April has been designated Alcoholism Awareness Month by the National Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependence. The event is a 30-day opportunity for people all over America to do their part in raising awareness regarding the disease of alcohol addiction and what can be done to curb it in their communities. Participants can become actively involved in keeping alcohol addiction from destroying their lives and the lives of their loved ones. Whether they actively engage a friend or loved one regarding their excessive drinking or simply spread the word in their school or workplace, there are numerous ways for interested advocates to lend their efforts to this cause.
Excessive drinking is everywhere from isolated rural areas to the most crowded and developed of urban areas, and Long Island is no exception. Suffolk County has more alcohol-related car crashes than any other area of New York; this has been a reality for the region since 2001. Nassau County is right behind them, causing officials and spectators to designate Long Island as the drunk-
driving capital of New York State. The alarmingly high drunk-driving rates have caused local law enforcement to redouble their enforcement efforts, particularly during peak tourist season. Other factors that have contributed to the surge of DUI-related deaths are the dependence of residence on their cars and Long Island’s rural roads.
Over the past five years, over 350 Long Island residents have died of alcohol poisoning. From 2010 to 2012, Nassau and Suffolk Counties had a combined 5,927 alcohol-related car crashes (Suffolk had 3,561 and Nassau had 2,366). In addition to heightened law enforcement, prevention organizations like Mothers against Drunk Driving are pushing for interlock devices on cars that disable the ability to drive if the driver doesn’t pass a breath test. The cost to New York taxpayers in combatting drunk driving is $2.5 billion annually. Despite the human and financial costs and the heightened efforts of law enforcement and prevention advocates, the problem is only getting worse.
Events like Alcoholism Awareness Month remind us that no matter where we live, we can mobilize to curb alcohol abuse in our communities. By simply putting it front and center in people’s consciousness for a few weeks, we’re doing more than we normally we do. If this causes someone to think twice before they drink more than they should or get behind the wheel of a car when they know they’re impaired, then lives will be saved. Take action however you can during Alcoholism Awareness Month.