This message of #WeeklyWisdom is brought to you by Moira McJury of Alcohol & Drug Council, a proud partner of the Community Coalition for Healthy Youth (CCHY).
As the holiday season approaches, we may be unsure what to expect; life is different under the realities and restrictions of COVID-19. One thing we do know is that levels of alcohol consumption have remained consistent and even increased among different demographic groups during the pandemic. This is important to be aware of as we enter the holiday season, a time when alcohol consumption increases for many.
Whether you are celebrating the upcoming holidays at home or in a COVID-safe manner with family and friends, there is no place for drunk driving.
In 2018, there were 10,511 people killed nationwide in drunk driving crashes. 285 of these fatalities occurred during the Christmas and New Year’s periods. This data is consistent with the fact that the number of drunk driving-related deaths during this period has averaged around 300 deaths for the last 5+ years.
The Wednesday night before Thanksgiving, often referred to as “Thanksgiving Eve” or “Blackout Wednesday” is an evening associated with binge drinking and bar hopping. From 2012 to 2016, over 800 people died in alcohol-impaired-driving crashes during the Thanksgiving holiday period (6:00 p.m. Wednesday to 5:59 a.m. Monday), making it the deadliest holiday on our roads. While next Wednesday may look different in the times of COVID-19, it is anticipated that levels of binge drinking will remain high.
Even if you are not driving, binge drinking is still high risk, especially during the pandemic. People who are intoxicated are less likely to physically distance, keep masks on, and follow other COVID-19 guidelines. Further, frequent and excessive drinking takes a toll on the immune system, making people more susceptible to contracting illness that can put you at risk for more severe complications of COVID-19. This holiday season, try limiting the number of alcoholic beverages you consume, alternating with water or other non-alcoholic beverages.
No matter what your plans are for the upcoming holidays, driving while drunk, high, or under the influence of any illicit substance needs to be avoided. If you feel different, you will drive different, putting your life and the lives of others on the road at risk. If you do choose to drink at a location away from where you will be spending the night, plan ahead and ensure you have a safe way home, whether it is a designated driver, a cab, or a ride-share like Uber or Lyft.
The health and safety of yourself and those around you are important. We are all in this together!