. When I per- sonally know three people in the last seven years who have died of drug over- doses, it is a problem. 

The sad fact is that there are people in this world who are interested in making money off the sorrow and tragedy of others getting hooked on drugs. No place in the St. Louis area is immune from this scourge.

When I was at Borgia High School, we at- tempted to put policies in place to stem the tide of drug usage and addiction. Believe it or not, we ran into a fair amount of re- sistance, but most of our parents were be- hind the effort. We are doing this not to be punitive and catch kids doing bad things, but to bring them to the fullness of health and life. Teenagers’ brains are not fully formed. Their pre-frontal cortex will not fully develop until around age 23 or so, which means they will try some risky stuff. If we can guide them to do life-giving risky stuff instead of drugs, I will have felt I have done my duty here on earth. If you know some- one who needs help call a hotline or find someone who will know what to do.

This scourge is real and dangerous.

Fr. Kevin

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