Drug Related Car Crashes on Rise in Uta

A recent report in a Salt Lake City newspaper indicated that drug-related fatal car crashes are on the rise in Utah again.  The report indicates that 108 individuals from Utah were killed in incidents where someone chose to drink or use drugs before getting behind the wheel in a one year period. Also during that year, the amount of deadly collisions where a driver tested positive for drug use rose 7 percent— from 67% to 72 %.  Within the past decade, these fatalities account for more than a quarter of all fatal crashes within Utah during the 1 year period that was examined.

The report further indicated that most often, marijuana, meth, depressants and narcotics were found within the driver’s system. Perhaps this prompted Utah lawmakers to recently pass a bill which dropped the legal blood alcohol content for driving to .05 percent – making Utah the lowest in the nation.

The DUI report also indicated the following statistics:

  • 81% of drivers arrested for DUI had a blood alcohol content of .08% or higher.
  • 12% of those arrested were under the legal drinking age of 21, with 14 being the youngest.
  • The average blood alcohol content for those arrested was .15%, with the highest being .42%.

Although the recent bill to lower the legal blood alcohol content for driving is significant, more needs to be done to lower the rate of drug related car crashes in Utah.

Source: Desert News, Heather Miller, DUI/Alcohol-Related Crashes Fatalities in Utah, DUI/Alcohol-Related Crashes Fatalities in Utah

Drunk Driving

According to the US Department of Transportation, every two hours, 3 people are killed in highway crashes due to drunk driving. The consequences of drunk driving include: arrests, property damage, injuries, and thousands of deaths each year. A recent report published by the Bureau of Transportation indicates that, “an estimated 4 million U.S. adults reported driving under the influence of alcohol at least once in 2010, yielding an estimated 112 million alcohol-impaired driving episodes.”

The study also found some interesting facts relating to the statistics of drunk driving. They found that the rate of drunk driving is quite high and were surprised that there were not more deaths due to drunk driving because of this high rate. They indicate that, “alcohol-related highway crashes accounted for 13,365 deaths in 2010. In addition, alcohol-related highway crashes annually cost Americans an estimated $37 billion…Among major crimes, driving under the influence has one of the highest arrest rates with more than 1.4 million DUI arrests in 2010. In 2010, alcohol was involved in 2,020 (or 47.2 percent) of pedestrian fatalities, 11,087 (or 39.9 percent) of vehicle occupant fatalities, 209 (or 33.8 percent) of pedal cyclist fatalities. Pedestrians are more vulnerable than highway vehicle occupants are. In addition, drivers involved in traffic crashes that resulted in pedestrian fatalities had less than two-thirds the rate of alcohol involvement as did the pedestrians killed.”

Drunk driving has been shown to be more prevalent among men, with men being involved in close to 81% of the fatal incidents involving drunk driving. Also, recreational vehicles, especially boats, have been examined in their relation to drunk driving and it was found in the recent study that alcohol was involved in 22 percent of fatalities involving boats. In any situation, driving drunk can impair a driver’s judgment, balance, vision, and reaction time.

Within the workplace, pilots and commercial truck drivers are often tested, as well as many others, to determine their blood-alcohol level. While most reports are positive in this area, indicating a lessening of drunk driving, studies have still brought to light that problems do exist and continued testing is absolutely necessary.


U.S. Department of Transportation, Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Drunk Driving by the Numbers- United States, 2010; available at https://www.rita.dot.gov.

College and Alcohol AbuseCollege and Alcohol Abuse

It’s that time of year again: fall leaves, football games, sweaters, and, for some, college.  Many parents feel concerned about sending their kids to college and wonder if their kids will be wise when it comes to alcohol.  Parents of college freshman (or college students younger than 21) wonder how and why alcohol seems to be available to their kids (since it’s been reported that as many as 80 percent of college students admit to drinking alcohol during their time in school).

Below are 4 main points to consider:

  1. Older students buy alcohol for younger students : Individuals of all ages interact during college
  2. Kids will be kids – even if they are college kids!  Colleges have rules about underage drinking but whether or not students choose to obey those rules is up to them.
  3. Parties and events: ID is generally not required to obtain alcohol when attending a party or event during college.
  4. Stealing alcohol: College students have been known to do crazy things and theft is definitely one of them.  Sometimes young college students steal alcohol to drink before they are 21.


Having open, honest, discussions with your child as they grow up and as they leave for college in relation to alcohol use will help facilitate responsible attitudes and behaviors for your college student.


