Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol: Drunk Driving Statistics

by Felicia Lowe

Everyone knows that driving drunk or under the influence of drugs is a dangerous and inconsiderate action that endangers not only the driver but the safety and lives of others as well. And yet, a staggering number of accidents and fatalities still happen every year due to impaired driving. Driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious criminal offense defined as managing a vehicle while alcohol, drugs, or both are in your system. Since these substances are frequently addictive, it can be particularly hard for those who are reliant on these substances to avoid using them, even when they are about to get behind the wheel. For these people, it’s important to get drug and alcohol treatment before they harm themselves or others. If they are arrested for and convicted of DUI, often, a court will make the decision for them by ordering them to complete an addiction treatment program.

Blood Alcohol Concentration Facts

Facts About Driving Under the Influence

Talking to Your Kids About Driving Under the Influence

  • Teenage Drinking: Understanding the Dangers and Talking to Your Child: More than half of those younger than 21 in the U.S. have tried alcohol, which exposes them to many risk factors.
  • Facts About Teenage Drinking and Driving: According to Students Against Destructive Decisions, or SADD, the fatality rate of alcohol-related incidents in young adults ages 18-20 is twice as high as that of those older than 21.
  • Seven Ways to Stop Teens From Drinking and Driving: This article reports that having a plan, including establishing rules and consequences, having a secret code word or phrase with your teen, or having them sign a written contract, can help prevent teens from driving drunk or riding with a drunk driver.
  • Talking to Your Child About Drugs: Acting out different scenarios with your kids through role-playing can help them know how to act and what to say if they ever encounter a situation where they might be endangered by drugs or alcohol.
  • How to Talk to Your Child About Marijuana: This page suggests four responses to common things your teen might say or ask about marijuana. When it comes to marijuana, many kids know that it is legal in some places, but make sure they understand that it is still illegal for many people and it is also illegal to drive under the influence of marijuana.
  • Drugs and Driving: Studies show that about one in five parents and a third of teens believe that driving under the influence of marijuana isn’t as bad as drunk driving.
  • Driving After Using Marijuana: This page provides information on why driving after using marijuana is not safe.
  • Preventing Impaired Driving in Your Teen: If parents are proactive about helping teens to avoid drinking and setting consequences for them, it can help reduce the likelihood that they’ll end up driving drunk.
  • When Should You Talk to Your Kids About Alcohol? The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents start the conversation about alcohol with their kids well before the age at which they might be tempted to try it.
  • Help Teens Avoid Regret: Having an open dialogue with your teen is key to helping them avoid the dangers of impaired driving, whether they’re the potential driver or passenger.

Teaching Kids About the Dangers of Drug and Alcohol Abuse

by Felicia Lowe

With drug and alcohol addiction being a problem in communities around the world, it is important to educate children on the dangers of abuse. When children are not educated on the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse, they are at a greater risk of experimenting with drugs and engaging in other unsafe behaviors. When parents themselves are educated on the effects of drug and alcohol use, they are able to give children correct information and clear up any misinformation. Parents and educators act as role models for children and their views can greatly influence how children think about things.

Tips for Speaking to Younger Children

Parents should begin speaking to kids about the dangers of drugs as young as preschool age. This does not need to be complicated discussion, rather, teachable moments should be taken advantage of. For instance, if a child sees someone smoking on television, parents can take the opportunity to speak to children in simple terms about how such behaviors can cause harm. The tone of the discussion should be kept calm and simple terms should be used when speaking with younger children.

As kids begin to get older, parents and educators can begin having talks with kids about drugs and alcohol. Children can be engaged by asking them open-ended questions in a nonjudgmental manner. Speaking to kids in a nonjudgmental way makes it more likely that they will respond to questions honestly. When parents openly speak with children between the ages of eight and twelve, it helps to keep the door open for dialogue when they enter their teen years. For children of this age, it may be helpful to reference current events in conversation and use these talks to inform kids about the risks of drug and alcohol abuse.

