The Ripple Effect

Part Three: Sobriety

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“About 31% of all traffic crash fatalities in the United States involve drunk drivers with blood alcohol contents of .08 g/dL or higher. In 2021, there were 13,384 people killed in these preventable crashes,” according to the United States Department of Transportation. “In fact, on average over the 10-year period from 2012-2021, about 10,850 people died every year in drunk-driving crashes,” continues the report.

One person was killed in a drunk driving crash every 39 minutes in the United States, in 2021, even though it was and is illegal to drive drunk. 

“Car crashes are a leading cause of death for teens, and about a quarter of fatal crashes involve an underage drinking driver,” according to the United States Department of Transportation. “In 2021, 27% of young drivers 15 to 20 years old who were killed in crashes had BACs of .01 g/dL or higher.”

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, “Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a medical condition characterized by an impaired ability to stop or control alcohol use despite adverse social, occupational, or health consequences.” 

The description also encompasses similar terms such as alcohol abuse, alcohol dependence, alcohol addiction, and the informal term, alcoholism.  

AUD is considered a brain disorder and like everything else, varies in severity. The misused of alcohol only feeds AUD and many relapses can occur. 

No matter how severe, there is hope for people suffering from AUD. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, “The good news is that no matter how severe the problem may seem, evidence-based treatment with behavioral therapies, mutual-support groups, and/or medications can help people with AUD achieve and maintain recovery.” 

According to the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics, “Most American adults consume alcohol at least once in their lifetime. Among them, 6.7% will develop alcohol use disorder (AUD).” 

The current population of the town of Torrington is 6,132 and with those statistics, approximately 410 members of our small community are struggling with AUD.  When considering the entire county, Goshen County has nearly 1000 individuals battling AUD, statistically. 

There are resources available for anyone struggling with alcoholism. 

“Celebrate Recovery is like a 12-step program, but we use Jesus Christ as the basis to get through things that are more unique,” Carol Jackson-Clapper said.

“The problem is, a lot of things that have happened to us in our childhood and early adulthood have led to the drinking, the drugs, the depression whatever somebody is going through so trying to bury it isn’t the answer,” Jackson-Clapper said. “You have to unbury it. You have to go through and acknowledge how it hurt you because it damages us emotionally. It damages us physically and you have to work through that.”

Alcoholics anonymous (AA) also has a local chapter.

“Alcoholics Anonymous, also known as the “Big Book,” presents the AA program for recovery from alcoholism. First published in 1939, its purpose was to show other alcoholics how the first 100 people of AA. got sober. Now translated into over 70 languages, it is still considered AA’s basic text,” the website explains. 

AA focuses on maintaining the traditional anonymity while providing meetings for members to “share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism,” according to their website. 

Open meetings are offered, locally, where nonalcoholic may attend for support and feedback from others and closed meetings are available for members who desire to stop drinking. AA offers peer-lead, faith-based instruction to help alcoholics recover from their addiction.

“84.5% of Wyoming residents believe that drinking and driving in their community is a serious or somewhat serious problem,” according to the Executive Summary of Alcohol and Crimes in Wyoming – 2021 data report by the Wyoming Association of Sheriffs and Chiefs of Police. “79.7% view alcohol abuse by Wyoming adults as a serious or somewhat serious problem.” 

Public intoxication is often seen as just a public bother however it often leads to grabbing the keys and slipping into the driver’s seat to drive drunk.

According to the summary, “Driving under the influence is, unquestionably, the crime that has the greatest impact and consequence in Wyoming. It accounts for the greatest number of custodial arrests and is the cause of more deaths and serious injuries than any other crime.”