More than half of all Americans drink alcohol on at least a monthly basis. While alcohol use is legal and widely accepted in many social circles, it is also highly addictive. Not only can drinking lead to both physical and psychological dependency, but it can also shorten your life. Alcoholism and alcohol abuse disorders can cause serious neurological and liver problems, like dementia and cirrhosis. Alcohol also plays a role in 28% of all traffic fatalities. National Impaired Driving Prevention Month focuses on raising awareness and preventing both alcohol abuse and drunk driving.
When you drink, alcohol impairs your judgment, making you more prone to get into arguments and make risky decisions. Alcohol-related deaths are also the third most common cause of preventable death in the United States, with roughly 88,000 people dying each year from an alcohol-related cause.
Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant that causes your brain to release a pleasurable rush of neurotransmitters. When you drink alcohol, the rush of neurotransmitters like GABA creates the pleasurable effects of intoxication. While intoxication initially creates feelings of happiness and euphoria, when abused, it can create feelings of anger and depression. Drinking alcohol can also destabilize your mental health and worsen your symptoms, even if you are taking medications.
Alcohol intoxication also lowers inhibitions, which can increase your chances of engaging in dangerous or unlawful behavior. Since intoxication can increase aggression, drinking can lead to arguments and physical violence. Consuming large amounts of alcohol quickly can also cause ethanol poisoning, which is fatal without treatment.
Because alcohol abuse causes your brain’s pleasure and reward center to change, it can become difficult to stop drinking if you develop a dependency. Alcohol can lead to physical addiction, which means your body needs alcohol in order to function normally and to avoid withdrawal symptoms. Some of the major risks associated with alcohol abuse include:
- Liver damage
- Damaged personal and familial relationships
- Legal problems, such as DUI charges
- Employment and housing problems
- Marriage problems
National Impaired Driving Prevention Month
During National Impaired Driving Prevention Month, which began in 1981, the dangers associated with drunk and impaired driving are highlighted. National Impaired Driving Month is celebrated every December. Drunk driving is especially common during the winter holidays, as countless travelers hit the road to visit friends and family members. In fact, 781 people died due to drunk driving during National Impaired Driving Prevention Month in 2016.
When you struggle with your drinking, driving home from bars and drinking establishments may become second-nature. Even if you don’t have a drinking problem, the holiday season can make drunk driving more likely, as many holiday celebrations include alcohol.
If you plan to drink, making sure that you have a designated driver or access to ride-sharing is a great way to avoid driving drunk. Because alcohol impairs your coordination, driving drunk can lead to a fatal or serious car accident. The more intoxicated you become, then the more dangerous you are as you drive more recklessly.
Driving drunk is also a major sign of a drinking problem. With alcoholism, it’s common to make alcohol a priority and to do whatever it takes to drink, even if that means driving drunk. National Impaired Driving Prevention Month heavily addresses this. A criminal charge involving a DUI can lead to jail time, which can damage your reputation and career.
Finding Help for Alcoholism Today
National Impaired Driving Prevention Month demonstrates how fatal the consequences of drunk driving and alcohol abuse can be. When you struggle with alcoholism, you can suffer damage to your relationships, physical health, and career. Reaching out for help as soon as you develop symptoms of a drinking problem is the best way to recover fully. If you or a loved one is battling an alcohol abuse disorder, call us today at 855.259.1624 to learn more about your treatment options.