Northern Health recognizes National Addictions Awareness Week with appeal against drug use and driving

Northern Health is marking National Addictions Awareness Week by asking youth across the region to inform themselves about the dangers of using drugs and driving. NH is also asking parents of young drivers to inform their kids about the risks linked with drug use and driving.

“It is so important that young people are aware of the potentially devastating outcome of driving while under the influence of drugs,” said MLA Blair Lekstrom. “We want every young person in the North to know that getting behind the wheel just isn’t an option.”

?Everyone knows the dangers of drinking and driving. But many people don?t know that using drugs and getting behind the wheel can be every bit as dangerous, by affecting a driver?s reflexes and judgement. We need to change that perception if we?re to make our region?s roads safer? said Debra Fawcett, NH Youth Mental Health and Addiction Services regional manager.

According to data available from 94 police departments in nine provinces, drivers aged 19 to 24 continue to have the highest rates for impaired driving? representing 56 per cent of all reported criminal incidents. Stats Canada data indicates there were 237 impaired driving incidents per 100,000 people across the country in 2005. In the same period, BC had a higher rate of over 255 incidents per 100,000 people.

Northern BC has some of the highest motor vehicle crash rates in the province, a fact that NH and partner agencies have worked to address by forming the regional RoadHealth Coalition. Northern BC youth have also expressed their concern to NH addictions staff about drug use and driving.

NH addictions staff members are asking young drivers to think of using drugs and driving as being just as dangerous as drinking and driving. In particular, they should always have a designated driver who will neither be drinking nor using any substances. Parents should also pay particular attention to making sure any young drivers in their families know the risks of using drugs and driving.

As part of National Addictions Awareness Week, NH addictions staff members will launch a pilot education project in Prince George to inform young drivers of the dangers of using drugs and driving. This effort will include work to encourage young people to use designated drivers.