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Plan Ahead For New Year's 2015 to Avoid a DUI

Take action this New Year’s Eve and plan ahead! As we all know, New Years celebrations tend to be alcohol fueled as it suddenly becomes socially acceptable to drink way too much. It’s difficult not to get caught up in the festivity, especially if you are trying to quit or are a newly recovering alcoholic. Or, if you choose to stay home to avoid the scene altogether, becoming lonely can also trigger a relapse. So what to do?

First of all, you can arrange your own sober party. It may look very different than in years past, but come up with your own array of delicious non-alcoholic drinks to serve to your own handpicked list of guests. You may not realize that even people who aren’t dealing with alcoholism often appreciate a sober party where they can have intelligent conversations, play games and enjoy an evening they will actually remember. Many find that it can be really boring and frustrating spending the evening with a bunch of inebriated people and some party-goers will be appreciative not to waste New Years Day feeling sick and hung-over.

If you do accept an invitation to a party to avoid loneliness and don’t want to drink, be prepared. This means know ahead of time who will support your sobriety and whom you can hang out with. If you can’t come up with anyone that is already invited, ask if you can bring a friend. Bring a bottle of your favorite non-alcoholic drink to sip on throughout the evening. If things start to get uncomfortable, leave!

If you do plan on drinking, it’s also important to plan ahead by leaving your car keys at home! According to the National Safety Council, there are more fatal alcohol related car crashes over New Years from 6 p.m. – 12:00 a.m. then on Christmas. Being just a little “buzzed” is equivalent to being impaired. Designate a non-drinking driver or take a taxi to get home because you really don’t want to take a chance and end up with a DUI.

You can bet that there will be more DUI checkpoints set up around town than usual to help keep everyone safe, and starting out 2015 with a DUI offense will be a real bummer. The cost of a Driving Under the Influence conviction varies by state, but the average is around a staggering $10,000! For example, in Texas it can range anywhere from $9,000 - $24,000 and in Illinois it’s around $15,000. Aside from the financial pain, you will most likely have to miss work or school for possible jail time, court dates, and any community service work that is mandated. Your license will be suspended so you will have to find alternate ways to get around, your insurance can double or triple and many states now require DUI offenders to install ignition interlock devices once they get their licenses back, so the car won’t start if it detects any amount of alcohol on your breath. You will have to take time out of your busy schedule to either attend in-person alcohol awarenss classes or take them online.  Finally, if your job requires you to drive, you might lose it. It’s less expensive and less stressful to just make sure you don’t get behind the wheel if you’ve been drinking this New Years Eve so take action and plan ahead!

Drug Education Programs Help Individuals Avoid Substance Abuse During The Holidays

The period running up to and culminating at New Years Eve is a time of year that generally sees an increase in alcohol and drug abuse and even relapse. There are many factors that contribute to this including a person’s social group, genetics, job stability and satisfaction, and physical and mental health. We can all agree that during this season everything ramps up as our schedules get busy with parties, travel, over commitment at work to finish up projects, and an increased level of expectation everywhere we turn. For anyone trying to stay clean, the traditional holiday customs and memories of years past might trigger depression or urges to break sobriety just “once”.

The best thing you can do to avoid this during the holidays is to take care of yourself! Consider your own needs first and allow yourself time to rejuvenate each day with some quiet and rest. Although you may not want to miss out on the festivities, don’t try to go to events in which there will be drinking and drugs that you know will leave you feeling vulnerable. Or, if you do choose to plow ahead, bring a sober companion who will support you through a tempting night. Surrounding yourself with good friends who want the best for you is crucial and it’s also a good time to go to more group meetings, try therapy, read inspirational books and take an online alcohol and drug education program to remind yourself why you have made this life change.

Honestly, any type of addiction is hard to overcome, however, some more than others. The top most highly addictive drugs to absolutely stay away from because they make the individual want to continue taking them, create increased tolerance levels, cause serious damage physically and mentally, and have severe withdrawal symptoms that make it painful to quit include:

1. Heroine. This opiate is converted to morphine when it hits the brain, reducing pain and causing pleasure almost instantly. The high generally lasts for 2 – 5 hours and can cause serious physical side effects like nausea, slowed breathing, hypothermia and an irregular pulse rate. Its use actually changes the way the brain functions and easily creates the desire for more.

