To the Editor:
Each year, the holiday season offers many opportunities to spend time with friends, family and co-workers. Unfortunately, more people are likely to drink or use other substances beyond their limits during this season than at other times of the year. Some will suffer adverse consequences that range from fights to falls to traffic crashes.
Sadly, we put others and ourselves at risk because we don’t understand impairment from alcohol and substances.
Holiday hosts or guests may not recognize that using alcohol or substances will alter critical decision-making abilities. For some, when alcohol is first consumed, it acts as a stimulant and people may feel upbeat and excited. But after that first glow, alcohol may decrease inhibitions and judgment and can lead to reckless decisions.
Adding marijuana or prescription drug use to holiday cocktails greatly intensifies impairment. Also, during an evening of drinking, it’s easy to misjudge how long alcohol’s effects last. For example, many people believe that they will begin to sober up—and drive safely—once they stop drinking and have a cup of coffee.
The truth is that alcohol continues to affect the brain and body long after the last drink, the contents of the stomach and intestines continue to enter the bloodstream, impairing judgment and coordination for hours.
Another factor to consider is the safe storage of prescription or medical marijuana drugs. Choose a place for storage where children cannot reach, make sure the prescription safety cap is locked, know how much is on hand and keep it locked up and where it is not accessible to children, teens or guests. Ask houseguests and visitors to keep purses, bags or coats that may have medications or marijuana in them up and away and out of sight while in your home.
Consider the risks of using a substance and the potential consequences. Anyone on prescription medications should keep them locked up and out of sight, and should consult with her physician before using alcohol, marijuana or other substances. Certain medications may be intensified or become dangerous when mixed with alcohol or other drugs, even in small amounts. Plan and prepare for safe travel, eating and drinking enough water. Consider leaving credit cards at home and take just enough money to have a good time. Try doing “drink spacers” making every other drink a nonalcoholic one.
If a designated driver is not available, phone or text a friend or family member, call a taxi or spend the night.
Please remember that there are always safe and sober alternatives available for celebrating the holiday season.
Here’s to a safe, joyful and healthy holiday season!
Healthy Acadia, Drug Free Communities Project Coordinator