Friends / Family Intervention

Although the decision to drive under the influence is ultimately made by the driver, friends and family have a responsibility to encourage smart decisions and to help deter drunk driving when possible. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of creating the proper mindset and helping family members and friends realize that driving drunk is no small matter.

In an effort to get this message out, the Ad Council of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) promoted their campaign Friends Don’t Let Friends Drive Drunk. In addition, designated driver programs have been implemented into some community programming and services, and advice is readily available for family members of someone with a drinking problem.

Starting in schools at a young age, groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) are making significant changes by increasing membership and spreading education. Students are taught how to make constructive decisions and how to choose alternate activities to achieve “healthy highs.”

Many required health course curriculums in high schools also promote this idea of drug and alcohol-free “highs.” These groups and programs are working to create a new definition of “cool,” in which students realize the severity of actions like driving under the influence. The groups teach students how to recognize when a friend is using poor judgment. The hope is that the student will then be able to prevent that friend from taking a bad decision too far.

In addition, campaigns such as Friends Don’t Let Friends Drive Drunk have had enormous success in reaching out to the young community. The campaign’s mission is to use the power of advertising to raise awareness and create action against drinking and driving. To date, NHTSA surveys reveal the campaign has reached some 84% of their targeted US audience.

Designated driving programs and campaigns similarly inform the community of an easy way to avoid driving under the influence. By encouraging groups of friends and families to designate a driver for the night at social events, countless accidents have been avoided. The designated driver concept is one of the most responsible ways to avoid drunk driving. It only requires a simple plan in advance.

In addition, basic steps like taking away the keys of a family member who has been drinking, or a family discussion while the individual is sober regarding these concerns are a few small steps that can deter drinking and driving. An individual is far less likely to commit a DUI if he or she knows that it will greatly affect a relationship with a friend or family member.

Families with a member who has a drinking problem may want to consider contacting groups or organizations for help or counseling. Although it is ultimately the responsibility of the individual to seek help, a family member may play more of a role in getting an afflicted relative to seek treatment than he or she may initially think.