Drinking while driving is a year-round threat, but it can be especially dangerous during the holidays. That’s why Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) is putting on their Tie One on for Safety event from now until the end of the year. This seasonal event encourages everyone to take steps to stop their loved ones from drinking and driving.
Today, we’re going to talk about the connection between drunk driving and alcohol addiction. But first, let’s take a look at the dangers of drinking and driving and what MADD is doing to stop it.
The Real Dangers of Drinking and Driving
First, let’s define what drunk driving is. This can include things like drinking while driving, drinking many alcoholic beverages and driving while drunk, and driving while “buzzed.” Any form of intoxication is dangerous when you’re behind the wheel, and all of these types of intoxicated driving qualify as drunk driving.
Unfortunately, many people struggle with avoiding drinking and driving. According the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 10,497 people died from alcohol-related driving accidents in 2016 alone. And it isn’t only drunk people who are put in danger by drunk driving. In one year, 214 children ages 0-14 died in traffic accidents involving an impaired driver.
This is why drinking and driving is dangerous; it costs lives. Thousands of people die from impaired driving every year, including 29 people every day. That means one death every 50 minutes. And while the loss of life is terrible, it is not the only danger of drinking and driving. Another one of the ways that drinking and driving affects others is by costing individuals $44 billion in damages every year. In this way, intoxicated driving takes an astronomical toll every year.
Thankfully, there are ways you can help yourself and others avoid the dangers of drunk driving this holiday season.
Stopping Drunk Driving During the Holidays
Contrary to popular belief, you do not have to be an alcoholic to drink and drive. In fact, many people partake in alcohol abuse, even if they don’t have a substance use disorder. For example, many people engage in binge drinking, and even though it’s a dangerous form of alcohol abuse, that does not guarantee that an individual has an addiction. Similarly, anyone can contribute to the dangers of drinking and driving, even without an alcohol addiction.
For that reason, MADD is encouraging everyone to designate a sober driver for their holiday gatherings. People want to have fun during the holidays, but it’s important to keep safety at the forefront. In addition to choosing a designated driver, try offering mocktails or other alcohol-free beverages. When you don’t make alcohol a central part of your celebrations, it becomes easier for everyone to enjoy themselves without feeling pressure to drink. And if any of your guests are in recovery, they’ll appreciate your consideration for their needs.
In addition to these effective strategies, have conversations about drunk driving with the people you care about. Nobody wants to think of themselves as a drunk driver, but many people don’t realize how dangerous “lesser” offenses like buzzed driving are. By sharing information about the real dangers of drunk driving, you can help protect the people you care about.
And for those who struggle with not drinking, it may be time to re-evaluate their relationship with alcohol. Because while drunk driving does not guarantee that someone has an alcohol addiction, it is certainly associated with a higher risk of addiction.
Stopping Drunk Driving for Good
If you’re not sure if you have an alcohol addiction, that’s okay. Many people struggle with identifying alcohol abuse vs. alcohol addiction. While both involve drinking alcohol in unsafe ways, the effects of alcohol abuse and alcohol addiction are very different.
If you occasionally abuse alcohol, you might wake up with hangovers on the weekends or send some embarrassing texts that you regret the next morning. The thing that separates alcohol abuse from alcoholism is the ability to control you’re drinking. And if you’re reading this and thinking that you’re only abusing alcohol rather than addicted to it, that is still a dangerous sign. Alcohol abuse can easily turn into addiction, and occasionally weekend binges can become more and more frequent before you know it.
For this reason, whether you know you have a substance use disorder or are abusing alcohol, you may need treatment for alcoholism. If you struggle to avoid drinking and driving, then your drinking is already outside of your control. And that’s not a personal failing, but it does mean that you need help. Quitting alcohol is a big challenge, but remember, you’re not in this alone.
To explore your treatment options, call our admissions specialists at 888-512-9802 or ask your questions online. No matter what you decide to do, drive responsibly this holiday season so that everyone can enjoy their celebrations safely and without worry.