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Don’t wreck the holidays

Posted 12/12/2012   Updated 12/12/2012 Email story   Print story


by Sarah Olaciregui
66th Air Base Group Public Affairs

12/12/2012 - HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. -- December marks a time of celebrating with family, friends and co-workers for the holidays, but it's also a time to make sure a plan in is in place if parties and get-togethers involve alcohol.

The last month of each year is recognized as National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month and the 2012 theme is "Don't wreck the holidays." Hanscom's Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment Program, or ADAPT, offers some helpful tips to make sure base personnel don't hurt themselves or others as a result of drunk or drugged driving.

"One bit of advice is don't take any more money than you want to spend on drinks," said Beverly D'Angelo, ADAPT manager. "And don't start drinking before you go out."

D'Angelo also emphasized that while there is zero tolerance for illegal drugs in the Air Force, she reminds everyone that even taking prescription drugs and drinking alcohol can make one feel the effects more intensely.

"Just don't do it," she said. "You could be jeopardizing your career or hurting family relationships."

For those that think being injured or injuring someone else in a drunk driving incident could never happen to them, it is important to look at the latest statistics from 2010.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, almost every 90 seconds a person is injured in a drunk driving crash. In 2010, 10,228 people died in drunk driving crashes--one every 52 minutes--and 345,000 were injured in drunk driving crashes.

For teens and young adults ages 21 to 24, the numbers increase. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, an estimated 5.8 percent of 16 and 17 year olds and 15.1 percent of 18 to 20 year olds reported driving under the influence of alcohol in the past year. Beyond age 25, these rates showed a general decline with increasing age.

In fatal crashes in 2010, the highest percentage of drunk drivers was for ages 21 to 24 at 34 percent, followed by ages 25 to 34 at 30 percent, and 35 to 44 at 25 percent, according to the NHTSA. Car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens, and about one-third of those are alcohol related.

The good news is the NHTSA reports in the United States the number of drunk driving deaths has been cut in half since 1980.

There are many resources to find out more information about drunk or drugged driving. One example is the "That Guy" campaign. An interactive website at www.thatguy.com allows visitors to find out information about dangerous drinking habits or determine if you or someone you know has a drinking problem. The site also contains facts, allows users to find treatment resources or send e-cards to anyone who many have a drinking problem.

"The bottom line is to make sure you have a plan when you go somewhere to drink," D'Angelo said. "In fact, if you don't have to take your car keys with you, don't do it so you won't be tempted."

Anyone with further questions may contact not only ADAPT, but the Drug Demand Reduction Program, the Sexual Assault Response Coordinator or the Family Advocacy Program.

"You can come to us to ask questions," D'Angelo said. "That doesn't mean you have to get involved in the program."

To reach ADAPT, call 781-225-6392. For DDRP, call 781-225-6368. The SARC can be reached at 781-225-6368. Finally, FAP can be reached at 781-225-6385.

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