The NIAAA reports that college drinking is so widespread that about four out of five students drink and around half of those binge drink.

A mix of alcohol & acetamenophen is what killed Destin. Students need to be warned about these two "legal poisons!"

From singing for charity to his talented hobbies, visit his tribute page and learn more

about Destin James.

My Son, The College Statistic?

Destin was studying to be a Doctor of Chiropractic and little did he know, he was also training to be an alcoholic, drinking for eight years in college. After a long hard fight with a toxic liver he died of multiple organ failure that all started with "acetaminophen poisoning." Cause? A "legal poison" when you already have alcohol in your system. Yes, what we call simple Tylenol or acetaminophen. Now he is one of more than 150,000 college students that develop a health related issue with alcohol and one of 1,850 that die from alcohol related issues every year. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), reports that college drinking is so widespread that about four out of five students drink and around half of those binge drink. Each year college students fall into many of these statistics like my son Destin did.

  • Assault: More than 690,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are assaulted by another student who has been drinking.
  • Sexual Abuse: More than 97,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are victims of alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape.
  • Injury: 599,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 receive unintentional injuries while under the influence of alcohol.
  • Academic Problems: About 25 percent of college students report academic consequences of their drinking including missing class, falling behind, doing poorly on exams or papers, and receiving lower grades overall.
  • Suicide Attempts: Out of the 150,000 students who develop an alcohol-related health problem, between 1.2 and 1.5 percent of students indicate that they tried to commit suicide within the past year due to drinking or drug use. (NIAAA citation below)

As you may or may not know, "normal" college drinking means sampling hundreds of flavored vodkas, Jello shots, bong guzzling and jager bombs, among other things. Taking some aspirin before bed to keep from getting a hangover may be old news, but today, that safer aspirin is replaced with dangerous Tylenol. It has killed so many that the FDA made them put a warning on the bottle. But do college kids read this? Like my son, they all think they are infalible and they just don't know how dangerous it really is. There are over 600 drugs with acetaminophen in them that are available over the counter and by prescription. All of these are POISON when taken with alcohol. Students take sleep aids, allergy meds and many other things in college that contain this "legal poison." They may not be drinking with it, but what they don't know is any alcohol in their systems from a binge the night before could still be in their system mixing these two "legal poisons" to the consistency of death. For every ounce of beer, wine or straight liquor it takes your liver one hour to metabolize. So depending on how much they drink, it could be in their system as long as 20 hours or more. This is the hangover. Your brain is effected as well. Students go to class with hangovers all the time. Then enter the bad boy pain killers that are sold on the street and on campus. Vicodin, Norco and the new kid, Fentynol, also contain these acetaminophen killers. Fentynol is what they were giving Destin right before he died.

Destin told me he dabbled in a few things, thinking it wouldn't hurt him, but alcohol was always his "drug of choice."  He also told me he started drinking when he was a freshman in high school—a time of extreme peer pressure and bullying for him.  He said that drinking made him feel less depressed. And anyone who doesn't believe kids can find a way to buy alcohol when they are underage is sadly deceiving themselves. Today, fake IDs look pretty good. When he got into college "the drinking was fierce," he said. He had eight years of college, and before he knew it, he was hospitalized with a toxic liver. But it was a mixture of acetaminophen and alcohol that caused his liver to fail not just the fact he drank. The deadly combination then caused his kidneys to fail—He was admitted to the hospital and diagnosed with "Excessive Tylenol use." He also suffered a lot of mental abuse due to his newly discovered disease. Alcoholism. Destin found out first hand what it was like to be treated like a "no-good alcoholic." Both inside and outside of the hospital. Once he was released he was still very weak, but wanted to return to school. When he missed school they asked to see his medical records, then denied his financial aide to return. This put added stress on his life and the "alcoholic" mistreatment started to get more personal. He said this was when he was finally convinced it was a problem. The first sign of alcoholism is denial. Then his GI doctor made the dangerous mistake of telling him that the liver heals itself and he could have a beer or glass of wine, Destin soon relapsed. They teach you in AA, "just don't take the first drink" as they work the one-day-at-a-time program. The pressure of being denied school and being too weak to work a job finally got to him, and he relapsed. He went into the hospital with dehydration. Here he started a long chain of events that make up what I call the "The Destin James Story."

