Drunk and Drugged Prevention Month takes place in the month of December because there are higher rates of accidents during the holiday season. During this time, we want to raise awareness about the consequences of driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
Two of the most celebrated holidays, Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, happen in December and are among the most dangerous ones. Most people might be surprised by this statement and are unable to imagine that their favorite holiday could result in a fatality. However the holiday season is the most common time of year for drunk and impaired driving accidents. Drugs and alcohol should not be consumed if a person intends on driving because it can lead to fatal results. Drugs are involved in around 18% of all motor vehicle driver deaths, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, while drunk driving accidents account for 31% of all motor vehicle accidents. Thousands of drivers and passengers are killed each year as a result of drunk or drugged driving. “In 2018, drunk driving crashes claimed 108 lives in those two days alone, accounting for nearly half of total traffic deaths” (Media, 2019).
Since December 1981, high officials all across the country have made it their duty to raise awareness on this issue and the importance of staying sober while driving.
December’s traffic fatalities that involve impaired drivers increase significantly during the Christmas and New Year’s holiday periods:
- On average, 25 people were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes per day during December 2010.
- Young adults are among those at greatest risk for driving impaired. During December 2010, drivers 21 to 34 years old were alcohol impaired and involved in fatal crashes at a higher percentage than any other age group.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services
The Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reminds everyone of the importance to not drink and drive, and to celebrate the holidays safely. The mental health community works together with resources and substance abuse experts to provide individualized care across the country.
Why is there an increase in drinking during the holiday season?
Some studies have found that the increase in drinking for Americans almost doubles during the holiday season, with seasonal drinks being the most popular. There are many reasons for this increase:
- The holidays are a time when families and friends get together to celebrate. Celebrations can include holiday parties, social gatherings, and other social events, which, inevitably, leads to more alcohol consumption.
- The increased alcohol consumption, however, can also be a coping mechanism to some individuals. Conflicts can arise when families get together. If individuals lack good coping skills, alcohol consumption can increase as well as a mechanism of avoiding anger or anxiety.
- Mourning and grieving during this period is common. No matter how long it has been, the holiday season is a reminder of what we have lost. Some people cope with their feelings by using alcohol and/or other drugs.
- For individuals who are in recovery, the holidays can be a relapse trigger for a mix of the reasons mentioned above.
We stand with all those who have known the tragic consequences of drugged or drunk driving.