Everyone Should Find a Good Network of Friends to Avoid Dangerous Drinking and Driving Behavior
Students are at a stage in life when they're exploring new experiences and new relationships, and developing their adult selves. They're immersed in circumstances where drinking is more commonly accepted and encouraged, including events related to athletics, and fraternities and sororities.According to community surveys, over 13% of adults in the United States will experience alcohol abuse or dependence (also referred to as alcoholism) at some point in their lives.
They may even hold the incorrect belief that they have to drink to get drunk in order to be accepted. And they tend to have more free time and less accountability, and the penalties for missing class or sleeping in because of a hangover aren't high.Almost half of all college students share a tradition that could wreck their futures: heavy alcohol drinking that puts them at risk for everything from bad grades and date rape to fights, serious injuries and even death.At a time when kegs of beer and shots of tequila have become almost as much a part of college life as textbooks and dorms.
Tadeo, a young Costa Rican, went to the beach with three friends for a few laughs and a lot of drinks. After eight beers each, they drove home on the dark highway. A truck sped by, its rear lights obscuring the curve ahead. Their car skidded off the road and into a tree. Pinned in the wreckage, Tadeo broke three ribs, fractured his skull, fell unconscious, and remained in a coma for a week.This is not uncommon incident at all.
Social gatherings more often than not include alcohol. Weddings and funerals, births and baptisms rely at least in part on drinks to ease grieving or encourage celebration. Aside from special occasions, many homes keep well-stocked bars that facilitate impromptu gatherings.The drive home, particularly in the half-year-long rainy season, can entail a mix of alcohol and slick, winding roads, with potentially catastrophic results. But no one abstains for this reason.
Statistics reflect the outcome: 13 percent of emergency room consultations in 1987 and 33 percent of auto fatalities in 2003 were alcohol related. Homicides, traffic accidents, suicides, violent behavior, domestic violence, child abuse or mistreatment, neglect—these are from heavy drinking occasions, but most of these people are not alcohol dependent.
What you're experiencing is commonly known as a hangover. It's a group of unpleasant symptoms that can develop after drinking too much alcohol. And you're not the only person to feel the misery. Hangovers date back to ancient Egypt and Greece — or perhaps even to prehistoric times.The social consequences of problem drinking and alcohol dependence can be as serious as the medical problems. People who abuse or are dependent on alcohol have a higher incidence of unemployment, domestic violence, and problems with the law. About half of all traffic deaths are related to alcohol use.
The more alcohol you drink, the more likely you are to have a hangover the next day. But there's no magic formula. A single alcoholic drink is enough to trigger a hangover for some people, while others may drink heavily and escape a hangover entirely.Conservative estimates show some 76.3 million people experience alcohol-use disorders worldwide. According to the WHO Global Status Report on Alcohol 2004, 5.5% of the entire disease burden in the Western Pacific Region is attributed to the harmful use of alcohol, significantly higher than the global level of 4%.
Traffic accidents across the Region are strongly related to drinking, with 20% to 50% of traffic-accident fatalities related to alcohol use. For example, in the Republic of Korea, traffic accidents and casualties associated with alcohol increased by about half between 1994 and 2004.
Alcohol consumption, especially at harmful and hazardous levels is a major contributor to the occurrence of intimate partner violence and links between the two are manifold. This fact sheet details what is known about the role of alcohol in shaping the extent and impact of intimate partner violence,factors that increase the risk of becoming a victim or perpetrator, and the role of public health in prevention.Because frequent heavy drinking can create an unhappy, stressful partnership that increases the risk of conflict and violence. However, evidence is available to support relationships between alcohol and intimate partner violence.
People whose friends are OK with drinking and driving are much more likely to drink and drive themselves, too, a U.S. study confirms.
The University of Michigan study of almost 3,500 young adults also found that people who believe there are only a few negative consequences of impaired driving -- arrest or license suspension, for example -- are more likely to engage in such dangerous behavior.
"To policy makers, I'd say, it's probably going to be worthwhile to try to change a person's network of friends, help them find friends who don't drink and drive, and avoid those who do. It's probably harder than some interventions but worth it," study author and associate professor Raymond Bingham said in a prepared statement.
He said efforts to modify these two factors -- social support for drinking and the belief that there are few consequences for impaired driving -- could have a significant impact.
"If we reduce both of those risk factors by 50 percent, then we can expect the drinking/driving rate for women to go down by as much as 56 percent," and by as much as 33 percent for men, Bingham said.
Increased law enforcement -- such as sobriety checkpoints -- and aggressive publicity can help change behaviors and beliefs about drinking and driving, transportation safety researcher Kenneth Beck, a professor of public and community health at the University of Maryland, said in a prepared statement. He was not involved in the study.