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Page last updated Oct. 13, 2020 by Doug McVay, Editor/Senior Policy Analyst.

31. Alcohol In Combination With Antidepressants

"Antidepressants are most commonly in the form of selective serotonin uptake inhibitors (SSRIs), such as fluoxetine (Prozac®) and sertraline (Zoloft®). They can cause impairment, especially in circumstances where extremely high blood concentrations are measured or if they are taken outside of medical need or therapeutic treatment. There is also an additional risk of impairment associated with combined use with alcohol."

Lacey, John H.; Kelley-Baker, Tara; Furr-Holden, Debra; Voas, Robert B.; Romano, Eduardo; Ramirez, Anthony; Brainard, Katharine; Moore, Christine; Torres, Pedro; and Berning, Amy , "2007 National Roadside Survey of Alcohol and Drug Use by Drivers," Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation (Calverton, MD: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, December 2009), p. 27.

32. Alcohol Toxicity

"Alcohol thus ranks at the dangerous end of the toxicity spectrum. So despite the fact that about 75 percent of all adults in the United States enjoy an occasional drink, it must be remembered that alcohol is quite toxic. Indeed, if alcohol were a newly formulated beverage, its high toxicity and addiction potential would surely prevent it from being marketed as a food or drug."

Gable, Robert S., "The Toxicity of Recreational Drugs," American Scientist (Research Triangle Park, NC: Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society, May-June 2006) Vol. 94, No. 3, pp. 207-208.

33. Alcohol and Driving Impairment

"The findings in this report confirm those from the most recent National Roadside Survey, which in 2007 found that only a small percentage of adult drivers are alcohol-impaired. That survey showed that 2.2% of drivers on the road on Friday afternoon or Friday or Saturday night had a BAC of ?0.08 g/dL (12). Additionally, the findings in this report are consistent with alcohol-impaired driving fatality data. Men accounted for 81% of all alcohol-impaired driving episodes in 2010 and 82% of all alcohol-impaired drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2009 (1). Likewise, men aged 21–34 accounted for 32% of alcohol-impaired driving episodes and 35% of all alcohol-impaired drivers involved in fatal crashes (Tonja Lindsey, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, personal communication, 2011)."

"Vital Signs: Alcohol-Impaired Driving Among Adults — United States, 2010," Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, October 7, 2011) Vol. 60, No. 39, p. 1354.

34. Driving Fatalities

"Alcohol-impaired driving fatalities declined 20% from 13,491 to 10,839 from 2006 to 2009, the most recent year for which fatality data are available (7). However, the proportion of all motor vehicle fatalities that involve at least one alcohol-impaired driver has remained stable at about 33%, because non-alcohol-impaired driving fatalities have declined at the same rate as alcohol-impaired fatalities (7). This study indicated that alcohol-impaired driving rates remain disproportionally high among young men, binge drinkers, persons who do not always wear a seatbelt, and persons living in the Midwest."

"Vital Signs: Alcohol-Impaired Driving Among Adults — United States, 2010," Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, October 7, 2011) Vol. 60, No. 39, p. 1352.

35. Marijuana, Alcohol, and Driving

"As with cannabis, alcohol use increased variability in lane position and headway (Casswell, 1979; Ramaekers et al., 2000; Smiley et al., 1981; Stein et al., 1983) but caused faster speeds (Casswell, 1977; Krueger & Vollrath, 2000; Peck et al., 1986; Smiley et al., 1987; Stein et al., 1983). Some studies also showed that alcohol use alone and in combination with cannabis affected visual search behavior (Lamers & Ramaekers, 2001; Moskowitz, Ziedman, & Sharma, 1976). Alcohol consumption combined with cannabis use also worsened driver performance relative to use of either substance alone. Lane position and headway variability were more exaggerated (Attwood et al., 1981; Ramaekers et al., 2000; Robbe, 1998) and speeds were faster (Peck et al., 1986).
"Both simulator and road studies showed that relative to alcohol use alone, participants who used cannabis alone or in combination with alcohol were more aware of their intoxication. Robbe (1998) found that participants who consumed 100 g/kg of cannabis rated their performance worse and the amount of effort required greater compared to those who consumed alcohol (0.05 BAC). Ramaekers et al. (2000) showed that cannabis use alone and in combination with alcohol consumption increased self-ratings of intoxication and decreased self-ratings of performance. Lamers and Ramaekers (2001) found that cannabis use alone (100 g/kg) and in combination with alcohol consumption resulted in lower ratings of alertness, greater perceptions of effort, and worse ratings of performance."

Laberge, Jason C., Nicholas J. Ward, "Research Note: Cannabis and Driving -- Research Needs and Issues for Transportation Policy," Journal of Drug Issues, Dec. 2004, pp. 978.

