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Drunk Driving Limits

Editor Dan Schimmel, LCSW, CAP
Created On
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The Issue of Drunk Driving

Countless lives are taken each year in the United States due to drunk driving. In fact, nearly 30 people a day die in crashes involving drunk driving. One bad judgment call when you are drinking can cost you your life or someone else’s. You could also end up in jail or lose your license if you are caught driving while intoxicated. Drunk driving can ruin your life and create many barriers that you will have to overcome to reach normalcy again.

The root of the problem lies with the fact that many people are unable to realize that they have a drinking problem. This can lead to a state of mind that causes them to deny this issue altogether. A drunk driving incident, though, is usually the catalyst that opens someone’s eyes to their alcohol problem.

What’s worse is that a drunk driving incident can even happen to someone who is not an alcoholic. It doesn’t take much for some people to become intoxicated and be unable to drive their vehicles home safely. A blood alcohol level of .08 is enough in most states to get you popped for DUI. Education is one of the most important aspects that can prevent drunk driving incidents from happening in the first place. Constant efforts are being made to bring awareness to this self-destructive habit.

Understand Alcoholic Units

One of the most overlooked aspects of drinking is alcoholic units. These units are set in place to keep us from going overboard when it comes to drinking. Different alcoholic beverages have different amounts of alcohol per unit. For example, liquor typically has a higher alcohol content than beer does. This means that successive shots of liquor will make an individual feel intoxicated more quickly than drinking beers at the same rate. These alcoholic units of measurement are designed to give us an indication of safe amounts of alcohol that we can enjoy when we decide to go out.

A unit of alcohol is defined as 10 milliliters, or 8 grams of pure alcohol, per drink. Different drinks have different amounts of alcohol in them. Knowing how much alcohol is in each drink gives you the information to determine how strong the drink actually is.

As an example, a 284-milliliter half-pint of any kind of beer contains about 3.8 percent alcohol by volume or ABV. A small glass of wine contains about 125 milliliters of alcohol per volume. A shot of spirits may contain about 25 milliliters of alcohol by volume. It is important to note that these are just baseline examples of how your typical beverage may be crafted. There are some beers that contain 12 percent ABV and are not for light drinkers. Knowing what drink you are consuming ahead of time will help you determine how many you should allow yourself to drink in one session.

Normally, it takes an adult about an hour to process one alcoholic unit. This means that quickly drinking alcoholic beverages back to back will get you more intoxicated faster. Many people feel peer pressure whenever they are drinking with friends to keep up with whoever is drinking the most. Unfortunately, our sense of judgment becomes tainted whenever we drink. We may end up drinking well past our body’s limit and become a liability on the road if we choose to drive. Fortunately, there are countermeasures in place that you can take to prevent an accident from happening.

Use a Designated Driver, Ride-Sharing Service, or Taxi

One thing that you can do to prevent a drunk driving incident from happening is to use a designated driver. This will make sure that you have a ride ready for you whenever you leave the bar or the party. The driver will be sober and able to take you home safely. Ideally, this driver will be someone you know and trust. Many ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft provide drivers who are available at almost all hours of the day. You could always call for a taxi or have the bartender do this for you if you think you’re impaired. Using one of the countless options available at your disposal will help prevent you from causing an accident on the road.

Combating the Problem

Drunk driving fatalities on our highways have decreased by 48 percent over the past 30+ years. Though this is a huge improvement, there is still more work to be done to eliminate drunk driving completely. One of the best ways to prevent drunk driving from happening is to raise awareness. It begins in school where students are young and able to implement the information that they are taught. An organization called MADD, or Mothers Against Drunk Driving, has been around for years and has consistently advocated for stricter penalties and policies for drunk drivers. Universities like Dartmouth College have implemented more restrictive policies to try and curb drinking on campus. In 1984, the federal government passed the National Minimum Drinking Age Act, which set the minimum legal drinking age to 21.

In the end, though, it’s all about your life, and you need to take control of your own circumstances. If you feel you have an issue with drinking, realize that help is available.

