Although you often hear alarming statistics about how much alcohol is consumed and the consequences of over-consumption, the issue really becomes much more direct and personal when it affects you, your family, friends or close associates. The societal implications and public health issues raised by alcohol excess was the topic of a few recent research reports, conducted by the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The broad implications also apply on a personal level.

It is fairly well known that drinking and driving is a significant factor in automobile injuries and deaths in the U.S. In fact, alcohol was involved in forty percent of traffic crash fatalities and seven percent of all crashes in 2003, which tallied more than 17,000 fatalities and over 275,000 car accidental injuries, according to the NHTSA study of 2004.

In 2008, the NHTSA study found that car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens, and that one out of three of those deaths are alcohol-related. Moreover, teen alcohol use kills about 6,000 people each year, more than all illegal drugs combined.

If you or your family members have been involved in one of these accidents, you understand quite well the desire to get drunken drivers off the road, and more to the point, prevent them from drinking and driving in the first place. Many organizations such as MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) and others have sprung up and are working very diligently to lobby against drinking and driving.

It is evident that alcohol and its repercussions have potentially devastating consequences for both the individual and society.

But, how does this situation change? Is it just by better laws or enforcement of the existing laws? The NHTSA study states that while laws exist that restrict sales to intoxicated patrons and at events like “happy hour”, they can reduce alcohol-related harm only if they are adequately enforced. Enforcement or rather, lack of enforcement of these laws becomes one key to handling the issue.

Many states have program that try to increase compliance and enforcement, and some of these could be used as models for other states to adopt.

Prevention of drinking to excess by adequate educational programs early in school is another key to reducing alcohol-related destruction. Effective education which gets at the youngest children, as early as elementary school, is needed to change this behavior pattern.

By junior high school it is already too late. Although recent trends show that younger teens are binge drinking less (reduced from 9% to 6.4% among 8th graders in a recent study), there are still 15% of 10th graders reportedly binge drinking, and 22% of high school seniors who report that they have drunk 5 or more drinks in a row in the last two weeks, according to the 2011 study.

When one has an alcoholic in their midst, or when one’s family has been involved in these tragic accidents, the issue becomes very personal. If you are faced with the personal wreckage that living with an alcoholic brings, or if you want to help someone to successfully stop abusing alcohol or other drugs, there are several effective programs you could choose.

Narconon is one program which has been helping to broadly educate young people and getting people off drugs and alcohol effectively and with great success for over forty-five years. In over 50 countries around the world, Narconon has safely and successfully used its drug-free methods to help tens of thousands of addicts and alcoholics to live sober and drug-free lives.

We do not have Narconon meetings, but for more information and to learn how the Narconon drug and alcohol rehab program works, please read this article: http://www.narconon-news.org/program/narconon-alcohol-rehab-program.html.


Resources:

DOT HS 809 878 Revised February 2005, Preventing Over-consumption of Alcohol Ð Sales to the Intoxicated and “Happy Hour” (Drink Special) Laws, National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration.

http://www.nhtsa.gov/people/injury/alcohol/pireweb/images/2240pierfinal.pdf

(NHTSA, 2009) Full cite: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. “Traffic Safety Facts 2008: Young Drivers”. DOT 811 169. Washington DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2009. http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/811169.PDF

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. (2004). Traffic Safety Facts 2003: Alcohol. DOT HS 809 761.

http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/809897.PDF

Hingson, Ralph and D. Kenkel. “Social and Health Consequences of Underage Drinking.” In press. As quoted in Institute of Medicine National Research Council of the National Academies. Bonnie, Richard J. and Mary Ellen O’Connell, eds. Reducing Underage Drinking: A Collective Responsibility. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2003.

http://drugabuse.gov/infofacts/HSYouthtrends.html

http://drugabuse.gov/newsroom/11/mtf11overview.html

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