Today, thousands of people continue to drink and drive all over North America. Most of them never get caught the first time. Many of these drivers are against drinking and driving themselves. So why do they do it?
Alcohol is a drug that has been used for probably as long as civilization has been around. We know that the fermenting of wine is an ancient practice that predates Biblical times. Alcohol has been used in just about every situation: Religious ceremonies, celebrations, and even our times of mourning. It’s accepted that we can have a few drinks when we’re happy. It’s accepted that we can drink when we’re sad. We pop champagne bottles when our favorite sports team wins the trophy. We drink at our funeral wakes. We drink to take the edge off when we’re stressed.
The problem is that far too often, alcohol impairs not only our judgment about what is going on around us but it also impairs our judgment about how impaired we are! Often when we drink, we “feel fine” and don’t realize just how much we’ve consumed which ends up motivating us to “just have one more.” And that can have horrific consequences when we fail to separate our drinking from our driving.
Perhaps drinking is our own business and nobody else’s some of the time, but it does become other people’s business when we put others at risk and get behind the wheel to take control of a 3,000 lb. object that is capable of moving at high speeds – our vehicles.
Maybe if we were more educated about the long term health effects of alcohol, we’d find that we could reduce the numbers of people who still get behind the wheel after consuming too many. Perhaps with education, we could ensure that more of us would be more cognizant of our alcohol consumption with the result of actually realizing what “drink responsibly” really means.
Alcohol, although widely socially acceptable does have long term health effects which can be ruinous to our lives if we overdo it. These effects can include a higher incidence of cancers in both men and women. A recent Australian study showed that over 2,000 people in Australia die each year from alcohol related cancer.
Overuse of alcohol can cause a weakened heart muscle. Often called “alcoholic cardiomyopathy,” this condition is caused by the over consumption of alcohol and those with diagnosed with it need to stop drinking alcohol immediately and permanently.
For men, perhaps one of the scariest things about the over-consumption of alcohol is the fact that it can cause impotence by lowering testosterone levels. If more men knew this fact, perhaps that would be a huge motivational factor to reduce alcohol use and as a result, reduce the numbers of men who still continue to drive after too many drinks. What man wants to end up having reduced testosterone levels and resorting to oral testosterone pills? Now that’s a scary thought!
For women, perhaps they need to be better educated about the fact of their increased risk of giving birth to deformed and unhealthy babies. Maybe for a lot of us, the idea that we might have a weakened heart muscle down the road, or perhaps end up with a liver that doesn’t work so well (that only happens to old people, right?) are not strong enough motivators to reduce alcohol consumption and drinking and driving. But impotence? Deformed babies? That hits a little closer to home.
The majority of jurisdictions in North America have increased the penalties for drinking and driving related offenses, and yet people still continue to break the law and put others at risk. Yet the majority of offenders are people who would never dream of committing a criminal act. Many jurisdictions require alcohol treatment and/or education after a drunk driving offense – yet that seems counterintuitive to the idea of helping people to prevent making an unwise choice in the first place.