Emotional Cost of Drunk Driving

Drunk driving affects more people than just the offender. The consequences of drunk driving extend to other drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and their families. An encounter with a drunk driver can be just as difficult emotionally as it is financially and physically, if not more so.

Everyone involved in a drunk driving traffic incident runs the risk of developing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This disorder goes beyond depression and often includes experiencing flashbacks of the unpleasant memories of the crash scene. These memories interfere with a person’s thoughts and awareness. They can happen as a person is driving or when certain images or smells remind him or her of the traumatic incident.

Symptoms of PTSD include:

  • Nightmares.
  • Flashes of anger.
  • Trouble concentrating or remembering.
  • Exaggerated responses.
  • Being overly vigilant or cautious.

People who are affected by PTSD usually experience the majority or all of these symptoms for a month or even longer.

Deaths that occur suddenly for which family members and friends are ill-prepared can be more difficult to deal with than anticipated deaths. Sudden deaths are even more difficult to process when a person is killed violently or in a manner that could have been prevented.

Losing a loved one due to another person’s negligence causes strong emotions, especially anger. Sometimes, a person experiences violent thoughts or considers doing things that are out of character.

As with any loss or traumatic experience, it is common for a person to go through a cycle known as the seven stages of grief. The stages of grief include:

  • Shock or disbelief.
  • Denial.
  • Bargaining.
  • Guilt.
  • Anger.
  • Depression.
  • Acceptance and hope.

Other common reactions to traumatic grief include:

  • Feelings of isolation.
  • Poor appetite.
  • Sleeplessness.
  • Loss of self concern.
  • Withdrawing from others.
  • Loss of motivation.
  • Spiritual confusion.

During this difficult time, there are several actions a person can take to find relief. Many people find it helpful to vent and tell their stories to others or write about their experience in a journal. It is advisable to seek help from a professional counselor or support group, as both offer positive environments and support that can help a person work through his or her grief.

For some people, receiving information about the incident and having questions answered can help bring closure. Many times, victims choose to dedicate their lives to reaching out to others and promoting awareness about drunk driving.