ChapelAmid the festivities of the Holiday Season there are some important concerns that must not be ignored. When friends and family gather to celebrate and spend time together, alcohol and other mood altering substances are often found in abundance.  Too often the combination leads to tragic conclusions.

The numbers are both sobering and frightening.  It’s calculated that each year Americans get behind the wheel of their cars, impaired by drugs or alcohol, more than 156 million times.  They cause more than 700,000 injuries and a death every 30 minutes.  It time for us to start reversing this epidemic of irresponsible behavior.

We all need to take action.

  1. Appoint a designated driver.  Before you go out, decide who will be the driver.  That person must promise to abstain or use moderation, staying below the legal limit and assuming responsibility for a safe ride.
  2. Have a backup plan.  If the designated driver slips, have an alternative plan that ensures you are never in a car with an unsafe driver.
  3. Hide the keys.  If someone has been drinking or using, keep them off the road.  It’s better to have an angry friend than a dead one.
  4. Offer alternatives.  If you are the host, have appealing alternatives to drinking. And remember to have lots of food, as a full stomach slows the rate of alcohol absorption.
  5. Announce “last call” early.  Stop serving alcohol an hour or two before your guests leave.  Don’t let the effect of the last drink hit them as they are driving.
  6. Don’t blame only alcohol.  Drugs can impact driving ability as much as alcohol.  Marijuana, prescription meds, opiates and street drugs all have a devastating impact on driving skills.
  7. Report dangerous driving.  We all need to take responsibility for keeping our roads safe.  If you see a driver who seems impaired, keep a safe distance, and call 911.

For decades we have given lip service to the need to drive more responsibly, but our behavior has not reflected a significant improvement.  Let’s begin real change, and let it begin with us.

St. Joseph Institute for Addiction wishes you a safe and joy filled Christmas Season.