36. Drunk Driving and Students

"During the 30 days before the survey, 24.1% of students nationwide had ridden one or more times in a car or other vehicle driven by someone who had been drinking alcohol (Table 5). The prevalence of having ridden with a driver who had been drinking alcohol was higher among white female (23.8%) than white male (20.5%) students. Overall, the prevalence of having ridden with a driver who had been drinking alcohol was higher among Hispanic (30.7%) than white (22.1%) and black (22.8%) students; higher among Hispanic female (30.7%) than white female (23.8%) and black female (23.2%) students; and higher among Hispanic male (30.7%) than white male (20.5%) and black male (22.5%) students."

"Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance — United States, 2011," Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control, June 8, 2012) Vol. 61, No. 4, p. 5.

37. Marijuana, Alcohol, and Driving

"When compared to alcohol, cannabis is detected far less often in accident-involved drivers. Drummer et al. (2003) cited several studies and found that alcohol was detected in 12.5% to 79% of drivers involved in accidents. With regard to crash risk, a large study conducted by Borkenstein, Crowther, Shumate, Zeil and Zylman (1964) compared BAC in approximately 6,000 accident-involved drivers and 7,600 nonaccident controls. They determined the crash risk for each BAC by comparing the number of accident-involved drivers with detected levels of alcohol at each BAC to the number of nonaccident control drivers with the same BAC. They found that crash risk increased sharply as BAC increased. More specifically, at a BAC of 0.10, drivers were approximately five times more likely to be involved in an accident.
"Similar crash risk results were obtained when data for culpable drivers were evaluated. Drummer (1995) found that drivers with detected levels of alcohol were 7.6 times more likely to be culpable. Longo et al. (2000) showed that drivers who tested positive for alcohol were 8.0 times more culpable, and alcohol consumption in combination with cannabis use produced an odds ratio of 5.4. Similar results were also noted by Swann (2000) and Drummer et al. (2003)."

Laberge, Jason C., Nicholas J. Ward, "Research Note: Cannabis and Driving -- Research Needs and Issues for Transportation Policy," Journal of Drug Issues, Dec. 2004, pp. 981.

38. History of Drunk Driving

"The first discussion of a relationship between alcohol consumption and motor vehicle collisions to be published in an American scientific journal appeared as an editorial in the Quarterly Journal of Inebriation (1904). The editor had received a communication about 25 fatal crashes of automobile wagons in which 23 occupants died and 14 suffered injuries. Nineteen of the drivers had used alcohol within an hour of the crash. The author of the communication commented that driving automobile wagons was a more dangerous activity for drinkers than driving locomotives. Drinking by on-duty railroad employees had been prohibited since 1843 (Borkenstein, 1985)."

Blomberg, Richard D.; Peck, Raymond C.; Moskowitz, Herbert; Burns, Marcelline; and Fiorentino, Dary, "Crash Risk of Alcohol Involved Driving: A Case-Control Study," Dunlap and Associates, Inc. (Stamford, CT: September 2005), p. 3.

39. Alcohol Industry

Law and Policies

"Since there are substantial commercial interests involved in promotion of alcohol’s manufacture, distribution, pricing, and sale,2 the alcohol industry has become increasingly involved in the policy arena to protect its commercial interests, leading to a common claim among public health professionals that the industry is influential in setting the policy agenda, shaping the perspectives of legislators on policy issues, and determining the outcome of policy debates towards self-regulation.2"

Anderson, Peter; Chisholm, Dan; and Fuhr, Daniela C., "Effectiveness and cost-eff ectiveness of policies and programmes to reduce the harm caused by alcohol," The Lancet (London, United Kingdom: June, 27, 2009) Vol. 373, p. 2243.

40. History of Alcohol Prohibition

"By all estimates, the Eighteenth Amendment was a costly blunder. Between 1920 and 1930, the federal government spent an average of twenty-one million dollars enforcing the Volstead Act.12 [the National Prohibition Act - enabling legislation for the 18th Amendment] During the same period, the United States lost an estimated $1.25 billion in potential tax revenues annually.13 In spite of the resources consumed by Alcohol Prohibition, it affected only one segment of the nation. National Prohibition cut in half the consumption of spirits by the poor and working classes, but the “consumption of alcoholic beverages by the business, professional and salaried class [was] fully as great . . . as it was prior to prohibition.”14 While National Prohibition kept the poor dry, it made local organized crime groups wealthy enough to extend their control over entire cities.15 This success further reflected mainstream America’s implicit rejection of temperance morality. As Al Capone himself so pointedly remarked:

"I make my money by supplying a public demand. If I break the law, my customers, who number hundreds of the best people in Chicago, are as guilty as I am. The only difference between us is that I sell and they buy. Everybody calls me a racketeer. I call myself a business man. When I sell liquor, it’s bootlegging. When my patrons serve it on a silver tray on Lake Shore Drive, it’s hospitality."

Whitebread, Charles H., "Us" and "Them" and the Nature of Moral Regulation," Southern California Law Review (Los Angeles, CA: University of Southern California Gould School of Law, 2000) Vol 74, No. 2, p. 364.