Preventing a DUI is never your responsibility. You can only make decision for yourself, and your loved ones have the free will to make their own choices. While you can’t control another’s actions, there are some ways you can intervene and prepare so you and your friends are never in a tricky spot.
In this article, we’ll talk about how you can prevent your friends and family from getting behind the wheel after drinking alcohol.
Talk about it
Chatting about drinking and driving is anything but casual. If your friend or family members has struggled to refrain from drunk driving in the past, she may feel judged and shut down. It’s important that you can have an open and honest conversation, so the way you talk about it is important.
The way you approach the topic will depend on your relationship and how you both handle touchy subjects. However, it’s important to preface that you’re not trying to accuse or judge. Rather, you’re bringing up driving under the influence because you care about your loved one’s safety and emotional well-being. Encourage smart decision making and share that you can help provide alternative options to driving drunk.
Even the most well-worded discussion can make your friend turn defensive, though, so don’t take it personally when this important talk goes south. It’s vital that you bring it up, even if it’s guaranteed to yield bad results. Over time, your loved one will see the goodwill behind the discussion.
Driving under the influence may be a sign of a deeper issue, so express that you’re available to listen, too. It may be handy to have some resource materials, such as a phone number for alcohol addiction counseling.
Learn about the consequences
Understanding the consequences of a DUI or DWI can be a huge deterrent to driving drunk. The legal costs, the damage to relationships, the financial and career repercussions are all significant reasons to make the right decision and drive sober or find a different ride. Sharing the potential consequences with your loved one is bound to have an impact.
Make plans for transportation
The best way to prevent an incident where someone is tempted to drive drunk is to prepare long before anyone starts drinking. One of the effects of alcohol is that it lowers inhibition, meaning that you’re prone to excessive confidence when you’re inebriated. Even if you’re normally level-headed, drinking can make you feel like you’re capable of driving when you’re not. It can also make you feel invincible, like you won’t get caught.
Don’t make the mistake of postponing the decision about driving home. Go into the night with a game plan. Schedule for a friend to pick you up who won’t be at the part, decide on a designated driver who won’t drink at all or explore ride-sharing options like Uber or Lyft. If it’s agreed you’ll hitch a ride back, leave the car keys in an inaccessible spot.
Make the smart choice for yourself
If you fail to plan in advance or your friend changes his mind and wants to drive after drinking, don’t get in the car. Your firm decision to make a safe choice could be the final warning sign your friend needs to refrain from driving. Encourage your loved one to find alternative transportation, but at the very least ensure your own safety by taking another way home.
Learn warning signs of alcohol addiction
If your loved one struggles to regulate how much alcohol he or she consumes, or continues to drink regularly despite negative consequences, it might be indicative of a substance use disorder. Look out for these other warning signs.
- Wanting to cut back on drinking and being unable to;
- Feeling an urge to drink or needing to drink to feel normal;
- Continuing to drink even though it impairs functioning at work, school and in social relationships;
- Drinking in unsafe conditions;
- Giving up hobbies and interests to drink;
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms.
If your loved one is struggling to overcome an addiction, recovery is possible. Share the signs you’ve notice and offer encouragement for your friend to start treatment.
One of the best things you can do to prevent your loved one from drinking and driving is to watch your own behavior. It’s easy to feed into trying to solve the harmful behavior of drinking and driving, but occasionally our actions do more harm than good.
This is called enabling, and it happens when we do something that makes our loved one’s behavior more likely to happen again. By taking away negative consequences, we are actually encouraging the unfavorable behavior. Remember that the natural effects of drinking and driving can be beneficial in the long run.
Try family education
Learning about substance use addiction and recovery can help you understand what your friend is experiencing. Family education classes can help with that. In these sessions, you’ll learn about the brain science behind addiction, warning signs of relapse, ways to improve communication, the process of recovery and so much more.
The knowledge that you acquire in these groups or classes can help you to empathize with your loved one. It can also give you useful tips and tools to intervene respectfully and effectively in the recovery journey.
Consult professional help
If you have a loved one who is struggling to avoid drinking and driving, there are concrete ways you can help, both in the moment and in preparation for a night out. While the tips here might help, personalized help from a professional can make the biggest impact.