April marks National Alcohol Awareness Month and is sponsored by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) to educate the masses about America’s #1 health problem: alcohol dependence. Alcohol addiction is a serious problem in the United States, and it’s something that isn’t talked about enough. More than 6 percent of adults in the U.S. have an alcohol use disorder, and alcohol addiction can start as early as 12 years old. An additional 623,000 people between the ages of 12 and 17 have alcohol use disorders. Every day, about 28 people in the United States die in drunk-driving crashes — that’s one person every 52 minutes. Of the 1,233 traffic deaths among children ages 0 to 14 years in 2016, 214 (17%) involved an alcohol-impaired driver.
What is alcoholism?
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) defines alcohol use disorder (AUD) as a “chronic relapsing brain disease characterized by compulsive alcohol use, loss of control over alcohol intake, and a negative emotional state when not using.”
Alcohol addiction is a serious problem, but it’s one that can be treated with the right help. With treatment, alcoholics can recover and live healthy, fulfilling lives. We hope this Alcohol Awareness Month will be a time for people to start conversations about alcohol addiction and prevention, and we encourage everyone to reach out if they need help.
Is it okay to get behind the wheel after drinking?
Let’s start with a true story. Henry Ruggs was a star football player. He played college football for three years at the University of Alabama and then went on to play at the professional level for the Las Vegas Raiders. He had a great career and future ahead of him. However, he destroyed his future, and killed an innocent woman when he decided to get behind the wheel of his vehicle after a night out. He is currently facing felony driving under the influence and reckless driving charges. He was driving 156 mph with a blood-alcohol content twice the legal limit in Nevada in the early-morning hours of Nov. 2, when his Corvette Stingray slammed into Tina Tintor’s Toyota RAV4, which burst into flames. Max, Tintor’s dog, was also killed in the crash.
The legal limit in Alabama is 0.08% BAC. Everyone’s body processes alcohol differently, depending on many factors. The safest and most responsible thing to do is not get behind the wheel, no matter how many drinks you had.
How to prevent drunk driving?
The best way to prevent drunk driving is to never drink and drive. Whatever it takes, make sure you do not drive drunk or even buzzed. Give your keys to a sober friend, and find a designated driver or call a safe ride.
- Talk to your kids. Education starts at home, and as a family member, you have the best access to the drivers in your home. Be sure that they understand the effects of alcohol and the life-shattering consequences it can have. The full impacts of drunk driving are enormous, and teens and new drivers must understand the grave responsibility they are being given.
- Use rideshare. Grabbing a sober ride is easier than ever, thanks to the addition of ridesharing companies. Services like Uber and Lyft are largely available throughout the U.S. and often at a much more affordable price than traditional taxi fare.
- Spend the night. Sometimes, the best thing to do if you are drunk is nothing at all. If you are at a safe place where you can stay until morning, it’s better to just sleep it off at a trusted friend’s house or nearby hotel than to risk driving home.
- Plan ahead. No matter what, make a plan (or a few) before you head out for your adventure. Try to find a place to stay in advance of your festivities so you’re able to make decisions with a clear mind. Options for planning also include asking a friend if you can crash or scheduling a designated driver to provide a ride home.
How does drunk driving impacts car insurance rates?
Your car insurance rates could go up if you are caught driving drunk. A DUI stays on your record for at least five years, and in some states, as long as 15 years. That means your alcohol-related incident will have long-lasting ramifications. Your best bet is to avoid a DUI altogether by not drinking if you plan on driving.
Drunk driving also comes with serious legal consequences.
- First-time offenders face imprisonment for up to one year, a fine of $600 to $2,100, or both. The driver’s license suspension period is 90 days. First-time offenders are also required to attend a DUI or substance abuse program.
- A person who commits a second DUI within five years of the first offense faces imprisonment, which may include hard labor, for up to one year. The imprisonment sentence shall include a mandatory sentence, which is not subject to suspension or probation, of imprisonment in the county or municipal jail for not less than five days or community service for not less than 30 days. The fine ranges from $1,100 to $5,100. The driver’s license revocation period is one year.
- On a third conviction, the offender faces a prison term, which may include hard labor, of up to one year. The imprisonment sentence shall not be less than 60 days. The fine ranges from $2,100 to $10,100. The driver’s license revocation period is three years.
- On a fourth or subsequent conviction, the offender faces a prison term of one year and one day to 10 years. The fine ranges from $4,100 to $10,100. The driver’s license revocation period is five years.
What to do if you or someone you know is struggling?
Getting drunk is never about drinking. Staying sober is not about not drinking. It’s about getting to the root of what alcohol is really numbing. It’s about finding a way to deal with life on life’s terms, instead of trying to escape from it. There are many ways to get involved in Alcohol Awareness Month. You can attend events, share your story, or donate to the cause.
It’s important to have open conversations about alcohol addiction and prevention, especially during Alcohol Awareness Month. Alcohol addiction can have many harmful effects, both on the individual struggling with addiction and those around them. That’s why it’s important to be aware of the signs of alcohol addiction and know where to turn for help if you or someone you know is struggling.
If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol addiction, there are resources available to help. Alcoholics Anonymous is a 12-step program that offers support and community for those struggling with alcoholism. There are also many rehab and treatment centers that specialize in alcohol addiction. If you are worried about someone you know, the best thing to do is to have a conversation with them about it. For more information on alcohol addiction and treatment, please visit the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism website.