Talking to Teens About Drug and Alcohol Abuse

Once kids enter their teen years, the odds increase that they will know other kids who have experimented with drugs or alcohol. If teens feel comfortable speaking to parents, they may be willing to share their thoughts and ask specific questions about drug and alcohol use. Teens can understand the dangers of driving under the influence and the consequences of using drugs and alcohol, including jail time. These things should all be discussed with them. It can be helpful to create a contract with rules about going out or driving so that teens know exactly what behavior is expected of them.

No one is completely immune to the effects of drugs and alcohol. Even kids who have been given the proper guidance by parents can end up in trouble. Certain groups of kids, however, may be more likely to use drugs or alcohol than others. Children who have friends who use drugs or alcohol may be more likely to try it themselves. Kids who feel socially isolated may also be more likely to try drugs. To prevent kids from experimenting with drugs, parents need to be involved in children’s lives. Parents should know who their children hang around with and should even make an effort to get to know the parents of these children. When parents are involved, they are more likely to be able to identify when kids are dealing with difficult situations and can lend more support.

While parents often play the biggest role in keeping kids from using drugs and alcohol, educators can be equally important. Many schools run anti-drug programs that aim to inform kids about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse. Parents can even go so far as to get involved with the school and any such programs. When parents are involved in kids lives and are willing to educate themselves in order to better educate their children, the chances of children trying drugs or alcohol can be greatly decreased.

Additional Information on Speaking to Children About Drugs and Alcohol

The Opioid Epidemic in the United States Infographic

Sales of prescription opioids in the United States has nearly quadrupled from 1999-2014, yet there has been no overall increase in the amount of pain that Americans report. Despite the increase in doctors who specialize in chronic and acute pain, about half of opioid prescriptions are given by primary care physicians. Most people who end up abusing prescription opioids get them for free from friends or relatives. However, those at the highest risk of overdose (abusing prescription opioids non-medically 200+ days annually) get them through different means. These people get them through their own prescriptions (27%), from friends and relatives for free (26%), buying from friends and relatives (23%), or buying from a drug dealer (15%). This infographic examines overall and opioid overdose rates by state and examines the percent change from the previous year to reveal what states are in the most danger.

The Opioid Epidemic in the United States - TrueRecovery.com - Infographic

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This is Your Body and Mind on Drugs

Every year, tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drug use costs the United States over $700 billion in health care, crime, and lost productivity. But it’s the personal cost of drug abuse that can have the greatest impact – the cost that family, friends, and loved ones suffer when someone they care about falls victim to addiction. In 2009, 9.3% of people over twelve years old surveyed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration required treatment for an illicit drug or alcohol abuse problem – that’s 23.5 million people. Of those, only 11.2% actually received the treatment that they needed. It is a frightening and sad fact that we are likely to know someone in our own lives who is struggling with illicit drugs or alcohol. It is sadder to realize how rare it is for those struggling with addiction to get help.

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Of those admitted to substance abuse treatment programs in 2008, the majority were admitted for troubles with alcohol or alcohol in combination with another substance. We don’t think of alcohol as the quickest killer or the most dangerous drug. Opiates and heroin, addiction to which is also an epidemic in America, can have more deadly overdoses and overdoses can be more common. But the long-term effects of alcohol are still very dangerous and include heart disease, brain damage, liver damage, and more.

 

As you can see on this infographic, the most well-known illicit drugs have both dangerous short-term and long-term effects. If you’re looking for reasons not to do drugs, both the short-term and long-term effects should provide ample excuses. The short-term feelings of euphoria that come with bath salts, for example, are paired with the long-term risk of overdose and death, increased blood pressure, depression, psychosis, and more.

One illicit drug with a shocking set of short-term effects is Desomorphine, which is better known by its street name Krokodil. Like a lot of other illicit drugs on this infographic, Krokodil is not just dangerous because of what it is in its pure form – it is also dangerous because, on the street, it can be cut with wood shavings, rat poison, and other dangerous chemicals to lower its price. Krokodil is injected into the blood stream, and the injection sites often become infected. This is the source of the most horrifying images associated with Krokodil. Limbs and injection sites begin to rot, causing a person to turn into a walking corpse. Bones and internal organs become visible and exposed to the environment, hastening a person’s painful death. Worst of all, Krokodil is extremely addictive.

