The holiday season that runs from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Eve is certainly a fun one. You’ll likely be going to a lot of parties, catching up with friends, and having a great time in general. However, sometimes that fun is accompanied by alcohol, and since it’s National Impaired Driving Month, we wanted to share some information to help you prevent becoming a statistic.

At Albemarle Square Family Healthcare, we are a Charlottesville health clinic dedicated to serving the entire family. In addition to our wellness services, we offer mental healthcare services for a wide range of conditions. Make an appointment with us today to discuss your concerns.

How Much it Takes to Become Impaired

Many ask how many drinks it takes to be impaired, and the answer is, unfortunately, not cut and dry. There are several factors to take into consideration, including your body’s size, tolerance, how much you’ve eaten, gender, and medications you’re taking. Where one person can have one drink and feel impaired, another person might be able to have two or more. Additionally, your blood alcohol concentration might fall into the impaired category and you feel just fine (or vice versa). Also take into account that if you’re having cocktails, the amount of liquor the bartender uses can vary from drink to drink, further complicating this answer!

If You’re Planning to Drink

Most of us don’t have personal breathalyzers to have an idea of our impairment level (and even then, the blood alcohol is only one part of the impairment equation). Knowing when it’s safe to hit the road can be a bit murky, but it’s best not to leave safety to chance. Having a designated driver is the safest bet, and alleviates any worry. If you don’t have a designated driver, it’s best to call a cab or rideshare.

If You’re In a Tough Spot

Every once in a while, things don’t go as planned. Your designated driver might go home early or end up drinking, for example. Or you might have had a drink more than you’d planned, and you know you shouldn’t drive. Never ever get into a car with a driver who has had a few drinks. Your life and the lives of others are at risk. Take the keys if you have to, and suggest splitting the cost of a cab ride home instead. If your friend does end up leaving while impaired, call the police.

If You See a Driver Who is Impaired

While on your way home, you might notice a car that’s having troubles staying in its lane, fluctuations in speed, or that just doesn’t look right to you, you need to report it right away. Follow the instructions the dispatcher gives you to remain safe.

It’s estimated that every year 30 million drivers hit the road while impaired, and during the month of December, 25 people die every day in drunk driving crashes. This is 2-3 times more than other months out of the year. These deaths and injuries can be prevented if everyone takes action. Driving impaired, even if you’re just feeling a bit tipsy or buzzed, can still result in serious injury or death. It’s never worth it!

Mental healthcare is one of the services we offer at our Charlottesville health clinic. Talk to your primary care physician or nurse practitioner about any concerns you have about substance abuse. We can discuss your concerns and work with you to determine a healthy course of action. For mental healthcare, wellness exams, acute care, and other services, contact us to make an appointment today!