Archive for Wednesday, December 5, 2001

Don’t let uncorked spirits ruin holiday

December 5, 2001

While the holiday season is filled with joyous celebrations, it too often is marred by sobering accidents involving alcohol.

People attending holiday parties often over-indulge both in food and in alcoholic drinks.

According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, at least 50 percent of all holiday traffic fatalities involve alcohol. That is a staggering statistic.

To help ensure a safe and healthy holiday, people should not let others who have been drinking or using drugs drive. If the person insists, take their keys and find them another, safe ride home. Or offer for them to spend the night.

If necessary, say you will call the police and do it.

It is far better to have a friend be angry because you helped them than to lose a friend forever because you didn't.

While the number of alcohol-related fatalities during holiday periods is at an all-time low (down 34 percent since 1995), impaired driving is still a leading cause of death for people under the age of 30, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

That group also reports that about three in 10 Americans will be involved in an alcohol-related crash at some time in their lives.

According to surveys by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:

A total of 28 percent, representing 46.5 million people, reported driving within two hours after alcohol or drug use.

An estimated 7 million people drove under the influence of an illicit drug at some time in the past year. Of these, most (77 percent) had also driven under the influence of alcohol.

So if you're hosting a holiday party, avoid making alcohol the main focus. Entertain your guests with music, dancing, games, food and conversation.

And respect people who do not want to drink alcoholic beverages. Provide alternatives, such as sparkling water, fancy juice drinks, and soft drinks. And provide plenty of food to slow the effects of alcohol.

And remember that coffee cannot sober up someone who has had too much to drink. Only time can do that. It takes about an hour to metabolize one drink. So party hosts should stop serving alcoholic drinks at least one hour before the end of an event.

Don't let this time of joy and renewal turn into a time of disaster because of drugs or alcohol. Let's make the holiday season one to remember because we gathered with friends and family, not because we lost a friend or a family member.

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