December has come to be known as Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month, and for good reason. Alcohol consumption increases during the holiday season, contributing to the over 300,000 individual incidents of drunk driving each day, according to MADD. With over 10,000 deaths due to intoxicated driving in 2015 alone, it really makes you think twice before ordering that martini.
Drinking is not bad in general. It’s great to get together with friends and share a drink or two. It can take the edge off a long day and lighten the overall mood. The trouble comes when you use it to self medicate and overdo it. It can be hard, once you’re in an intoxicated state, to tell if you’re able to drive safely.
Although you may have been able to drink more when you were younger and walk in a straight line just fine, aging changes your body and the way it interacts with alcohol. This makes seniors especially susceptible to intoxication, increasing elderly car accidents. How do you know if you’re drunk, though, and what are some preemptive steps you can take to prevent intoxication?
Signs of Intoxication
Signs of intoxication can be harder to spot when you’re already drunk. By keeping an eye on these symptoms when you begin your night of drinking, you’ll be able to discern when you’ve had too much and need to call it quits. You’ll know you’re getting drunk when:
- You find it hard to keep your balance. Walking will prove hard to do as you sway and stumble into things. Falling down is a possibility and sitting up straight may become quite a feat to accomplish as well.
- Your speech is impaired. Your words will begin to slur, and the volume of your voice will increase. You may start speaking irrationally and find that you lose your train of thought, making questions difficult to answer.
- You become overly emotional. Feelings of depression may envelope you, encouraging bouts of crying. On the other hand, you can become aggressive and argumentative.
- You make impulsive decisions. You can act in ways you know you shouldn’t and spend money irresponsibly. Regrettable phone calls and texts can also happen.
- You become disoriented. You’ll find it hard to remember things and may forget where you are. Mood swings can also be expected when nearing intoxication.
- You pass out or start to vomit.
If you experience one or more of these symptoms, it’s a sure sign you need to stop drinking and find another way to get home.
Have a Plan in Place
No matter how experienced of a drinker you are, it’s best to have a game plan before you go out. When you know beforehand what you should do to prevent intoxication, you will be more likely to have a fun and safe night. Before you drink anything at all, make sure you’re in the right state of mind.
Terminal diagnoses and the deaths of loved ones become more common as you age, resulting in distraught and strained emotions. You may think alcohol will help numb the pain, but alcohol is a depressant, meaning your negative feelings will only be heightened. If you’re drinking for the right reasons, it’s best to fill your stomach.
Eating beforehand can help absorb alcohol and stave off intoxication. This is especially important for seniors since alcohol stays in their bodies longer due to the fact that alcohol breaks down slower in the body as the body ages. Be sure to pace yourself.
Sit down and enjoy your drink instead of standing up. This will result in fewer drinks in your body and on your bill. Alcohol also contributes to dehydration, which can result in intoxicated symptoms even though you’re sober. Combat this by drinking a glass of room temperature–water in between drinks. Warm water will benefit you more than cool by getting rid of toxins from the alcohol by activating your digestive system.
Drinking in a group can sometimes make you feel obligated to drink more as well. To make sure you don’t drink too much, order drinks that are diluted with a non-alcoholic beverage or opt for a virgin version of a favorite drink. No one will know the difference.
Having a night out can either be delightful or disastrous, depending on how much you drink. Alcohol is meant to highlight the evening, not be the main star. However, many people abuse this substance and drive regardless of how sober or not they are.
This has led to the dedication of the entire month of December to bring awareness of this issue in pursuit of preventing future drunk driving accidents. By being observant and having a plan before you drink, you’ll have a night to remember rather than a night you can’t forget.