You don’t have to travel to Russia, where Krokodil is most prevalent, to see the horrifying effects that illicit drugs can have on the body, though. Heroin and anabolic steroids are also injected into the blood stream, and those injection sites can become infected and gangrenous as well. Sharing needles is common among people addicted to these types of drugs, which can result in the spread of HIV and AIDs.

Other drugs are inhaled through the nose, like cocaine and bath salts. These drugs can result in the deterioration of the nasal cavity and the whole nose. It’s no surprise, either, that these drugs have a profound effect on our brain chemistry; memory loss, psychosis, depression, insomnia, and more are just a few of the negative effects.

However they are consumed, these illicit drugs result in the body breaking down and being destroyed. We only have one body and much of the damage that these drugs cause is long-lasting or even permanent. Some recovery is possible, depending on the extent that the drug was used and how diligently sobriety can be maintained. It’s best to avoid these drugs entirely – but if one is already a user, the best thing to do is to seek treatment and begin a recovery as soon as possible with a qualified expert.

Healthy Mind and Body: A Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Guide

by Felicia Lowe

Mental health is an important part of living an overall healthy and happy life, but many people don’t understand what the term “mental health” encompasses. Mental health involves our emotional, social, and psychological state. People who suffer from mental health disorders might experience problems with their mood or behavior. For example, they may sleep too much or too little, have mood swings that are so severe that they affect personal relationships, or begin abusing drugs or alcohol, a problem that may become so severe that it requires treatment at an alcohol or (drug rehab center).

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one out of every five adults in the U.S. will experience a mental health disorder each year, and one out of five teens will experience a severe mental disorder at some point in their life. Sadly, only about 41 percent of adults who suffer from a mental health condition will receive treatment. This is because people often don’t want to talk about their struggles with depression or other mental health problems because they feel ashamed or they are afraid. They may also be concerned about the stigma that can be attached to mental health disorders and the way it may make others perceive them. While there are many consequences of not receiving treatment for a mental health issue, one of the worst consequences is suicide, which is the tenth most common cause of death in the U.S. and the second most common cause of death for people ages 15-24. Because suicide is so prevalent, it is important that people become educated on the signs and symptoms of suicide, how to prevent a suicide, and what to do if someone they know attempts suicide.

Noticing the Signs

People who are contemplating suicide may exhibit signs that indicate that they are having suicidal thoughts. Some common signs are talking about death or making comments about killing themselves, giving away possessions, or engaging in harmful behaviors. While some signs may be obvious, others are more subtle but are still cause for concern. Being able to recognize who is at risk for suicide and what to watch for may help you to save a life.

  • Risk Factors and Warning Signs: The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention provides information about what causes people to attempt suicide and what to watch for.
  • Suicide in Teens and Children: Read about the warning signs and risk factors for teens and children at risk for suicide.
  • Recognizing Warning Signs: Violence Prevention Works organizes the warning signs of suicide using the acronym FACTS to make them more memorable and easier to recognize.
  • Nonverbal Warning Signs: Johns Hopkins University & Health System describes some of the nonverbal signs that may indicate that a person is at risk for suicide. This page includes a video about awareness and prevention.
  • Suicide Symptoms in Military Members: This page from the Military Health System and the Defense Health Agency includes a list of symptoms to watch for in service members, military family members, and veterans.
  • Drug and Alcohol Abuse and Suicide in Veterans: Learn how drug and alcohol abuse relate to an increased risk of suicide in veterans.
  • Suicidal Behavior: Find out how many people are affected by suicide and how to spot the signs.
  • Suicide Often Not Preceded by Warnings: Harvard Medical School presents an article about suicides for which there were no warning signs.
  • How to Tell if You or a Friend Needs Help: View 12 signs that may indicate that you or a friend is at risk for suicide and four signs that require immediate action.
  • Stages of Suicide: Read the stages of suicide and learn about verbal and active clues.

