Ignition Interlocks Stop Over A Million Drunk Drivers


The major substance use news these days deals primarily with the opioid epidemic in America; we need to remember that there are plenty of other addictive mind altering substances that can wreak havoc on one’s life. Alcohol remains to be the most commonly used drug in America, alcohol is pervasive and deeply rooted in our society. It’s a substance that takes an enormous toll on both the public health and the economy; it’s responsible for thousands of deaths every year from alcohol related illness and driving under the influence (DUI).

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 44 people die of an overdose every day, a staggering figure to be sure, the agency also reports that in the United States almost 30 people die in motor vehicle crashes that involve alcohol-impaired drivers. Despite the fact that even teenagers are aware that driving under the influence is unsafe, people continue to put their lives and the lives of others in their hands in danger, which often times ends in tragedy.

Over the last decade there have been a number of efforts made to mitigate both the effects and the likelihood of drunk driving. Those who are caught drunk driving face heavy financial penalties, possible jail time, and loss of license for varying lengths of time. What’s more, in many states those convicted of DUIs are required to have ignition interlock devices installed in their vehicle. The instruments keep the car from starting unless the driver blows into a breathalyzer; if alcohol is detected the device will prevent the car from starting and the driver will have to go back to court and may be sent to jail.

A new report highlights the success of requiring interlocks, showing that the devices have stopped more than 1.77 million people from attempting to drive drunk since 1999, the Associated Press reports. The findings come from data released by 11 major ignition interlock manufacturers.

“MADD knows ignition interlocks save lives, and they could save even more lives if every offender is required to use the device after the first arrest,” said Colleen Sheehey-Church, the president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving. 

Currently, twenty-five states require ignition interlocks for any drunk driving offense, even for a first-time DUI, according to the article. All 50 states have passed some kind of ignition interlock law, but some are much stricter than others and MADD would like to see the states with softer laws, toughen up.

It is often the case that people convicted of DUIs are required to attend 12-step recovery meetings. That is not to say that everyone who gets a DUI has an alcohol use disorder, and most of those who are required to go to meetings do so begrudgingly; however, there are some who are required to attend meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous that realize that they do have a problem with alcohol and are willing to give recovery a chance. While getting a DUI is never fun, it can be the catalyst that leads to recovery.

Families Want Young People to Learn from Their Sons’ Mistakes


Driving under the influence of any mind altering substance is extremely dangerous and can result in loss of life. Most teenagers and young adults have been warned about the dangers of driving drunk or high, yet, every year, young adults lose their life because they thought they could drive on drugs or alcohol.

The general public hears about such tragedies in their communities, everyone empathizes for the family’s loss, but sadly – everyone knows it will happen again. One family has decided to use the tragedy that befell their children for good. This year, two young British men, Kyle Careford (20) and Michael Owen (21), lost their lives while driving high at speeds in excess of 90 mph and crashed into a stone church wall, according to Mirror Online. What’s more, the victims were filming the incident.

What makes this accident unique is what the victim’s family decided to do with the film. The Carefords and Owens chose to release the footage of the last moments of the children’s lives, the article reports. The families publicly justified their choice, Michael’s mother Kat said:

“If all this stops one person from making the same mistake, then some good has come from showing this video. I’m hoping it will have an impact on young people and make them see that a bit of fun can have such devastating consequences.”

“I would like all the young people out there to take notice and realize that you are not invincible and take seriously how precious your lives are to yourselves and others. I want young drivers to consider how much devastation it causes to the families and loved ones that are left behind.”

“Watching the video was very upsetting, but I’m hoping it can be used in a positive way, by showing young people what could happen to them.”

If you are or a loved one is abusing drugs or alcohol, please contact Harmony Foundation to begin the journey of recovery. Harmony is a state-of-the-art, affordable, residential addiction treatment program located in the Rocky Mountains.

Addiction and recovery news provided by Harmony Foundation.

Effective Policies to Combat Drunk Driving

Drunk driving is a serious problem in the United States, especially among young adults who are unaware of their limits. All 50 states have policies in place to deter drunk driving, such as DUI checkpoints on major holidays and stiff penalties – including jail time and harsh fines. While those measures are effective, new research suggests that policies designed to deter binge-drinking are equally effective, ScienceDaily reports. States that have implemented stricter alcohol policies have lower rates of self-reported drunk driving.

Researchers at the Boston University schools of public health and medicine and the University of Minnesota School of Public Health assigned each state an “alcohol policy score.” States that were found to have higher scores had a decreased likelihood of impaired driving. The states were scored using 29 different alcohol policies, such as alcohol taxation.

“Basically, our study supports two parallel mechanisms involved in addressing drunk driving: Drinking policies reduce the likelihood of getting drunk, and driving policies prevent drunk folks from getting behind the wheel,” said study lead author Ziming Xuan, ScD, an assistant professor of community health sciences at the Boston University School of Public Health.

The research showed that high alcohol taxes, safe serving laws, and retail sales restrictions were effective measures to combat drunk driving, according to the article. Despite stricter penalties and excessive drinking deterrents, for the last two decades the rate of drunk driving related accidents has stayed about the same – around 33 percent.