An Overview of Alcoholism

Alcohol is readily available at almost any retail outlet, and all one person needs to be in the U.S. is 21 years of age in order to purchase. However, using the age limit as a deterrent is not a good enough shield to prevent accidents from occurring. We must look closely at the root of the problem if we wish to solve it entirely.

Almost every alcoholic begins drinking moderately. They may have a few drinks with friends and family who accept alcohol drinking as a social norm. However, a problem starts to develop when someone begins drinking a little more than they should. This can lead to excess drinking, which can then cause a variety of health problems. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 16 million American adults have some form of alcohol use disorder. All of these people will need some sort of help with their problem.

However, many people decide to place their alcohol-addicted loved ones in rehabilitation facilities without finding the source of the problem first. The reason that many people drink excessively often has a lot more to do with the fact that it makes them feel good. Though alcohol is an addictive substance, many people will drink to help them escape their problems. Stress from work, bad relationships, and other issues in their personal lives are all things that could cause an individual to begin drinking heavily.

Recognizing the Signs

Spotting the signs of alcoholism is important to prevent substance use disorder from developing in someone you care about. Alcoholism usually begins in various stages. It’s important to recognize the signs of alcoholism and take preventive action when necessary.

Occasional binge drinking

Most people start out drinking casually. Doing this on a continual basis, though, could cause someone to need more and more of the alcohol to feel good. An increase in heavy drinking could result in someone starting to binge drink. Some people want to test their limits of how much alcohol that they can consume. Many young adults begin experimenting in this phase. However, a weekly or a nightly routine of drinking can lead to the need to start drinking excessively.

You begin drinking more

Excessive binge drinking can lead to the habitual development of alcoholism. You may begin to experience a habitual need to consume alcohol whenever there is a problem. Stress, boredom, loneliness, and other personal issues are just some of the driving factors during this stage. Alcohol becomes the escape that you wish to take whenever you get the chance.

Problematic drinking

Drinking can get out of control whenever you enter this phase. The habit is so strong that you need to drink daily and even several times a day. You will almost certainly begin to experience health problems. You may experience relationship issues, have difficulty with normal social interactions, and exhibit behavioral changes. This stage of drinking is dangerous as it can lead to the next phase relatively easily.

Dependence on alcohol

People who develop an alcohol problem will find themselves depending on the substance to function. They will self-medicate with alcohol and find that they need to continuously keep drinking to avoid the physical withdrawal problems that are beginning to develop in their bodies. Becoming sober may bring an onset of sweating, a racing heart, irritability, nausea, and anxiety.

The final stage: addiction

Finally, the last stage is when you physically and psychologically need alcohol to function. You may crave the substance uncontrollably and find yourself inconsolable if you do not get your daily dose. You might become compulsive and want to drink any time throughout the day. It is frequently in this stage that people end up losing their jobs or relationships.

Seeking Professional Treatment

Sometimes, it takes a serious incident such as a DUI for an individual to realize that they need help. There are various rehabilitation facilities that can help you overcome your addiction to alcohol. It is important to surround yourself with positive people and addiction specialists during this time to ensure that you have a proper recovery. Entering into a proper rehabilitation program can help you avoid various pitfalls that you may face when ridding yourself of an alcohol problem.

Experiencing Relapse

Some people who receive treatment for alcoholism end up relapsing. This can happen if a person turns back to alcohol to solve their problems after attempting to come clean. However, it is important to note that this a natural part of the process that happens when people attempt to kick an addictive substance out of their bodies. It is crucial that you don’t blame yourself if you happen to relapse. Your family and friends must also be patient with you when you’re attempting to rid yourself of alcohol. It will take time to become completely independent of the crippling substance. However, with enough effort and patience, it is possible to achieve sobriety.

Education and Treatment Are Key

People will often let alcohol control their lives until they get a DUI or something more serious happens to them. Unfortunately, serious incidents can be a point of no return because the damage cannot be reversed. This is why it is important to understand alcoholism and be aware of the dangers of drunk driving. It only takes a split second to change someone’s life forever. With proper education and understanding, we can prevent ourselves from making grave mistakes and help others who are suffering from addiction to alcohol. Getting treatment in a rehab facility can lead to lasting, positive change.

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