Precautions You Can Take

If you are worried about someone in your life killing themselves or if you are having suicidal thoughts yourself, there are things you can do to help make a difference and avoid a suicide attempt. Probably the most important thing you can do is to take the situation seriously and get help. People often think that someone who talks about killing themselves is not serious or just seeking attention, or they may think someone else will do something about it. However, when neither of these things are true, the result is a terrible tragedy. Understanding that you can help and what you can do to help are important steps in helping to prevent suicide.

  • Ask Care Treat (ACT): ACT is the U.S. Navy’s model for suicide prevention. It encourages sailors to watch for signs of suicide and to act quickly to get help.
  • Dealing With Suicidal Thoughts: The Mayo Clinic provides advice for those who are struggling with suicidal thoughts.
  • What to Do if You See Signs of Suicidal Behavior: WebMD lists steps to take if you believe someone is in immediate danger of committing suicide.
  • Be That One: The University of Texas at Austin explains barriers that sometimes prevent people from intervening when they suspect that someone is considering suicide as well as actions you can take to help someone who is struggling.
  • Suicide Prevention in a Hospital or Clinic: Learn how medical providers recognize and prevent suicide in hospital and clinic settings.
  • Understanding Suicidal Thinking (PDF): Read a guide written for people with depression or bipolar disorder and their families that focuses on understanding why suicidal thoughts occur, what to do about them, and how to prevent suicide.
  • Safety Plan: If you are having suicidal thoughts, find out how to make a safety plan to protect yourself.
  • Help for Members of the LGBTQ Community: The It Gets Better Project provides support to LGBTQ people who are in crisis.
  • Suicide Prevention Lifeline: The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available to people within the United States who are contemplating suicide or who are worried about a loved one.
  • Ten Things Parents Can Do to Prevent Suicide: The American Academy of Pediatrics offers a list of things parents can do to prevent a teen from attempting suicide.

What to Do After an Attempt

Sometimes, a person does not exhibit noticeable signs that they are thinking about suicide, and sometimes, all of our best efforts to prevent an attempt fail. Coping with a suicide attempt is hard not only for the person who made the attempt but also for the friends and family who may be left feeling guilty or experiencing grief. When this is the case, there are ways you can help yourself and your loved ones move past a suicide attempt and regain mental wellness.

  • Help for a Family Member (PDF): The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has published a pamphlet that helps family members through the process of helping a loved one who has attempted suicide. The pamphlet includes information about what to do in the emergency room, questions to ask about follow-up care, and what to do next.
  • Providing Support: Find out how to help someone who has attempted suicide, and learn about unhelpful reactions to avoid.
  • What Not to Say: Read an article that advises people about what not to say to people whose loved ones have attempted suicide and provides better alternatives for talking about a suicide attempt.
  • A Guide to Taking Care of Yourself (PDF): This guide is written for people who have attempted suicide and provides information about how to take care of themselves to begin healing and prevent future attempts.
  • A Guide for Health Care Providers (PDF): Learn how health care providers who work in emergency rooms can help people who are admitted for an attempt.
  • Surviving After Suicide (PDF): The American Association of Suicidology offers a fact sheet for people with a loved one who has committed suicide. The fact sheet discusses grief and provides resources for help.
  • Guiding Their Way Back: This helpful guide provides information for those seeking to support someone as they recover from a suicide attempt.
  • Coping After a Suicide (PDF): Families for Depression Awareness published this guide for families with a family member who has committed suicide. The guide provides information for understanding emotions and strategies for coping with grief.
  • Information and Support After a Suicide Attempt (PDF): The Department of Veterans Affairs presents a resource guide for families of veterans with resources for support.
  • Support Groups for Survivors: If you have lost a loved one to suicide, find a support group in your area to help you cope.

