How Exactly Does Alcohol Impair You?

25 Mar

I saw a really cool animation of somebody’s writing after consuming one drink, three drinks, five drinks, and seven drinks.  Let’s just say it got sloppy.  The tagline was quite  fitting.  It read “how can you handle a car after drinking if you can’t even handle a pen?”  Well, I can’t figure out how to transfer that animated box to this blog, so I am going to conduct my own experiment.  I’m going out with some friends tonight (Scott’s Thursdays in Costa Mesa: awesome resident house DJ and fun crowd though it can get uncomfortably packed & major cougar alert: hold on tightly to your boyfriend or they’ll tear him to shreds!) and I’m going to rewrite my original sentence of choice after each drink I have.  Like I said in my last post, I am totally comfortable sharing the fact that I happen to like consuming alcoholic beverages (I blame my European heritage).  With that said, I am truly hoping you don’t hold an intervention for me at the end of this semester. :-/

 

I think it will be really interesting to see just how much alcohol consumption affects my hand and eye coordination, as it is not something I have ever really put to the test.  I don’t think a lot of people understand the extent to which intoxication plays with the body and its systems:

“Alcohol affects the nervous system by stamping down the signals between the spinal chord, nerve system and the brain. The alcohol is absorbed by the blood which results into the slaking of the nerve tissues and they become totally numb when in this state of ‘drunkenness’. At this time, the digestive system cannot digest the alcohol. This is the only difference between alcohol and any other sedative.

As we all know, there are two human body systems, namely – the voluntary body system and the involuntary body system. The voluntary system controls the movements of the muscles, while the involuntary system controls the speed of the body parts, the heart beats and the electrical signals that pass from the brain through neurons. The involuntary body system gets affected largely if someone is consuming excessive quantities of alcohol. Alcohol is most probably the biggest depressant of the central nervous system. It also enhances the activities of the ‘gamma aminobutyric acid’ (GABA), and weakens ‘glutamine’. As a result the person’s behavior gets torpid. Lack of coordination and dimming behavior are the basic effects seen, when a person is drunk.”  (Info gathered here)

 

Girls: have you ever gone out to a bar and had a really great conversation with a guy who looks like this?

 

 

 

But in the morning when you wake up and Facebook stalk your new dream guy his profile picture looks more like this?

 

 

 

Okay that was mean.  I’m just kidding (kind of).  The point I’m trying to make is that your vision can be severely impaired by the end of the night even when you swear on your cat’s grave it’s not.  I will be back later with my personal results.

Death of an Innocent

25 Mar

You’ve probably all read this poem before; it’s been around as long as I can remember.  I thought I would post it anyway.  Very touching & sad, maybe a bit morbid (this seems to be the underlying theme of my blog…apologies for constantly putting a damper on your day!)

I went to a party, Mom,
I remembered what you said.
You told me not to drink, Mom,
So I drank soda instead.

I really felt proud inside, Mom,
The way you said I would.
I didn’t drink and drive, Mom,
Even though the others said I should.

I know I did the right thing, Mom,
I know you are always right.
Now the party is finally ending, Mom,
As everyone is driving out of sight.

As I got into my car, Mom,
I knew I’d get home in one piece.
Because of the way you raised me,
So responsible and sweet.

I started to drive away, Mom,
But as I pulled out into the road,
The other car didn’t see me, Mom,
And hit me like a load.

As I lay there on the pavement, Mom,
I hear the policeman say,
“The other guy is drunk,” Mom,
And now I’m the one who will pay.

I’m lying here dying, Mom…
I wish you’d get here soon.
How could this happen to me, Mom?
My life just burst like a balloon.

There is blood all around me, Mom,
And most of it is mine.
I hear the medic say, Mom,
I’ll die in a short time.

I just wanted to tell you, Mom,
I swear I didn’t drink.
It was the others, Mom.
The others didn’t think.

He was probably at the same party as I.
The only difference is, he drank
And I will die.

Why do people drink, Mom?
It can ruin your whole life.
I’m feeling sharp pains now.
Pains just like a knife.

The guy who hit me is walking, Mom,
And I don’t think it’s fair.
I’m lying here dying
And all he can do is stare.

Tell my brother not to cry, Mom.
Tell Daddy to be brave.
And when I go to heaven, Mom,
Put “Daddy’s Girl” on my grave.

Someone should have told him, Mom,
Not to drink and drive.
If only they had told him, Mom,
I would still be alive.

My breath is getting shorter, Mom.
I’m becoming very scared.
Please don’t cry for me, Mom.
When I needed you,
you were always there.