“It is clear that in order for states to comprehensively address drunk driving as a public health issue, more effective policies need to be put into place to address excessive alcohol consumption,” Xuan said.

The findings were published in the International Journal of Alcohol and Drug Research. __________________________________________________

If you are currently struggling with an alcohol use disorder and are in need of help, please do not hesitate to contact Harmony Foundation to begin the journey of recovery. Harmony is a state-of-the-art, affordable, residential addiction treatment program located in the Rocky Mountains.

Addiction and recovery news provided by Harmony Foundation.

Incomprehensible Demoralization from Alcohol Abuse

There is a common phrase thrown around by those in recovery from drug and alcohol abuse that describes a sentiment while they were using: incomprehensible demoralization. While this phrase is applied to thousands of diverse stories and situations, the feeling is the same. Most in recovery can attest to their moments of incomprehensible demoralization.

Recently this sentiment was in the public eye with news stories about people getting drunk, doing very regretful things and woefully apologizing afterwards. Some of the things they did while intoxicated disrupted their careers and reputations with a swift and lasting effect that only serves to reinforce the sentiment of incomprehensible demoralization.

The first popular story occurred about a month ago when Reese Witherspoon’s husband got pulled over for drunk driving in Atlanta. Reese was caught on camera on the side of the road talking back to the police. In an aggressive and boastful tone she asked and asserted, “you don’t need to know my name?!….Well, you are about to find out who I am!” She acted as if being famous exempted her from being treated normally – or in her case – handcuffed and arrested.

Overnight her reputation went from being the sweet girl next door to being egotistically irresponsible and rude. Days later she publically apologized and soberly knew that the police were “just doing their job.” The harsh reality is that what she did while drunk had no bearing on who she really is as a person. It is because of regretful drunk actions like this that people experience demoralization. Often what people do while drunk is far different what their normal selves would dictate – which consequently is also a telltale sign of a problem with alcohol.

In another incident last week, an Eco-Tourism Field Guide named Brian Masters, who had dedicated his education and life to garner that line of work, lost his job. This happened after a video went viral of him charging at an elephant while drunk as his friends recorded him. Now “the guide involved in the confrontation is no longer employed by Singita and further disciplinary procedures are in progress with regard to others involved,” according to a post on the group’s Facebook page. Singita describes the video as “disturbing,” and say the elephant was “extremely agitated by the confrontation and retreated into the bush.”

In response to the event, Masters said “I admit full responsibility for the actions and am deeply, deeply remorseful…There has been a lot of baying for blood and a campaign to name and shame so here I am. I am so sorry this happened and I wish I could undo the stupidity of the act but I can’t; all I can do is apologize and hope people can see the sincerity I am trying to convey.” As aforementioned, although others may not relate to the story specifically, the sentiment is exactly the same. In short, Witherspoon and Masters likely feel the same exact way about themselves although their stories bear no resemblance.

These incidents depicted in the videos below show the destruction that even one night of alcohol abuse can cause. They show how character-changing alcohol can be and how it can cause deep regret. Luckily the demoralization eventually fades, especially after a sound apology as they have made and self forgiveness kicks in.

Swedes Created Breathalyzer that Detects Drugs

A recent advancement in the technology used for Breathalyzers may benefit the state of Colorado in preventing substance abuse related accidents. Colorado has seen its fair share of drunk driving and the recent passing of Amendment 64 has made people question the safety and legality of drivers under the influence of marijuana.

Apparently Switzerland has a high rate of substance related accidents as well, which promoted them to create a new device that can detect 12 different substances including the most commonly abused drugs such as marijuana, morphine, crystal meth, cocaine and heroin. Currently the process and enforcement mechanisms behind testing drivers for drugs other than alcohol have been limited at best. Testing for substances require blood and urine samples – which police can’t conduct roadside.

The Swedish designed Breathalyzer was tested on 47 patients in an addiction clinic and was able to detect drugs with an accuracy rate of 87% – which is in line with the accuracy rate of most urine and blood tests. One drawback of the device is that it was able to pick up on the use of substances 24 hours after they were reportedly used. Therefore the level of substances and determination if one is “under the influence” at the time they are suspected cannot be accurately detected. According to the lead of the study published in the Journal of Breath Research, Professor Olof Beck, future studies can be refined to correlate the breath with actual concentrations of the drugs.

In this way, law enforcement could use the Breathalyzer preliminarily at the scene and then later confirm it by urine and blood tests. While this seems viable, a lot of regulations would be required – such as determining the levels of drugs that would be deemed “over the limit” according to the height, weight, history of use, developed tolerance and gender of the suspect. Prosecution and enforcement would be difficult as DWI and DUI defense attorneys would have a field day with the amount of indeterminate factors of what is “over the limit” for each substance. But considering and fine tuning this option in the future seems increasingly important as the Center for Disease Control reports that the aforementioned drugs are involved in roughly 18% of fatal car crashes.