WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. – The Division of Behavioral & Mental Health Services (DBMHS) is dedicated to helping native communities battle substance abuse and impaired driving in and around the Navajo Nation. Our prevention programs and treatment services are aimed at finding healthy ways to cope with emotional stress and avoid driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

The month of December has been recognized and proclaimed as National Impaired Driving Prevention Month by every president of the United States since 1981. According to the National Association of Drug Court Professionals, the Thanksgiving and Christmas season is “one of the deadliest and most dangerous times on America’s roadways due to an increase in impaired driving.”

Here are some of the highlights of the U.S Presidential Proclamation recognizing December 2019 as National Impaired Driving Prevention Month: (https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/presidential-proclamation-national-impaired-driving-prevention-month-2019/):

  • In 2018, impaired driving took more than 10,000 lives in the United States — almost 30 of our fellow Americans each day.
  • The influence of alcohol, illicit drugs, and some over the counter and prescription medications diminishes judgment, negatively impacts motor coordination, and decreases reaction time necessary to safely operate a motor vehicle.
  • Innocent drivers, passengers, cyclists, and pedestrians are endangered when impaired individuals get behind the wheel.
  • We support health professionals treating Americans struggling with substance use disorder and faith-based and non-profit organizations that address this critical issue through outreach and support of individuals seeking recovery.
  • Additionally, we are improving data collection and toxicology practices and continuing to provide vital resources to our Nation’s law enforcement officers and public safety professionals, bolstering their efforts to reduce the number of crashes, injuries, and fatalities caused by impaired driving.
  • Driving sober is non-negotiable. We must all commit to confronting this careless behavior, which inflicts unnecessary suffering and senseless loss, stealing the lives of our fellow Americans.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) web page for tribal road safety, motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death for American Indians/Alaska Natives. AI/AN are injured or killed in motor vehicle crashes at much higher rates than other Americans and have the highest alcohol-related motor vehicle death rates of all racial groups.

Therefore, for this year’s National Impaired Driving Prevention Month, DBMHS reaffirms our commitment to preventing tragedies from impaired driving. Through our comprehensive prevention programs and treatment services we are helping to make the responsible decision to drive sober and to refrain from substance use.

For more information about our programs and services, please visit our website at nndbmhs.org or call (928) 871-6877 to schedule an appointment.