I have one last question, Mom.
Before I say good bye.
I didn’t drink and drive,
So why am I the one to die?

I think that’s a question we often wait too long to ask ourselves. Why is “why” the toxic word used after the fact: Why did this happen? Why did they let him drive? Why didn’t someone take his keys? Why did she get in the car with him?  Why didn’t she wear her seat belt?

WHY do we always wait until it’s too late to realize we could have, should have, would have done something to prevent such a tragedy from happening…had we known at the time?

We’ve got to stop asking why and focus on what we can do to stop people from driving under the influence.  But how?

I don’t care what anyone says. Binge drinking HAPPENS.  You could lecture someone for 8 tedious hours on all the dangers of alcohol and what drinking excessively does to your body’s vital organs, and they will still go out and get drunk with their friends a day later.  I will be the first to admit that I often drink enough to have a hangover the next morning.  Life is short and I love letting loose, celebrating my friendships, and dancing the night away with my boy.  Things are a million times funnier when I’m drunk.  My shyness fades with my sobriety.  My walls come down and I have the most incredible heart-to-hearts with people I never thought I’d build relationships with.  The bottom line is that I like my Kettle pineapple on the rocks.  As a matter of fact, I like 4 or 5 of them.  Maybe you can relate, maybe not.  It is what it is.  The secret, though, is to do whatever you do somewhat responsibly.

YOU ARE NOT INVINCIBLE.  I think it’s hilarious (or perhaps hilariously disturbing) when people who drink and drive say, “don’t worry, I wouldn’t drive if I wasn’t  capable” or “I’m a really good drunk driver”.  Yes.  I have heard both statements.  Multiple times. Hmmm…

Well who the fuck would ever get into a car thinking they CAN’T drive!? Have you ever heard someone say “I’m really drunk, I think I might crash driving home but I’m going to do it anyway.” WTF? No. And if you have, you need to reevaluate your friendship with that person.  There is no such thing as “safe” drunk driving! I don’t know where anyone got that idea, but it seems to be a popular “justification” for getting behind the wheel after a night of partying.  Take it from the people who drove drunk and killed either themselves or someone else.  They obviously thought they were capable of getting home in one piece.  They were wrong.  Learn from the mistakes of others….life is too short to make them all on your own.

Okay, back to my question.  What can we do to stop driving under the influence and how?  This is where I need the attention of Larry Slagle.  Orange County Yellow Cab has a fleet of over 300 sedans and vans, meaning that nobody should ever be short of a ride when in need.  Well, obviously, a cab shortage is not the issue.  It’s the through-the-damn-Yellow-Cab-roof fares that drive us (literally) away from this safe ride option.  Who wants to pay $12 (plus tip) for a 6 minute ride home? Not me (but I hand it over anyway. Ugh.)  That’s the amount I usually pay coming back to my apartment in Newport from the bars in Corona Del Mar (which probably costs less than a buck in gas).  That’s technically sextuple (?) the times it would cost if you drove yourself!  I checked out the Yellow Cab website and here are the rates as listed:

$2.95 flag drop (that’s almost $3 before you even step foot in the cab) and then $2.60 per mile

Bloody hell.  Okay, I understand these people need to make money.  It’s a business, after all.  But I do see a lot of cab drivers sitting around outside bars for lengths of time (aka making zero dollars) while hoards of drunks bundle into their own cars in the adjacent parking lot.  If you lowered the price of your service, wouldn’t demand for that service increase?  Unfortunately not much research has been conducted around this topic so it’s hard to say.  But I think if cabs had more reasonable rates, those people driving themselves home for “free” would instead at the very least consider paying the cab fare and the cabs would therefore be making more rounds between the bar and people’s homes (thus making more $$$).  Well that’s my theory.  I personally think it’s worth a shot.

Let’s take it a step further.  What if Yellow Cab created a safe-ride program that allowed us to invest in a fancy membership card that would credit us these rides home?  It would be the same concept as above, but provide some exclusivity so that more people might be more inclined to hop on board.  This would also enable people to pre-pay when they are in the right state of mind so they don’t have to worry about spending cash when they’re drunk.  When you sign up, you pay $100.  Let’s just say that’s 30 rides home within a 5 mile radius.  Twice a week….15 weekends…4 months worth of safe rides!  And all you have to do when you get in the cab is give the driver your card to swipe and BAM.  You’re done.  Easy, no?

If any of you have suggestions on how to make this proposal more effective, please let me know! I’m not quite sure where I’m going with this…

Drinking & Driving Kills. And that’s a fact.

