Preventing Drunk & Drugged Driving with your Family and Friends

Even though the holidays are a time of celebration for most, it can also be full of tragedy when people don’t take proper precautions with their merriment. December is Drunk and Drugged Driving month, designated to bring awareness to the rise in accidents and deaths caused by driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Even though governments do their best to limit impaired driving with strict laws and public awareness campaigns, it’s up to each of us to stress the importance of these precautions with our friends and family. Here are a few ways to prevent drunk and drugged driving on your watch. 

Make a Plan

Regardless of the type of event or gathering being hosted, the event hosts and attendees should make a plan about what to do if they notice someone is trying to leave while too intoxicated to drive. Don’t be afraid to stand up to someone who is trying to leave your party and is too inebriated. They could be putting themselves and others in danger! 

With a set plan in place, it’s easier for those in attendance to keep each other accountable. Rather than assuming everyone will do what’s safest and dismissing warning signs, a plan gives everyone clear actions they can take to help prevent people from driving home when they are under the influence. 

Your plan can depend on the circumstances. There may be someone who is the designated driver in each group, or you may set aside a guest room for overnight guests. Be open about what you are asking of your guests or fellow bar-hoppers, such as leaving their car keys at the door or with a responsible party, or that you expect everyone under the influence to call for a taxi home. 

If you are attending an event or location where alcohol could be served, make a plan to safely return home before you’ve even left for the night. Consider: Do you have money for the taxi, or a ride-sharing app downloaded to your phone? Would you feel comfortable staying in that location overnight if you needed to “sleep it off?” Is there a designated driver? Stick to your plan regardless of any peer pressure you may encounter from other attendees. 

Praise for the Designated Driver

The most ideal plan of any situation involving drugs and alcohol would be that there is someone in your group who is the designated driver, who abstains from all substances for the entire night in order to safely drive people home. Each group should pick a designated driver who will fulfill that duty to a “T,” without even sneaking one or two drinks. If you are this person, you are truly a hero! 

Family and friends who go out on a regular basis should alternate the duties of designated driver so everyone takes a turn with this important responsibility. You should still make a backup plan to leave the party or bar safely, just in case anything happens that prevents the designated driver from safely operating a car. And make sure to express your gratitude for their efforts to keep you and others safe! 

Get help for addiction, binge drinking, and drug abuse

If you’ve seen friends or family members think about, or follow through with driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, that is a major red flag for addiction and substance abuse. It may be difficult to confront someone in the moment, but it could save several lives, including that of your loved one. Make sure your concerns are heard while you are both sober, as well. There are resources available for those who are concerned for the safety and wellbeing of their friends and family as they show warning signs of substance abuse, we’ve listed links down below. 

Resources

SAMHSA’s National Helpline (US)

Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction

Drug and alcohol abuse | Child Family Community Australia