AlcoholismFacts about Alcohol Abuse

Alcoholism continues to be a problem for many and recent statistics from www.cdc.gov (centers for disease control and prevention) from 2013 definitely concur.  They indicate that in 2013 the “percent of adults 18 years of age and over who were current regular drinkers (at least 12 drinks in the past year) was 51.3%.  And, the percent of adults 18 years of age and over who were current infrequent drinkers (1-11 drinks in the past year) was 12.9%.  They go on to say that, “while most people are safe and responsible drinkers, statistics show that the minority who consume excess quantities on a regular basis have an impact that “ripples outward to encompass their families, friends, and communities,” citing the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). That is to say, that while the above 2013 statistics may not be shocking, they do show that many individuals consume alcohol often and this consumption does filter down to other groups who abuse alcohol.

Some interesting facts listed in accordance with high rates and statistics concerning alcohol abuse (as reported by learn-about-alcoholism.com ) indicate the following:

  • More than 100,000 U.S. deaths are caused by excessive alcohol consumption each year. Direct and indirect causes of death include drunk driving, cirrhosis of the liver, falls, cancer, and stroke.
  • 48 percent of persons aged 12 and over in the U.S. are drinkers This translates to an estimated 109 million people.
  • Nearly 18 million Americans (8.5 percent of adults_ meet the diagnostic criteria for alcohol abuse or alcoholism. For diagnostic criteria from the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DMV-IV), click here.
  • Alcohol abuse and dependence is more common among males than females and decrease with aging.
  • The progression of alcoholism appears to be faster in women than in men.
  • More than one-half of American adults have a close family member who has or has had alcoholism.
  • Approximately one in four children in the U.S. under 18 years old is exposed to alcohol abuse or alcohol dependence in the family.
  • Alcohol is the top drug of choice for children and adolescents.
  • Each day, 7000 children in the U.S. under the age of 16 take their first drink.
  • Children of alcoholics are significantly more likely to initiate drinking during adolescence and to develop alcohol use disorders.
  • Approximately 20 percent of persons aged 12 or older participated in binge drinking at least once in the 30 days prior. Binge” drinking means having five or more drinks on one occasion.
  • The highest prevalence of binge and heavy drinking was for young adults aged 18 to 25, with the peak rate occurring at age 21.
  • More than 35 percent of adults with an alcohol problem developed symptoms such as binge drinking by age 19.
  • Alcohol–related crashes (i.e., those in which a driver or pedestrian had a blood alcohol concentration greater than zero) account for 41 percent of all fatal car accidents.
  • Alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes kill someone every 31 minutes and non-fatally injure someone every two minutes.
  • The economic costs of alcohol abuse in the U.S. are estimated to be approximately $185 billion annually.

Each one of these points about alcohol is concerning, however, those facts dealing with children and adolescents are even more noteworthy as a new generation is brought into contact with this addiction and these abusive cycles.

“I am a firm believer that anything is possible. I know the struggles of picking up the pieces, of rebuilding. Today my son and I have a beautiful relationship. I have no regrets.”

Drug Rehab Success Story

Shanin Rapp was born to a 14-year-old, drug-addicted mother who put her up for adoption. She was sexually and emotionally abused in her adoptive home, and had already started “sipping” alcohol by the age of 12. On her first time really drinking, she drank a fifth of vodka in less than 10 minutes and her heart stopped. Fortunately she was in school and was given CPR and was revived. That bad experience only served to spur her on to more drinking, and eventually being kicked out of her home at 17. Experimentation with drugs came next with no real consequences until she was introduced to freebase or crack cocaine and it was “love at first use.”

In two short years she destroyed everything that was dear to her. She willingly gave up her son to her sister so that she could run free, also losing her home, her marriage, and almost her life. Waking up from

a four-days-long coma on her 30th birthday in a strange hospital in Colorado, she realized that she didn’t want to

die. Choosing life meant getting help while she rebuilt her life and worked toward getting her son back. “I am a firm believer that anything is possible,” she says. “I know the struggles of picking up the pieces, of rebuilding. Today my son and I have a beautiful relationship. I have no regrets.”

Shanin earned her LSAC and works in the adult felony drug court. She sits on many boards and committees within the local treatment and recovery com- munity and works tirelessly to promote recovery in Utah. “I will always work in this field to help make treatment and recovery accessible, acceptable and understood.”