2. Crack cocaine. Smoking crack causes a fast high that only lasts for about 10 minutes. Its intense euphoric effect is short lived and many users binge on it to sustain the high for longer. It also increases body temperature as well as blood pressure and heart rate.

3. Crystal methamphetamine. It copies the high that you get from the natural chemical dopamine combined with the increased alertness of norepinephrine which causes your neurons to increase the release of both. It ultimately results in the overall decrease of the amount your body produces, which in turn makes you crave more meth. It causes insomnia, psychosis, mood swings, incoherent thinking patterns and even hallucinations. A major problem with this drug is that it is relatively inexpensive and easy to find.

Just a single dose of these drugs can start some people on a slippery path. Stay healthy and safe this holiday season by maintaining your disciplinary schedule, filling any extra time with helping others, and creating new sober traditions to redefine your holiday season.

Reasons To Be Cautious About Your Drinking Habits This Holiday Season

Thanks to low fuel prices, the stock market on a high, and improved employment numbers, the AAA predicts that more Americans will travel over this Thanksgiving holiday then in the last 7 years. In fact, they are estimating that about 46 million people will travel at least 50 miles over the long weekend. With an increased number of drivers on the road, it’s a good time to remind everyone to NOT drink and drive. You can expect to see increased numbers of police patrolling the roads and DUI checkpoints throughout the country. Officers will be on high alert looking for public intoxication offenders, speeding or impaired drivers, as well as individuals not wearing their seatbelts and in some states, those holding cell phone devices.

According to the CDC, about 1/3 of American adults drink excessively which doesn’t necessarily mean the adult is an alcoholic, but that he or she partakes in binge drinking multiple times each month. This time of year, the number of times tends to increase as people attend Thanksgiving, Holiday and New Years celebrations. You generally fall into this category if you are a woman who drinks 4 or more alcoholic drinks during one evening or a man who drinks 5 or more. Not only is this behavior physically unhealthy, but also contributes to an increase in accidents both on and off the roads.

It’s also important to note that medication and alcohol don’t mix! You might be a normally healthy person trying to get over an illness by taking antibiotics or aspirin or maybe you are taking Xanax for a few days to help relieve your fear of travel or the stress of family get togethers. If so, your doctors advice not to drink while taking the medication is fully warranted. Many medications contain ingredients that when combined with alcohol can become seriously hazardous or less effective causing a delay in recovery.

Some helpful facts to know about the interaction of alcohol and common over-the-counter or prescription drugs that many of us take include:

1. Alcohol dissolves the coating on time-released capsules. So, if you are taking things like cold and allergy medication or Tylenol in time released form, the alcohol will make it so you get the full dose all at once instead of being properly delayed.

2. Alcohol increases drowsiness and so do many antidepressants. The combination generally impairs your ability to react quickly and stay alert.

3. Alcohol reduces the effect of antibiotics and can also contribute to nausea.

4. Alcohol mixed with your nightly tranquilizer can cause severe drowsiness, and slow down your pulse, breathing and blood pressure. Too much can lead to fatality.

5. Alcohol mixed with aspirin or Tylenol can contribute to gastro-intestinal issues like stomach bleeding.

If you are hosting parties over the holidays, it’s always nice to be considerate by providing delicious non-alcoholic drinks for anyone who shouldn’t drink. If you are taking any type of medicine as a partygoer, please keep in mind that alcohol consumption will enhance the effects of drowsiness already caused by the medication, can increase or decrease your blood pressure, and in some cases the drugs purpose will be diminished or negated.

Tips To Help You Focus On Sobriety This Holiday Season

The time period we are fast approaching, Thanksgiving through New Year’s, can be one of the most tempting and stressful for recovering alcoholics. According to a 2012 survey by OASAS, about 10% of all American adults are trying to overcome an addiction to drugs or alcohol. Not only is drinking often the central activity during these celebrations but people tend to exasperate things this time of year by deviating from their normal routines with the days off, family get-togethers and parties galore. It can also be a highly charged time when family tensions skyrocket during the planning of events or the actual time spent together. All the temptation and stress can lead to relapse for individuals not prepared to stick with their goal to remain sober.

To remain on course, it’s important to emphasize that now more than ever is the time to focus on recovery. Put yourself first and take the time to re-read inspirational books, surround yourself with supportive loved ones, increase your attendance at AA meetings, and even take an online alcohol awareness class to review why and how to stay sober. Remember that addiction is a lifelong challenge and learning new techniques to help with your sobriety will always be highly beneficial.