Other Mental Health Resources

  • Service Member’s Guide to Suicide (PDF): This guide helps military members to recognize the signs and risk factors of suicide and provides techniques for helping those who exhibit signs and resources for getting immediate help.
  • What Suicidal Depression Feels Like: Understanding more about how suicidal people feel can help you provide more effective support.
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI): NAMI is an organization that provides education and advocacy for mental health issues. They are nationwide and have local affiliates across the United States.
  • Depression, Anxiety, and Stress (PDF): The Men’s Health Network created this guide to mental health for men.
  • You Can’t Always See Suicidal Intent: For those close to someone who attempted or died by suicide, it’s important to realize that it’s not always easy to pick up on or prevent the potential for a suicide attempt.
  • Locate a Psychologist: Use this psychologist locator to find a psychologist in your area who can help your family through mental health issues.
  • Help for Teens: OK2Talk is a place for teens to get help for mental health problems.
  • Mental Health First Aid Courses: Find a course near you to learn how to recognize the signs of poor mental health and how to provide assistance.
  • Out of the Darkness Community Walks: Want to get some exercise and help to prevent suicide at the same time? Consider signing up for an Out of the Darkness walk; these events are held annually across the country to raise money for suicide prevention programs.
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health: A person who is admitted to a drug rehab center may also suffer from a mental health disorder. Read more about the relationship between substance abuse and mental health, including the most common mental health issues that occur with substance abuse.

Removing the Stigma: How to Create Productive Dialog About Addiction

by Felicia Lowe

People don’t generally begin taking a drug with the intention of becoming addicted. Rather, a downward spiral occurs in which the initial positive feelings created by the drug wear off, and then more of the drug is taken to attempt to get that feeling back. But once someone is addicted, it can be difficult to acknowledge the problem and get addiction treatment. This problem is only compounded by the significant stigma surrounding drug and alcohol abuse and addiction.

Alcohol and drug addiction have become serious problems in the United States. From 2002 to 2015, the number of overdose deaths from any drug rose by more than 100%. Abuse of all drugs across the board remains an issue, but prescription narcotics have especially escalated the country’s addiction problem. As of 2014, nearly 2 million Americans were dependent on prescription painkillers, and one in four patients who get narcotics via prescription from a healthcare provider become dependent and end up abusing the drug.

With the addiction epidemic reaching such staggering numbers, it is clear that something needs to be done to control it. Many addiction treatment options are available to those who are suffering, but many are ashamed to seek help. Addiction is seen by many as a choice someone makes rather than a disease. Some may see addicts as devoid of morals or as criminals. Our society has created plenty of labels to negatively identify drug addicts, like “junkie,” “stoner,” or “pothead.” Addicts themselves may feel ostracized because of the engrained cultural stigma surrounding drug use, even though they understand that they no longer have control over their problem. Because of their fear of being shamed or labeled if they seek treatment, many addicts will isolate themselves even further as they try to hide their problem. This, in turn, reinforces the appearance that the drug abuse is a choice. Thus, a negative cycle of isolation and further stigmatization is created.

To turn around the addiction epidemic, several steps need to occur. Both addicts and society as a whole need to be better educated about addiction. It is a disease, not a choice. Making this distinction more widely known can reduce the stigma around seeking addiction treatment. Also, communication needs to be more open between addicts, those close to them, and the community as a whole. Assuming that the individual suffering from addiction has admitted their problem, those close to them need to respond with support and willingness to help, rather than shaming or labeling them. Health insurance companies and health-care providers need to make information about addiction treatment more readily accessible. Schools and workplaces can offer resources on how to find help and should not treat addiction differently than other illnesses.

Those suffering from addiction need to feel safe admitting their problem and seeking help. They should not have to suffer in silence for fear of being judged or facing negative consequences. Of the many Americans suffering from drug addiction, only a small fraction seek addiction treatment. All too many end up becoming a statistic in the overdose epidemic. Society must take the necessary actions to reverse the stigma associated with addiction in order to turn this epidemic around and encourage those affected to seek the treatment they need.