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Alcohol Detox Needed In Conjunction with Alcohol Abuse Education and Legislation
According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), raising the legal drinking age in the United States to 21 years old has saved 23,000 lives since the federal Minimum Legal Drinking Age (MLDA) was enacted 23 years ago in 1984. That’s 1,000 lives saved a year, and that’s really good news. But there are still too many alcohol-related traffic fatalities every year – nearly 17,000 deaths in 2005. There are many ways we can help – support MADD’s educational programs, insist on designated drivers – and for all those chronic drinkers we know, take a stand, be strong, intervene and help them get into and through a successful alcohol detox program.
Some of our young people don’t start abusing alcohol until college. But once they’re there, binge drinking and partying with alcohol is expected and acceptable. Statistics for college-age drinkers aged 18 to 24 are shocking. A 2002 study by the National Advisory Council on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism’s Task Force on College Drinking found that 31 percent of college students meet the medical criteria for a diagnosis of alcohol abuse. College drinking contributes to an estimated 1,400 student deaths, 500,000 injuries, and 70,000 cases of sexual assault or date rape each year. The study also estimates that more than one-fourth of college students have driven in the past year while under the influence of alcohol. College attitudes towards alcohol abuse have to change. Alcohol dependence is so prevalent that alcohol detox and rehab should be a standard college health service.
Once they’re out in the work force, our young people continue to drink. A new study from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) found that more than 8 percent of America’s total full-time workforce – at least 14 million workers – abuse drugs and alcohol. Nearly 11 million of them abuse or are dependant on alcohol and the other three million abuse illegal drugs. The financial loss to business in productivity alone, quite apart from the dangers of drinking and driving, ought to be reason enough for American industry to partner with government agencies and expand the availability of alcohol detox and rehab facilities.
There’s no doubt that raising the legal drinking age helped reduce alcohol-related traffic fatalities. At least 70 studies have examined the effects of increasing and decreasing the legal drinking age, and every study shows that raising the drinking age meant fewer accidents, injuries and deaths. But alcohol is still a major killer – on and off the roads.
The MLDA continues to save lives, as does MADD. But each of us needs to toughen up and reach out to those drinkers we know and get them into alcohol detox.
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