The Tie One on for Safety Campaign sponsored by the Colorado Springs Mothers Against Drunk Driving asks everyone to display a red ribbon on their car this year. Starting just before Thanksgiving and continuing through New Year’s Eve, the goal of the campaign is to spread awareness of the importance of securing a designated driver throughout the holiday season.
Statistics are grim when it comes to the month of December and drunk driving. An estimated 40 percent of fatal car accidents involve drunk drivers during the week between Christmas and New Year’s alone.
And it’s not just the roads themselves that are unsafe. AAA reports that more pedestrians are killed by drunk drivers on New Year’s Day than on any other day of the year.
According to Fox21 News, last year saw the loss of 1,068 lives due to drunk driving fatalities between the night before Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve.
The fact that local MADD chapters are encouraging locals to designate a sober driver is a strong start toward helping Coloradans to stay safe through the holidays, but there’s more that can help you avoid devastating loss this year.
Drugged Driving Is Also a Significant Risk During the Holidays
As the first state to legalize marijuana, Colorado was also one of the first states to recognize the significant risks associated with driving while under the influence of cannabis. Colorado, Washington, and Oregon saw a combined increase of more than 5 percent in the rate of crashes that occurred due to use of legalized recreational marijuana — and those are just the accidents reported to the police department.
As a result, Colorado transportation officials worked hard to communicate with state drivers that it was not safe to drive after using marijuana. Their campaign made it clear that driving after using marijuana would result in a DUI arrest, just like driving after drinking.
To further ensure the safety of state drivers, flyers regarding drugged driving are made available at dispensaries. The entire state patrol of Colorado has been certified in Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement, a training that helps them to identify drugged driving behaviors.
How Can I Protect Myself From Becoming a Colorado Drugged Driving Statistic?
To avoid becoming a drunk driving statistic this year, you can:
- Designate a sober driver, as suggested by Colorado’s MADD, and make it clear that “sober” means no drugs or alcohol of any kind.
- Opt out of using any drugs or alcohol yourself. Rather than saying, “I’ll just smoke a little bit now,” or “I’ll only eat one or two cannabis candies,” and be surprised by the strong and/or long lasting effect, just avoid it entirely if you know you need to drive.
- Moderate use. Even if you have a designated driver, it is a good idea to still moderate substance use of any kind. If you are not aware, then you are unable to recognize if your driver has had a few as well, even if they started out with good intentions to stay sober.
- Avoid mixing substances. When you combine alcohol and marijuana, for example, even though both are legal in Colorado, the effect of them both together is far stronger than each separately. Rather than simply doubling the effect of one alone, the impact can be exponential and overwhelming.It is not uncommon to black out when using marijuana and alcohol. Many people who drink and get high are unable to remember what happened afterward, even though they were awake and making decisions for themselves.
- Know your resources. Many businesses in Colorado and areas with public transportation offer access to free sober rides on New Year’s Eve, if not weekends and Christmas as well. Ask around and find out what’s available to you. Then, program the numbers, apps, or codes into your phone in advance so you have them when you need them.
- Ask for support. If you have a DUI and need help staying away from driving, or if you have previously struggled with drunk or drugged driving in the past, ask a buddy to stick with you and help you stay safe. This can look different depending on the situation, but it could include having a friend with you, having someone check in on you via text or GPS, or having someone call you a cab at a certain time or come pick you up if you need it.
What if I Can’t Avoid Drinking or Drug Use?
If you struggle with being able to moderate your use of alcohol or any substance, you’re not alone. In fact, this inability to stop after just one drink or to only smoke a small amount of marijuana without falling head first into a full-on binge is one of the signs of a substance use disorder.
It’s something that millions of people struggle with in the United States alone. A recent report released earlier this year found that Colorado is one of the top 10 states for drug use. Specifically, Colorado was number 9 in the country for drug use and number 3 for the number of adults who needed drug treatment and aren’t connecting with the help they need to address the problem.
The good news is that you have options — lots of options. There are a number of different types of treatment services that can help you to get the problem under control before it’s too late. These include:
- Intensive outpatient treatment: If your struggle with drugs and alcohol has been an ongoing issue for years, then your best option may be to enroll in an intensive outpatient program (IOP). Here, you can work with a case manager, connect with other people who are also in recovery, and build the strong relationships that will help you to move forward and create a new life for yourself without drugs and alcohol.Every program is different, but most will meet for 9 to 15 hours during the week, require that you attend a certain number of 12-step meetings, and provide you with random drug testing to ensure that you are staying sober.
- Outpatient treatment services: Less time-consuming than IOP programs, outpatient services will vary in terms of the time commitment. They could require that you meet in the mornings before work, over lunch, or in the evening for up to six hours per week. If you work with a case manager or therapist, it may still be recommended or required that you take part in 12-step meetings in the community and take drug tests.
- DUI classes: If you have already gotten a DUI in Colorado, you may be required to take classes to help you avoid the issue in the future. If so, we can help.We offer DUI classes that will support you in managing your legal obligations and connect you with the treatment services that will support you in avoiding getting DUIs in the future if an alcohol use disorder is part of the problem.
- Alumni meetings: When you complete an outpatient treatment program, it can help to maintain contact with the people you met in recovery. The next time there is a holiday event — or any event that you are compelled to attend that may expose you to drugs and alcohol — you will have built-in sober buddies who are ready to accompany you and help you to stay sober.
What Do I Do if My Loved One Has a DUI?
Though you cannot make choices for your loved one, you can support them in doing everything they can to avoid a future DUI. You can:
- Attend 12-step meetings with them. Having a friend or family member with them can make it less awkward the first few times around. It can also help you to see that they (and you) are not alone.
- Offer to be a sober buddy for them. Though you may not want to be their designated driver, you can offer to accompany them to parties and help them to avoid substances by staying sober with them.
- Help them discover what treatment services are available to them. If insurance issues, proximity to home, or work schedules are stopping them from jumping in, help them take a look at their options so they can find the right choice for them.
- Let them know that you support them in getting sober, but you cannot support them in continuing to put themselves and others at risk by getting behind the wheel after drinking or getting high. Stand firm on your resolve and continue to be there for them when they are ready to get help.
Are you ready to connect with DUI classes that can help you to move your life forward and give you the tools to stay sober this holiday season?