AlcoholismShocking Alcohol Abuse Statistics

It is common knowledge that alcoholism and alcohol abuse are problems that affect us in the United States. However, some recent studies, which quantify and measure alcohol abuse related statistics, are somewhat shocking. The website learn-about-alcoholism.com posted some surprising statistics related to alcohol abuse. They indicate that:

  1. Alcohol is the #1 drug problem in the U.S.
  2. There are more than 12 million alcoholics in the U.S.
  3. Three-fourths of all adults drink alcohol; 6% are alcoholics
  4. Americans spend a total of $197 million each day on alcohol
  5. In the U.S., a person is killed in an alcohol-related car accident every 30 minutes
  6. Nearly 7 million persons age 12 to 20 are binge drinkers
  7. 75% of all high school seniors report being drunk at least once
  8. Kids who begin drinking before the age of 15 are four times more likely to become alcoholics than those who do not begin drinking until the legal age of 21
  9. People with a higher education are more likely to drink.
  10. Higher income people are more likely to drink.

These alcohol abuse statistics are somewhat surprising since many stereotype alcoholics or alcohol abusers as lower income, less-educated individuals. Also, the prevalence of abuse is very surprisingly high.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also cite some interesting and shocking statistics related to prevalence of alcohol abuse and mortality rates of alcohol abusers. They indicate that 50.9% of U.S. adults 18 years of age and over are current regular drinkers (at least 12 drinks in the past year). Also, in 2010, there were 15,183 alcoholic liver disease related deaths and 24,518 alcohol-induced deaths—excluding accidents and homicides. (See Source: Summary Health Statistics for U.S. Adults: National Health Interview Survey, 2010, table 27 for more information).

This also brings up an interesting point: what about the statistics involving others affected by alcohol abuse? Many are impacted by alcohol abuse although they are not alcoholics or may not even drink alcohol at all. Learn-about-alcoholism.com also found that alcohol is a factor in the following: 73% of all felonies, 73% of child beating cases, 41% of rape cases, 81% of wife battering cases, 72% of stabbings, and 83% of homicides.

These statistics are tragic considering the innocent victims who have suffered. Also, family members are severely impacted by any one in their home who abuses alcohol. The social, economic, and emotional consequences of living with alcohol abuse are simply too difficult to measure but are very large and far-reaching.



Although many people think they are one and the same, alcoholism (alcohol dependence) and alcohol abuse are two different forms of problem drinking.  According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, alcoholism is defined as one who has signs of physical addiction to alcohol and continues to drink, despite problems with physical health, mental health, and social, family, or job responsibilities. Further, with alcoholism, alcohol may control one’s life and relationships.  Alcohol abuse, on the other hand, is when one’s drinking leads to problems, but not physical addiction.

There is no known cause of alcohol abuse or alcoholism. Research shows that a person’s environment and peer influences impact the risk of becoming alcohol dependent.  Further, although a massive amount of scientific research indicates heredity plays some role in developing alcoholism, having a family history of alcoholism does not doom a person into becoming an alcoholic. The genetic tendencies can be overcome. Also, although research suggests that certain genes may increase the risk of alcoholism, which genes and how they work are not known.  What is known, however, is that how much a person drinks can influence their chances of becoming dependent. Again, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, those at risk for developing alcoholism include:

  • Men who have 15 or more drinks a week
  • Women who have 12 or more drinks a week
  • Any individual who has five or more drinks per occasion at least once a week
  • (One drink is defined as a 12-ounce bottle of beer, a 5-ounce glass of wine, or a 1 1/2-ounce shot of liquor)
  • People have an increased risk for alcohol abuse and dependence if they have a parent with alcoholism.
  • Individuals may also be more likely to abuse alcohol or become dependent if they:
  • Are a young adult under peer pressure
  • Have depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, or schizophrenia
  • Have easy access to alcohol
  • Have low self-esteem
  • Have problems with relationships
  • Live a stressful lifestyle
  • Live in a culture alcohol use is more common and accepted

It is interesting to note that alcohol abuse is on the rise.  Around 1 out of 6 people in the United States have a drinking problem.  Again, not all of these cases are classified as alcoholism, but they may lead to the disease eventually.  Symptoms of alcoholism can include people who often:

  • Continue to drink, even when health, work, or family are being harmed
  • Drink alone
  • Become violent when drinking
  • Become hostile when asked about drinking
  • Are not able to control drinking — being unable to stop or reduce alcohol intake
  • Make excuses to drink
  • Miss work or school, or have a decrease in performance because of drinking
  • Stop taking part in activities because of alcohol
  • Need to use alcohol on most days to get through the day
  • Neglect to eat or eat poorly
  • Do not care about or ignore how they dress or whether they are clean
  • Try to hide alcohol use
  • Shake in the morning or after periods when they have not a drink

Alcoholism is a major social, economic, and public health problem. Problem drinking can affect every part of a person’s life. If an individual has an alcohol problem, abstinence can help improve their mental and physical health and possibly, relationships.  Treatment programs can help you quit. However, drinking again after treatment is common. Research has shown that it is important to have a good support system when overcoming alcoholism.

