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Preventive Care

Drinking? Here’s How to Get Home Safely

The holidays are upon us. It’s a time of year when we tend to overindulge. We eat too much, and similarly, we are prone to drink too much.

New Year’s Day is the most dangerous holiday for drunk driving per data from the U.S. Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Drunk driving-related deaths spike 116% above the average.

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Incorrect Assumptions

Too many people believe — incorrectly — that it takes longer for alcohol to impair them than it does. During the holidays, those beliefs can prove fatal. Critical decision-making abilities and motor skills begin diminishing with the first drink, before outward signs of intoxication appear, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

The initial effects of drinking can lead to more drinking. As more alcohol is consumed, reaction times get longer, and behavior becomes poorly controlled.

Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC)

BAC tracks your level of intoxication and is measured against both medical and legal baselines. For a man weighing 150 pounds, mild impairment occurs after just two drinks over the course of one hour. For a 100-pound man, two drinks would mean a BAC of 0.08% and increased impairment. By three drinks, significant impairment is present.

According to the National Institutes of Health, here’s how BAC correlates to levels of intoxication:

  • Mild impairment — up to 0.05%
  • Increased impairment — 0.06 to 0.08%
  • Significant impairment — 0.09% to 0.15%
  • Severe impairment — 0.16% to 0.3%
  • Life threatening — 0.31% to 0.45%

People think that all they have to do is stop drinking, eat some food, have some coffee, and they will sober up. That’s not the case. The alcohol remains in the stomach and intestines where it will continue to be absorbed into the bloodstream and affect a person’s sobriety. It takes about two hours for a man’s BAC to return to zero after one drink. After two drinks, it will take between four and six hours.

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Plan Ahead

  • Hosts
    • Provide a variety of non-alcoholic drinks — sodas, juices, or other liquids. Help your guests balance alcohol consumption with water to stay hydrated.
    • Have healthy snacks — These can help slow the absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream.
    • Get them home — Be prepared to provide a ride or call a ride service to get guests home safely. You could also let them stay at your place.
    • No underage drinking — That only leads to trouble.
  • Guests
    • Make sure you have a ride home — Either through public transportation, a ride service like Lyft or Uber, or by a designated driver. You can also check if AAA is offering its free Tipsy Tow service for impaired motorists – though keep in mind that there are passenger and range restrictions.

Struggling with Alcoholism?

If you’re struggling with addiction, help is available. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services hotline (1-800-662-4357) is a free, confidential referral and information resource. Trained professionals are available 24 hours a day, every day of the year. AltaMed can also provide patient referrals to substance abuse treatment agencies. To learn more, call 855-425-1777

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Drinking? Here’s How to Get Home Safely