Since 1987, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. (NCADD) has declared April as Alcohol Awareness month.  Their goal?  To raise awareness about the many important issues surrounding alcohol and drug use.  This year’s theme, “For the Health of It:  Early Education on Alcoholism and Addiction”, prompted us to share some of our own knowledge on the effects of alcohol from a legal perspective, as well as to provide some helpful tips on how to drink responsibly.

While many of the legal consequences of alcohol misuse are commonly known, most people don’t actually take the time to think about these consequences and what they might mean to them or their families.  Underage drinking, binge drinking, and driving under the influence can result in consequences such as:

  • driver’s license suspension or revocation
  • confiscation of your vehicle
  • expensive fines
  • insurance rate increases
  • a criminal record
  • jail time, and
  • harm to yourself and others.

These consequences can affect you, not just temporarily, but often for life - as the stigma of an alcohol-related offense can affect your ability to drive, remain financially stable, or even start a career.  It is important to be aware of these consequences, and to follow the guidelines listed below to ensure that you are drinking responsibly.

  1. Don’t drink or serve drinks to others under the age of 21.  If you are unsure of someone’s age, ask them before giving them a drink.  The legal penalties of underage drinking can be life-changing, so don’t take underage drinking lightly.
  2. Don’t combine alcohol with energy drinks.  This can be a dangerously misleading combination keeping you from knowing when you’ve had too much to drink.
  3. Don’t overdo it.  Know your limits and don’t let others pressure you into drinking more than you can handle.
  4. Don’t drink and drive.  Driving under the influence is one of easiest ways to suffer from long-term legal, physical, and emotional consequences.  Before you start drinking have a designated driver, a place to stay, or another way home.
  5. Stay hydrated.  Drinking water in between drinks will not only help to keep you from drinking too much, but it will also prevent dehydration and other negative physical side effects.
  6. Know what you’re drinking.  Keep a close eye on what you are being served and how much alcohol that it contains.  Some drinks can be misleading.
  7. Get help if you think that you might be suffering from an addiction.  If you find that you or someone you know is drinking more and more, ignoring o ther responsibilities, thinking about alcohol frequently, or continuing to use alcohol despite experiencing negative consequences, it may be alcoholism.  Don’t be afraid to seek medical help if you suspect that you or someone you know is suffering from alcoholism or alcohol abuse.

Follow these guidelines for responsible alcohol use and use common sense to protect yourself and those around you whenever alcohol is being served.  Your future may depend on it!

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