If your loved one has ever consumed alcohol and then drove while impaired, you know how stressful and dangerous this can be. You want to prevent them from hurting themselves or another person, but it can be difficult to know what to do in this situation. Here some ways to stop your loved one from driving drunk.
Find an Alternative Transportation Method
If the drinking is limited to social outings, talk to your loved one’s friends about your concerns. Ask them to set up a designated driver schedule so that there will always be someone sober to drive home at the end of the night. If you don’t trust them to be responsible, you have many other options.
Encourage your loved one to call a taxi or rideshare service, or use public transportation. You may even want to be proactive and call a ride yourself. That way, you can know for sure how they are getting home.
Have an Honest Discussion
It’s important to communicate honestly with your loved one about the situation. Voice your concerns and be sure to tell them how much you care. If you become angry or accusatory, they will probably shut you out. Even a calm discussion may cause your loved one to become defensive. Understand that this is a challenging topic for them, and that it will take some time for them to reflect on your words and realize the truth about their behavior. Give them space and time. However, it’s important not to stray into enabling dangerous behavior.
When you’re talking, be sure to keep your tone calm yet firm. Remind your loved one of the dangers of drinking and driving and the potential legal and financial consequences.
Watch Out for Signs of Alcoholism
If your loved one frequently drinks and drives, this could be a sign of alcoholism, known clinically as a alcohol use disorder. Be sure to monitor your loved one for other common signs of alcoholism such as:
- Drinking more than intended, or needing more alcohol to get the same effect.
- Inability to cut back on drinking, even if they have tried or desire to do so.
- Failing to meet responsibilities in their job and/or personal life due to drinking.
- Going to work intoxicated.
- Experiencing blackouts while drinking.
Talk to Your Family Doctor
Talk to your family doctor about the troubling behavior and ask if alcohol use disorder or another substance use disorder may be present. Your doctor may provide referrals to mental health professionals that can formally evaluate your loved one.
Keep in mind that you will not be able to force someone to be evaluated if they are over 18, and you will also not be informed of any discussions between your loved one and medical professionals. Your loved one’s medical information is protected by HIPPA, so you won’t know whether your loved one has received treatment. The best you can do is to encourage him or her to seek professional help.
What to Do if Your Loved One Gets a DUI
If your loved one is convicted of driving under the influence, this may be an opportunity for them to realize that there are serious consequences for their behavior. The penalties from this conviction may be enough to motivate your loved one to seek help for their substance use. Some courts even mandate treatment, or give the option to seek treatment to reduce the charges. Encourage your loved one to voluntarily seek treatment if it is offered.
Consider Alcohol Education Classes
Even if your loved one does not receive a diagnosis of a substance use or alcohol use disorder, he or she may benefit from alcohol education classes. These programs are often required for people convicted of a DUI, but that doesn’t mean you have to wait until a DUI conviction to enroll. The programs are designed to catch a potential substance use disorder before it develops any further.
Talk to your loved one about the program. Offer information and encourage them to enroll. However, keep in mind that they may be more open to enrolling if you refrain from pressuring them.
Rehab After Work is a state licensed drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility. In addition to our treatment programs for individuals with substance use disorders, we also offer Addictions Awareness and DUI programming for individuals who are struggling with their substance use. If you think your loved one might benefit from our program, contact us on our website or call us at (800) 238-4357 for more information.