1 Mar

The most logical way for me to begin this online journey is to just lay all the facts out on the table and take it from there.

In California, 2009

Alcohol-impaired driving fatalities: 950

Under 21 alcohol-impaired fatalities: 156

Alcohol-impaired driving fatalities involving high BAC drivers (.15+): 72%

Alcohol-impaired driving fatalities involving repeat offenders by BAC level: .08-.14 [21%]  .15+ [79%]

DUI arrests under the age of 18: 1,260

DUI arrests of all ages: 208,831

(Data collected from the Century Council)

Scary!  Over 200,000 DUI arrests in the state of California ALONE.  And think how many of those were people you and I know (okay maybe not that many in comparison to 200,000, but out of your friends, classmates, and acquaintances: a good handful).  And then think about all the people who drive drunk and don’t get caught.  A chilling thought.  I was browsing through YouTube videos in search of something that might strike a chord with each of you; something that goes beyond your typical “don’t drink and drive” educational lecture via disturbing photos and stories…

Scratch that. I still thought the video below was very powerful.  It was made in 2008 so some of the facts are outdated, but it by no means discredits the powerful imagery of alcohol related crash sites.  It will definitely rattle your cage a bit.

It’s hard to imagine the cars in the video shown above had real people in them.  People like you and me.  People like our parents, our cousins, our best friends, our boyfriend, our girlfriend, our older brother or little sister…you get the idea.  Nearly impossible, actually, to comprehend the extent of damage, trauma, and horror caused by such accidents when you are on the other side of a TV or computer screen.  I want to bring these photos to life by focusing on one individual whose entire world as she knew it turned upside down and inside out after being struck by a drunk driver.  Her name is Jacqueline Saburido.  Do you recognize her?

 

 

 

What about now?

 

 

 

 

Jacqui was your typical, pretty 20-year-old girl with ambition, passion, and an undying love for music and dance.  She moved to the States from her home country of Venezuela to study the English language at the University of Texas at Austin.  On September 19, 1999, Jacqui and four others left a friend’s birthday party and headed home.  At the same time elsewhere, Regi Stephey, an 18-year-old high school student grabbed his keys after drinking a number of beers at a party.  Somewhere along the way, Regi’s GMC Yukon drifted over the yellow line and collided head-on with the 1990 Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight Regency Jacqui was riding in.  Two passengers were killed upon impact, two in the back were injured, and Jacqui, who had been riding shotgun, was trapped between the dashboard and her seat.  A paramedic was able to put out the first fire that rose from the crippled car’s engine with a fire extinguisher.  But flames crept up again and the passenger door was jammed, leaving both rescuers and Jacqui helpless and terrified of what was to come.

“Jacqui flailed.  Flames wrapped around her.  Her nose and her ears were on fire.  Clumps of her burning hair fell away.  She started to wail.  The paramedics had never heard anything like it.  It was so many sounds at once – suffering and despair, terror and hopelessness….Remnants of her hair, crisp and curled, clung to her skull.  Her scalp was seared, her face indistinguishable.  One eye looked burned open, the other burned shut.  Her shirt was melted, and her skin was crusty, cracked.”

Jacqui was burned alive for 45 excruciating seconds and suffered 3rd degree burns over 60% of her body.  She has undergone more than 40 operations but will never look the same.  You can read Jacqui’s personal story from the very beginning here.  From her childhood to her college years to what life is like for her now; how she copes with the stares and how she manages to still find reasons to smile.  Be warned: I made it to page 18 but had to start skimming because my vision was blurred by a bucket worth of tears.  You will weep.  It is a heart wrenching story.  It is one that makes you question your own strength.  I don’t know if I could handle the unimaginable pain, emotional and physical, Jacqui has endured.  To be quite honest, I think I would have rather died.

On a somewhat lighter note, Jacqui has played a very important and remarkable role as the face of a widely popular and effective campaign against drunk driving.  The campaign hopes the ad will serve as a wake-up call.  What are your thoughts?

 

Oh, and in case you were wondering, Regi was charged with two counts of intoxicated manslaughter and was released from serving his 7 -year prison sentence in 2008.  He is very remorseful about what he did and has even appeared in various anti-drunk driving campaigns.  Although his conscious is probably permanently scarred, Regi has the chance to rebuild and return to a normal life.  Jacqui and the passengers who were killed have not been given that opportunity.  Neither have their families.  Nothing will ever be “normal” for them again.  Regi gets a second chance, while three others never even had a shot at one.  It just isn’t fair.