In 2014 Destin's destiny was unfolding, and it ended with the two long, painful months in ICU, MICU and CCU, and we are not talking universities here. What started his death spiral was when he checked into the same hospital again and they never pulled his records to know he had liver failure just four months earlier. I was not there to make sure they didn't give him any acetaminophen, since with the inflamed liver doctors told him last time that he had to treat this drug like a lethal allergen. As alcoholics are sometimes forced to believe they are depressed and that is why they drink, they gave him Prozac! He then had every side effect the acetaminophen-based drug can give you when you have an inflamed liver and started into this world of the most inconceivable drama of abuse, bad decisions and mistake after mistake. After 47 days he was finally coming back to us, when he developed an infection and died of septic shock.

Students may not recognize the symptoms of liver failure. First he gained weight form mostly fluid retention and then his eyes and skin turned yellow with jaundice, then he started itching all over. His liver and kidneys were failing. He was very near death and taking anything he could to feel better including pain killers. When he first went in to the hospital we were texting back and forth. Was I shocked that he started reaching out to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) from his bedside in the hospital? No. I'd given him every brochure I could think of when he got out of the hospital the last time. Destin was smart, and he didn't like the way everyone was treating him, and the last thing he wanted was to die. He fought long and hard, but it seemed like nothing went his way. No matter how hard we prayed, it was as he was destined to die. The bizarre things that started happening to him were beyond his and my control. All because no one knew he was given acetaminophen or that it would be deadly for him. Before all the bizarre things started happening, we visited an online AA group, and he found us both an online copy of the AA Big Book. He talked about how his school was starting soon before he went into ICU then knowing they would deny him entrance again after he came out he talked about how he would like to do public speaking and warn other college students about the dangers of these "legal poisons." He was also a huge fan of The Five Wishes, a power of attorney drawn up for when you can't speak for yourself, since all the "next of kin" drama (You will read about in my book) made his recovery that much harder. He couldn't wait to get his own control back and "walk out of there a new man" he told me. First I would take him to a doctor in New Mexico that is famous for healing scarred livers, then he had a plan and was looking forward to playing disc golf wherever his bookings took him. All the tubes may have ended his singing, but now he had another job to do. To use all the pictures I took and go out and warn the other students. But Destin never got to take his message public. He died November 1, 2014. He was almost there! Why all the setbacks? Why was it that our prayers worked just enough to talk to him and know his plans. We joked about him actually dying when we were filling out The Five Wishes. He wanted me to have power of attorney, and this was the part of how he wants to be taken care of after his death. This is the only way I knew he wanted to be cremated and his ashes spread up in northern Michigan on our summer lake property where he spent summers as a child. But then just after we had two witnesses come into his room to witness that he signed it, he started slipping away again. He asked us in ICU to find a doctor to come in and give a second opinion which was supplied, but only by their own staff of doctors, so we finally filled his request and hired and outside doctor to come in to see what the setback was this time. I no longer believed any of them. He was in God's hands now.  The doctor called it perpetual shock. He was dying. Only a miracle would save him, and it obviously wasn't going to happen. He was healing so well and moving away from critical care, then an obvious infection developed while he was in ICMU and it was what started shutting his organs down one at a time. He was SO brave, and of course well educated as to whose arms he would be in if he died. Then he left us one organ at a time after spending the worst two months of his life both physically and mentally.. His warm, loving heart was the last organ to go.