See http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth for more info

Alcohol poisoning occurs when someone drinks to the point that their blood alcohol content (BAC) reaches dangerous levels and causes the central nervous system to slow down. Breathing and heart rate become slower and slower, and the person can lose consciousness, slip into a coma and die. If someone is unconscious and begins vomiting, they could choke to death on their own vomit. The severe dehydration of alcohol poisoning can cause seizures or permanent brain damage.

Alcohol poisoning is most likely to happen when someone drinks a large amount of alcohol very quickly. Because the liver can only process roughly 1 drink per hour, a person’s BAC can continue to rise for several hours.

Warning signs of alcohol poisoning:

  • Person cannot be roused (unconscious).
  • Vomiting.
  • Seizures.
  • Slow breathing (fewer than 8 breaths per minute).
  • Irregular breathing (10 seconds or more between breaths).
  • Hypothermia (low body temperature), bluish skin color, or paleness.

If you find a friend that has any of these symptoms, call 911.


Segments of this post appeared on DrugAbuse.gov.

According to a 2009 Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) study, there were 4.6 million drug-related 24-hour emergency department (ED) visits in 2009.  According to the study, “Almost 50 percent were attributed to adverse reactions to pharmaceuticals taken as prescribed, and 45 percent involved drug abuse.” What’s more alarming is the fact that from 2004 to 2009, drug-related ED visits increased 81 percent, from 2.5 million to 4.6 million visits!

The DAWN estimated that of the 2.1 million drug abuse visits—

  • 27.1 percent involved nonmedical use of pharmaceuticals (i.e., prescription or OTC medications, dietary supplements).
  • 21.2 percent involved illicit drugs.
  • 14.3 percent involved alcohol, in combination with other drugs.

Information courtesy of DrugAbuse.gov

It should also be noted that “in 2009, almost one million visits involved an illicit drug, either alone or in combination with other types of drugs.”

DAWN estimated that—

  • cocaine was involved in 422,896 ED visits.
  • marijuana was involved in 376,467 ED visits.
  • heroin was involved in 213,118 ED visits.
  • stimulants, including amphetamines and methamphetamine, were involved in 93,562 ED visits.
  • other illicit drugs—such as PCP, ecstasy, and GHB—were involved much less frequently than any of the drug types mentioned above.

Information courtesy of DrugAbuse.gov

Finally, the 2009 DAWN study “estimated 519,650 ED visits related to the use of alcohol in combination with other drugs. Alcohol was most frequently combined with—

  • central nervous system agents (e.g., analgesics, stimulants, sedatives) (229,230 visits).
  • cocaine (152,631 visits).
  • marijuana (125,438 visits).
  • psychotherapeutic agents (e.g., antidepressants and antipsychotics) (44,217 visits)
  • heroin (43,110 visits).

Information courtesy of DrugAbuse.gov

Did you know that underage drinking and alcohol abuse in Utah cost the state more than $357 million dollars in 2010?  It’s crazy to think about, but when you add youth injury, alcohol treatment, violence and traffic crashes, the numbers start to add up.

According to a recent report by the Underage Drinking Enforcement Training Center, there are approximately 60,000 underage drinkers consuming alcohol in Utah each year!  And, in 2009, underage drinkers consumed 5.5 percent of the alcohol in the state, which translates to $107 million in sales.  These numbers are staggering, especially because underage drinkers are more susceptible to long-term alcohol abuse behaviors.

Here are some more statistics.  According to the same report, in 2009, students grades nine through 12 reported the following statistics:

  • 38.6 percent had at least one drink of alcohol on one or more days during their life.
  • 11.5 percent had their first drink of alcohol, other than a few sips, before age 13.
  • 18.2 percent had at least one drink of alcohol on one or more occasion in the past 30 days.
  • 11.5 percent had five or more drinks of alcohol in a row (binge drinking) in the past 30 days.
  • 2.7 percent had at least one drink of alcohol on school property in the past 30 days.

Information courtesy of the Underage Drinking Enforcement Training Center

What do we do about underage drinking in Utah?

First, parents should take an active role in their children’s lives. Know where your kids are, and what they’re doing.  Second, alcohol in the home should be locked up and secured.  Third, if an underage drinker asks you to buy alcohol for them, don’t!  Not only are you aiding an underage drinker, but it could get you one year in prison and/or a $2,500 fine.

Bottom line, underage drinking in Utah is a serious problem.  Do everything in your power to stop someone you know from underage drinking.  Who knows?  You may just save a life.

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