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    Alcohol & Drugs Awareness

    You might think you know a lot about drugs and alcohol.

    But, just because you're familiar with these matters doesn't mean you know what you truly need to understand about them.

    Some drink excessively or use drugs in the privacy of their own home, and no one is the wiser. Some, however, take it to the street by getting behind the wheel of a car. When you do this, suddenly your private alcohol or drug use becomes everyone's business because you are now a danger to others and have become a potential threat to driving and public safety.

    Most people who drink or do drugs and then drive probably don't think what they are doing is so awful or dangerous. But, that demonstrates a lack of awareness of the effect of alcohol and drugs on the body. So, let's take a look at this matter.

    Physical Effects of Alcohol

    Absorption, transporting, and changing. If you understand these three basic steps of alcohol processing, you'll appreciate the total influence it can have on your body.

    During the absorption stage, your body absorbs the alcohol into your bloodstream. The transporting step is intuitively labeled because this is where the bloodstream transports the alcohol to your body organs. The last step, changing, is what your body tries to do to the alcohol to transform it into a non-harmful substance. Your body works hard, especially your liver, to break down the alcohol so it can be eliminated.

    If your system gets overwhelmed and the changing step backs up, your body can become toxic, and alcohol poisoning or even death can result.

    Driving and Drug or Alcohol Use

    Your personality type and your genetics may put you at high risk for driving under the influence(DUI) violations and their serious ramifications. But, just because you might be predisposed to having problems with alcohol doesn't mean your destiny is certain.

    Being aware of how alcohol affects you personally can help you make good choices; you will learn about this in your driver's education courses. Using common sense can keep you out of trouble, too.

    And, always be mindful of the following:

    • Drinking and driving is the leading cause of death for Americans 17-24 years old.
    • The cost of an average DUI is $3,000.
    • 70 people die each day in America in drunk driving accidents.

    Blood Alcohol Concentration

    Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) is a measurement of the alcohol in your blood. As your body absorbs the alcohol you drink, it moves it through your stomach and into your blood just 30 minutes after you started to imbibe.

    Sometimes this happens at a slower rate because of what you recently ate, how many drinks you had, and how quickly you drank. Gender makes a difference, too. Women keep alcohol in their blood longer because they naturally have more fat; alcohol doesn't absorb into fat, so it lingers in the bloodstream.

    There is some disagreement about BAC measurement and legal limits. Some feel the maximum legal BAC limits for driving (usually up to 0.08%) are arbitrary and not meaningful for many drivers. Others, however, believe levels of 0.08% are extremely dangerous and result in reduced reaction time, impaired motor skills, and foggy thinking.

    Be sure to know the laws in your state regarding drugs, alcohol, and driving, to avoid unpleasant surprises. Depending on your body, choosing to have a single, small drink could put you over the legal limit. In fact, some states don't permit you to drive with any amount of alcohol in your system.

    Additional Reading and Resources

    Any educational system is a good resource for drug and alcohol awareness, particularly universities and colleges. If you are a student, check out your school's website for information on alcohol and drugs. The Harvard School of Public Health offers some information about alcohol.

    The government spends a lot of money researching alcohol and drug abuse. You might want to read about Drug Enforcement Administration educational programs on drug and alcohol use. There is always the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which has information about driving and alcohol.

    Just for fun or personal enlightenment, you might want to read more about personality types after taking a brief online personality test.