For some, avoiding the parties altogether is the best bet, but for others the isolation can cause depression. Individuals who are struggling with alcoholism should have a plan in place to help get through the season. Here are some tips to consider:

1. Make a list of people to call in case the temptation becomes overpowering.

2. If you do go to a party, drive your own car so you don’t have to depend on anyone else. This gives you the freedom to leave if you start feeling stressed or tempted to drink.

3. The holidays can be a difficult for everyone, even those without abuse issues. Family celebrations can often force people to get together even when there is unresolved animosity. Add alcohol to the mix and drama often arises. Don’t allow yourself to get drawn into the antics. Get away by going for a walk, offering to run an errand or by hopping into your own car to make the escape.

4. If you are going “home” for the holidays, you may run into old friends that you used to drink with, or end up at an old favorite bar. It’s a time when recovering addicts might think they’ll have just “one” for old times sake. Don’t fall into this trap. If you truly want to stay sober, don’t spend time with these people or be coaxed to hanging out in that venue. One will lead to another, and another…

5. Be prepared to have a quick reply when the host at a party asks if you want a drink or pesters you to join him with one. The best approach is to keep it short and just say that you don’t drink alcohol.

6. Come prepared with your own favorite non-alcoholic drink just in case there is nothing available at the party.

7. Arrive early and leave early. People tend to get more inebriated as the night wears on. Make your exit before things start to get sloppy.

8. Spend your available time volunteering to help others. This is really what the season is all about, and can help to take your mind off your own worries and build your self-worth.

States Legalizing Marijuana Are Increasingly Utilizing Online Marijuana Education Classes

Based on the most recent election results, looks like marijuana is quickly becoming more mainstream in the U.S. According to research done by SAMHSA in 2013, an estimated 19.8 million Americans reported that they had recently used the drug. Now voters have joined Washington and Colorado and approved its legal recreational use in Alaska, Oregon and the District of Columbia.

In Oregon, voters passed Measure 91, which legalizes possession, use and sale of recreational marijuana for people 21 years of age and over. Adults can possess up to 8 ounces at home and 1 ounce in public. Alaska became the fourth state to legalize it’s recreational use by allowing adults 21 and older to possess up to 1 ounce in public and grow up to 6 plants for personal use at home. In Washington D.C., Initiative 71 legalizes adults to possess up to 2 ounces and have 6 plants for personal use at home. No sales of marijuana are currently allowed in the state. In California, voters approved Proposition 47, which reduces “nonserious and nonviolent property and drug crimes” from felony to misdemeanor status. This will make about 10,000 people eligible for early release from state prisons.

While marijuana use has not been proven to be as harmful as other drugs like cocaine, heroin or crystal meth, it does carry some of the same risks as alcohol use. Young people who smoke marijuana are about twice as likely to drop out of school, have low motivation levels to succeed and increased chances of developing psychoses and cognitive impairment as they get older. Furthermore, there’s definitely an increased risk on the roads as people have difficulty staying within their lane, performing multiple tasks at once and maintaining concentration. Regular marijuana users also have an increased risk of heart irregularities, and experiencing hallucinations and delusions.

The bottom line is that like alcohol, THC in the system can impair an individual’s ability to safely drive a vehicle. The best decision is to stay off the road, as police are looking for marijuana impairment now more than ever. Since there’s no solid breath test yet, police ask for a blood test and/or submit the driver to a field sobriety test. Basically, they are looking to see if you can do two things at once. The blood test looks for a blood level of 5 nanograms of THC or higher.

Most states have instituted punishments for Marijuana DUI that are similar to that of a drunk driving DUI. These penalties include fines, jail time, community service, probation, an ignition interlock device, license suspension and marijuana education classes. And something to consider is that you don’t have to actually be driving the vehicle to get slammed with a DUI. An officer can arrest you if the vehicle is parked but you have the key in the ignition. One of our clients just received a Marijuana DUI for napping in his car with the ignition on to run the heat. Another client explained that she was sitting in the drivers seat with the key in the ignition while she and her friends were parked and listening to music. She was ultimately arrested because there was a baggie with over an ounce of marijuana found in the vehicle, although it wasn’t hers. So, if you are going to partake or be around other’s who are, reduce your risks by taking public transportation or designating a driver just like you would if you were out drinking.