Few among us have not been adversely impacted by the abuse of alcohol or drugs. Whether it’s a family member, friend, or we ourselves who have struggled, we are well aware of the dangers.
Blackouts and memory lapses can occur after just a few drinks. The US National Institutes of Health (NIH) notes that recent research shows these incidents are “much more common among social drinkers than previously assumed.” Over 50% of American college students report having experienced a blackout from drinking at some point in their lives – a rather sobering statistic.
More alarming is this NIH discovery: many of those students “reported learning later that they had participated in a wide range of potentially dangerous events they could not remember, including vandalism, unprotected sex, and driving.”
We all know the tragic toll drinking and driving takes. As personal injury lawyers in Toronto, we see the aftermath on a regular basis. The thought of drunken young people engaging in such dangerous activities – and not even remembering it – is truly frightening.
When we think of alcohol abuse, we tend to think of alcoholics suffering from cirrhosis of the liver or brain damage. Alcohol and its effects are far more insidious than that. Women are more susceptible to alcohol and binge drinking far more prevalent than we might like to think. The NIH provides this list of other factors that influence how and to what extent alcohol affects the brain:
- how much and how often a person drinks;
- the age at which he or she first began drinking, and how long he or she has been drinking;
- the person’s age, level of education, gender, genetic background, and family history of alcoholism;
- whether he or she is at risk as a result of prenatal alcohol exposure; and
- his or her general health status.
When it comes to illicit drugs, which physically change our brains, prevention is definitely the best strategy. The American National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) notes that adolescence is the time when many begin “trying” drugs. The younger a person is when he experiments, the more likely it is he will develop addiction.
As adults, the NIDA says, we’re more likely to try drugs during times of transition, such as divorce or a job loss. Teens are more likely to try them during those times, too, so moving and/or switching schools are times when they’re more vulnerable.
At our practice, we see the results of drug and alcohol abuse not just in car accidents, but in household and sports injuries. Driving may be inviting the most extreme consequence, but falling down stairs, or breaking limbs playing hockey or volleyball, are preventable long-term problems, as well.