When autopsy results came back on a 16-year-old Orinda boy who died at a house party where teenagers had been drinking, two findings took investigators by surprise.
Joseph Loudon's blood-alcohol level was only 0.03 percent, which was low considering reports that hard liquor seemed to be in ample supply at the May 23 party, held at the home of a friend who lived on the same street as Joseph's mother. A 0.08 percent level constitutes drunken driving.
And his body showed high levels of papaverine, a prescription medication commonly used to treat erectile dysfunction.
That led to the natural question: Why was a 16-year-old boy using a drug typically prescribed for impotent middle-aged men?
It's not known whether Joseph was using the drug recreationally, whether someone slipped it to him in a drink, or whether there is another explanation. Combined, the erectile drug and the alcohol caused Joseph to throw up, and he choked on his vomit, the Contra Costa County coroner found.
Hopefully the senselessness of the tragedy forms a lesson that helps some others avoid such a tragedy.
Alcohol is a bore, albeit a well-understood means of altering body chemistry. Getting experimental with medications like that moves beyond boredom into the realm of the stupid, occasionally reaching the suicidal.
Just say yest to means of having fun that are morally, mentally, physically, and spiritually healthy, as well as productive. The number of those is around a bazillion.