The roads are a dangerous place. And not just for drivers. Passengers are at equal risk of experiencing tragedy, under even the most normal of circumstances. But what if we add a mind-altering substance such as alcohol into the equation? Naturally, that is a rhetorical question, but alcohol and heavy machinery is a concern that thousands of Americans take for granted every day of the week; placing their lives and the lives of others in serious jeopardy. Which is why it is important that we reiterate the stakes of driving under the influence.
Every adult that leaves a bar, gets behind the wheel having had one too many, knows that there are inherent risks that accompany this decision. Even the most intoxicated will sense that they are doing something wrong, knowing they are still going to drive regardless of their drunkenness, and at times despite hearing ardent pleas to do otherwise from some of their closest peers. Making a judgement error that can have tragic consequences—even if no one is injured.
DUI: The Cost
No matter which state one lives in, being arrested for a DUI carries with it consequences that few Americans can afford. Loss of license can make it extremely difficult or impossible to commute to work—potentially resulting in loss of employment. That may not seem like such a big of deal to some, but when you factor in the heavy fines that are attached to even a first offense, an income deficit can make it difficult to pay the hefty financial penalties. In some states, a first DUI can bring about serving some time in jail, potentially leading to being fired from your job. Simply put and any way you cut it, a DUI is a life-shattering event.
The aforementioned pitfalls of driving under the influence pale in comparison to fatal alcohol-related traffic accidents. Losing one’s own life as a result of driving under the influence is final; however, taking the life of others because of a poor decision has an even greater permanent impact emotionally, spiritually and physically for all concerned. A poor decision that haunts many Americans, unfortunately. While alcohol has long been the biggest concern on the road, today with prescription drug use at epidemic levels and new climate regarding marijuana use—the roads appear to have become even deadlier.
DUI: Drugged Driving
More research is needed before hard conclusions can be drawn, but a new study suggests that drugged driving is on the rise. In 2015, more people who died behind the wheel of a car tested positive for drugs than alcohol, according to the study. With 43% dying with drugs in their blood, compared to the 37% who tested positive for alcohol. While the findings are startling as drugs seem to have become the number one offender, marijuana (35 percent) was the substance most commonly found in people’s system, followed next by amphetamines (9 percent); it is important that researchers attempt to grasp the big picture.
Is drugged driving a major problem on the road? To be sure. But, the authors of the new study point out that only 57% of drivers who lost their life in car wrecks were screened from drugs, CNN reports. Despite the findings, alcohol is still cause for greater concern on the road than drug use, says Russ Rader, spokesman for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
There’s no question that alcohol remains our biggest highway safety problem,” said Rader.
Even if we just look at marijuana, which now can be used for medical purposes in 29 states and the District of Columbia (DC), and recreational use is allowed in eight states and DC, it can be hard to determine if marijuana led to an accident or was just in one’s system. The drug can linger in one’s fat for around a month. What’s more, many people mix alcohol and marijuana; to say that it was the marijuana rather than the alcohol that caused the accident is impossible. Perhaps the best way to move forward regarding prevention is to cover any mind-altering substance under one umbrella of potential danger. Separating one substance as being somehow more dangerous (without proof), could lead to young people thinking that alcohol might be safer.
Fortunately, more people receive DUIs than die from them, and for some individuals DUIs (drugged driving or drunk driving) can be teachable moments. It is worth noting; however, people who get arrested for driving under the influence of any substance are at an exponentially greater risk of another arrest. Making the same potentially harmful decisions regarding alcohol, over and over, is often indicative of an alcohol use disorder (AUD). It is not by coincidence that most court judges will order people convicted of such offenses to attend treatment and/or 12-Step meetings of recovery.
It is not a forgone conclusion that people who drive under the influence are alcoholics or addicts, but there is a much stronger correlation than with people who do not take such risks. If you or a loved one received a DUI(s), it is a strong indicator that there may be a problem. Please reach out to a recovery advisor at Infinity Malibu, today. Or Call (855) 420-7859. We can help you begin the life-saving journey of addiction recovery.