Canaan, CT – This June, Mountainside treatment center celebrates National Safety Month. Mountainside encourages communities in Connecticut and beyond to protect their well-being by taking steps to reduce their risk of injury on the road and in the workplace.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that injury is the primary cause of death for Americans between the ages of one and 44. Poisoning, falls, and motor vehicle accidents are some of the leading causes of injury. Impaired driving in particular presents a considerable public health issue, with nearly 28 million Americans over the age of 16 admitting to driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
In 2016, nearly 44 percent of drivers involved in fatal motor vehicle accidents tested positive for drugs, according to the Governors Highway Safety Administration. Marijuana was the most commonly used drug among drivers who were killed in car crashes. Nearly 40 percent of drug-positive drivers also had alcohol in their systems.
“There’s a common misconception that marijuana is harmless, but it can impact driving ability by causing drowsiness, impairing decision making, and reducing coordination,” says Carolee Paruta, Regional Director of Outpatient Services at Mountainside. “Consuming marijuana before getting behind the wheel is risky in itself, but using it in combination with alcohol can be even more life-threatening.”
Aside from causing chaos on the roadways, drugs and alcohol also increase the likelihood of occupational injury. Because substances lower users’ inhibitions, they can create unnecessary productivity and health hazards in the workplace. The nonprofit Facing Addiction states that employees who suffer from alcohol use disorders have a 270 percent higher chance of sustaining injuries on the job.
“Spreading awareness about the dangers of substance misuse is essential because many accidents involving drugs and alcohol are preventable,” says Paruta. “Before driving under the influence of substances, people can find a designated driver or take a cab instead. Employers can share recovery resources with any team members who may be struggling with addiction. By taking simple precautionary steps, people can help build safer communities.”