National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month

National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month

President Obama will soon proclaim December as National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month. Quoting from his November 30, 2011 Proclamation, “…our Nation continues to suffer an unacceptable loss of life from traffic accidents that involve drugs, alcohol, and distracted driving. To bring an end to these heartbreaking outcomes, we must take action by promoting rigorous enforcement measures and effective substance abuse prevention programs. During National Impaired Driving Prevention Month, we recommit to preventing tragedy before it strikes by ensuring our family members and friends stay safe, sober, and drug-free on the road.”

National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month is celebrated annually in December. What can you do in the next few weeks to support the intent of this very important national celebration month?

For many, it’s impossible to understand why such a proclamation and celebration month is necessary. For many, it’s a surprise to know how little it takes. Based on the weight variable alone, a person’s BAC (blood alcohol content) will likely be .08 or higher with the following quantities/time period:

  • 110-129 lbs: 2 drinks in an hour or less
  • 130-149 lbs:  3 drinks in 2 hours or less
  • 170-189 lbs:  4 drinks in 2 hours or less

Many people ask, “How is it that a person can even ‘think’ they’re good to drive once they’ve been drinking?” And it’s that question that also carries part of the answer – the word, ‘think.’

When a person drinks more than the liver can process (metabolize), that person can no longer “think” straight. Why? Because alcohol is not processed like other foods and liquids. It bypasses the digestive system and moves into the small intestine and from there into the bloodstream where it travels to body organs and tissue high in water content and highly vascularized (meaning lots of blood vessels) – like the brain. Alcohol leaves the body (is metabolized) by the liver. It takes the liver ABOUT one hour to metabolize one standard drink. Therefore, 4 drinks will take 4 hours, and while each drink waits its turn out the liver, it “sits” in the brain where it impairs neural networks and therefore a person’s ability to “think” straight and act responsibly. [Note: gender, age, medications, weight, stage of brain development all influence how quickly alcohol is metabolized and how alcohol impairs one person's brain vs another person's. Therefore, the one drink per hour is a very rough average.]

What Can You Do to Support National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month?

Beyond the obvious admonition, “Don’t drink and drive,” here are five suggestions for doing your part to raise awareness and support National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month:

1. Familiarize yourself with the definition of a standard drink of each of the various alcoholic beverages, as well as the numbers of standard drinks/cocktail or drink container. This can help you decide when to intervene on a friend’s behalf, for example. It can also be a point of conversation leading up to a celebratory night on the town.

2.  Understand how alcohol changes the brain and why staying within low-risk drinking limits is so important. These limits, for example, help a person’s liver keep up with metabolizing the quantity of alcohol consumed and thereby allowing the person to stay in control of his/her brain and therefore his/her thoughts and actions.

3.  Understand how brain changes are caused by binge drinking or heavy social drinking, in addition to alcoholism (addiction). In fact, most people who drive while impaired are NOT alcoholics. Rather, they are alcohol abusers.  “How Much is Too Much? At-Risk Drinking Patterns Explained.”

4.  Learn how it’s possible for a person to drink and “choose” to drive. “DUI – Is It a Choice or an Accident?” This can help you protect yourself from the drinking behaviors that occur when a person who drinks too much.

5.  Advocate for standard drink labels on alcoholic beverage containers and on restaurant and bar menus. Click here for details.

And for information specific to drugged driving and why it’s so difficult to cite a person under the influence of drugs, consider reading “Drugged Driving.”

Lisa Frederiksen

Lisa Frederiksen

Author Speaker Consultant Owner at BreakingTheCycles.com
Author of nine books and hundreds of articles, Lisa Frederiksen is a national keynote speaker, consultant and founder of BreakingTheCycles.com. She has spent more then a decade researching, writing, speaking and consulting on substance abuse prevention, mental illness, addiction as a brain disease, dual diagnosis, secondhand drinking | drugging, help for the family and related subjects – all centered around 21st century brain and addiction-related research. Her clients (some as far as Kenya, Slovenia and Mexico), include: individuals, families, military troops and personnel, U.S. Forest Service districts and regions, medical school students, businesses, social workers, parent and student groups, family law attorneys, treatment providers and the like. Visit www.BreakingTheCycles.com for details. Please feel free to call Lisa at 650-362-3026 or email her at lisaf@breakingthecycles.com.

24 Responses to National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month

  1. BarbaraJPeters says:

    Your are doing such great work. Thank you for bringing this subject to light so that we can all understand it better. This is a great cause to support.

  2. Liz Bigger says:

    I think this is a good thing! I think that alcohol, drugs and distracted driving needs to be addressed as a society and think we need a big campaign to get the public to make other arrangements if intoxicated (in advance) and to put down/away distractions when driving. Cars are several thousands lbs. of killing machine and people need to “think straight” before they climb in!

  3. Liz Bigger says:

    This is a good thing!

  4. Great post, Lisa! Thanks for sharing the importance of not drinking (or drugging) and driving. We all need to be responsible and plan ahead if we are going to drink and need to get home. This message cannot be repeated enough. Planning ahead for a designated driver or taking a cab are two simple solutions. There is no excuse for this lack of “thinking.”

  5. Sherie says:

    Here in Alberta, our province has passed a “one drink limit” law for driving. After that, they can seize your vehicle and I think that is a good thing. We also have a distracted driving law. This is a very important topic at all times of the year and especially now as holiday season approaches. I will be sharing.

    • That’s a great law, and I agree the distracted driving is a huge problem, as well! Thanks for sharing this with your readers/followers, Sherie!

    • I’ve never heard of that law, and it’s great they seize one’s vehicle for exceeding the limit. You’re so right about distracted driving being an equally HUGE problem. Thanks for passing this along to your readers / followers, Sherie!

  6. Anita says:

    Educate. Educate. We can’t change the world overnight but we can put our best foot forward and if we are all doing our part then it all adds up! Great work you are doing :)

  7. Olga Hermans says:

    wow, that are stunning statistics. Many people suffer from alcoholism without even knowing…thanks for sharing

  8. Incredible article! So many people suffer without even knowing or admitting they have a problem. Thanks for bringing this to light! God bless you.

  9. Alicia Jay says:

    I love the actionable steps you’ve given us to educate ourselves and spread the word, Lisa. I’ll be sharing them!

  10. Your post really highlights how difficult is to be certain of staying under the legal limit if you are going to drink. There are so many different variables, so the only way to be certain is not to drink (or take drugs) at all if you are driving.
    Thanks Lisa!

  11. [...] “I’m grateful for to have finally understood the disease of addiction so that I could do the recovery work I needed in order to enjoy my life to its fullest – something I’m grateful to be doing today.” Lisa Frederiksen, Breaking the Cycles. [...]

  12. Nice post Lisa. You are doing a good job. People should take care of these things to avoid road accident and DUI/DWI case. They can make their record clean with Criminal Attorney but no one can return their lost.
    With your post one can come to know why he should not drink and drive. Thank you for sharing such a nice post.
    Darrick Martin recently posted…Houston Traffic Ticket Lawyers can give you justice in the courtMy Profile

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