December is National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month. This campaign raises awareness about the importance of being sober behind the wheel. The National Association of Drug Court Professionals describes December as “one of the deadliest and most dangerous times on America’s roadways, due to an increase in impaired driving.”
Any time you drive your car, you are responsible for your own life and that of others. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, almost 30 people die every day from drunk-driving accidents. Driving under the influence of drugs is equally dangerous. Unfortunately, it’s also common. In 2018, at least 12.6 million people 16 or older drove after using drugs.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), being under the influence of opioids while driving doubles your risk of having a crash. NIDA also notes that using marijuana leads to poor reaction times, increases in lane weaving, and distraction. After alcohol, marijuana is the second most common drug found in people’s blood at the scene of car crashes.
Specific age groups are at heightened risk for drunk or drugged driving crashes—both youth and older adults. For teens, the combination of inexperience driving and experimentation with drugs can be fatal. Among people aged 16-19, car accidents are the leading cause of death.
Young adults tend to drive under the influence at higher rates. 1 in 6 college students with access to a car has driven after using drugs. People aged 21-25 are more likely to drive under the influence than any other age group.
Mental decline in older adults can also lead to accidents. According to a survey by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), 75% of adults over 50 take prescription drugs, and that number increases after age 65. Additionally, as people get older, their bodies break down drugs and alcohol less quickly. Older adults may not realize this before they get behind the wheel of a car.
Impaired driving is a very serious issue—and if you get behind the wheel of a car after drinking or using, you may have a substance use disorder. Using alcohol or drugs in physically dangerous situations is one of the diagnostic criteria for both alcohol and drug use disorder. For many reasons, getting help for your addiction can save your life.
National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month is an important reminder that there is only one way to be when behind the wheel: sober.
If you are struggling with addiction or a mental health disorder, there is help and hope. TruHealing Centers offers high-quality treatment for substance use and mental health disorders in facilities across the country. Our staff—many of whom are in recovery themselves—will help you address the underlying reasons you used substances and build a life in long-term recovery. Call an admissions specialist at 410-593-0005.