As Destin's mother, I feel like he is still with me and leading me to go on with his plan to educate other students on the dangers of "legal poisons" and how easily these drugs and circumstances surrounding them, can and will  kill people. I slowly came around to accepting that God was in control of it all. Through all the pain, memories and grief I knew I had to put his campaign together. First I finished my M.S. in instructional technology and design (oddly?) and graduated with honors so my sons would be proud of their old mom. Then I was ready to dedicate myself to Destin's cause. I raised both my boys to believe that all things happen in God's timing, and there is a reason for everything.  I am reminded now that what I have learned through the years as an entertainer, Nashville recording artist, illustrator/animator and songwriter, can all be part of this venture. I am taking my ADD-filled life and using everything I can to capture the hearts of students everywhere. I will use modern animation and game-filled instructional media for a memorable presentation called The Destin James Story, and getting this out to as many students as possible will be how I want to live the rest of my life.

I soon realized how painfully hard this is to do, constantly reliving every horrible part, but I know it is necessary. Maybe one of the students I reach could even be yours! I can do the media work, and have my share of experience in public speaking, but I still wondered how I was supposed to get the students to listen to yet another warning about drugs and alcohol, or even show up for it. In college sometimes attendance isn't mandatory and I didn't want to look stupid up there with an audience of three people. I am a singing ventriloquist, so my girlfriend suggested I use one of my puppets or dummies.  All I needed was to be more confident in myself that I could carry it off. I remembered before I did a show for 1400 people at the Kellogg Arena, it was Destin that made me feel like I could actually do it. He said, "You can do this, Mom. You are really good at singing without moving your lips, and the funniest person I know." Remembering this, he put me on a huge guilt trip ("paybacks are hell, Mom!") when it became clear that this is my purpose in life and he had to die for it all to happen. So I toughened up and put his story together with all the facts and pictures and used his own marketing title of; "acetaminophen is not your drinking buddy,"  Using a dummy is always a great idea, because I feel more comfortable having someone to blame my mistakes on, but venting is mostly comedy and I am still heartbroken over such a loss. I just keep telling myself that no good work comes without sacrifice.

Once it was clear why this all happened and how I was going to deal with it, all things started coming together. Usually wooden stick figures are way over my budget, but I ran across a special vent "doll" that I could afford and named him "DJ." He looks a lot like Destin when he was younger and he always loved that nickname. I gave it a makeover and together, we started working on the show. He gave me ideas for college aged students that "only a Mom can pull off" he would say.

The Destin James Story is a new educational show no one would want to miss. All we need now are people who believe in what we are doing to help us finance our efforts.I have Destin's trailer, but I need a reliable truck or van to pull it with and then we are on our way! Using the trailer, we will have our campaign office and media studio everywhere we go. We also need funding for all the brochures and DVDs we'll make up to distribute on campus where ever we go.

I know that it will always be painfully hard to do this, constantly reliving every horrible part, but I am still only laughing on the outside and I have been trained by the best, one I am sure many of you know, Jeff Dunham and then many other great vents including Terry Fator.  I am grateful for all the tips and training, because I feel like this is the type of entertainment the college students will enjoy and hopefully be more open to hearing his story and heeding its warnings. I am blessed because I can say  things that I know Destin would say, and do things he would do with DJ.

He even made me laugh when he first said; "If they won't listen to a dead guy, who will they listen to?"


NIAAA, May10, 2016, College Drinking

Acetaminophen is NOT Your Drinking Buddy!

Destin is one of more than 150,000 college students that develop a health related issue with alcohol and one of 1,850 that die from alcohol related issues every year.

The Destin James Story

Destin James Walch  9/28/87 - 11/01/14

There are over 600 drugs, both OIC and RX that contain

acetaminophen. After binge drinking the alcohol remains in your system and then taking simple Tylenol can and will kill our students! There are also the illegal poisons circulating on the street and on campus. These bad boys are  painkillers used to replace the popular Vicodin. Norco and the newest, Fentynol.

The Destin James Story now booking colleges and high schools nationwide.