Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Im MADD as you know what ! For you Jenn






Hello Blog Friends; I am so behind in posting and thanking folks for goodies; and I will get to that in the next post; but first I have to share this with you; I am so tired of reading the paper or watching the news and hearing about the latest victims of jackasses who drive drunk. Usually this blog is a very lighthearted prim blog focused on my exploits in crafting,thrifting and loving my bully babies, but I felt the need to say what is on my mind today.

I get angry each time I hear of the tragedies that these damn moron inflict upon the innocents in our society. Today I am really fired up and if you are delicate, you may not want to read on because I am using impolite language and saying some things that I usually might not.
Today I am talking to all of you because I feel that this is such a serious situation that affects each and every one of us. Every time you or a loved one leaves, there is a chance that they won't return. Yes, there are accidents in life that rob us of those we love and perhaps those can't be avoided, but the menace that I am speaking of is COMPLETELY avoidable and preventable.
We are under attack by big old jackasses that are truly the most selfish, self serving people on the planet. I am not talking about terrorrists (although truthfully they are just that) I am talking about individuals who get drunk or high, then get behind the wheel or a car or on a motorcycle and go out on the highway resulting in death and injury to the motoring public.
Every year, nearly 13,000 people are killed by drunk drivers with an illegal alcohol level of .08 BAC or above. That means that every month more than 1,000 families must live with the tragic consequences of drunk driving*. (*from the MADD website)
Let me tell you a little bit about why I am personally so fired up about this issue. First, I was a victim of a drunk driver. We did not call it that at the time, but this is exactly what it was. I was driving to pick up my sister, I was 16, (married and pregnant at the time) I was two blocks from my mother's home.As I crossed an intersection which was completely devoid of traffic, (it was evening) I was hit in the driver's door of my Chevette at 70 miles per hour (estimated speed) I never had a chance to move out of the way had I seen him in time. The force of the crash sent my car into a tree and the almost into the house on the corner.
The driver that hit me tried to leave, but people had come from their homes and prevented this; he had liquor bottles falling out of the car onto the pavement and was visibly intoxicated according to witnesses. My sister had witnessed this as she began to walk home rather than waiting for a ride. I was very lucky; I was trapped briefly in the car, but I became hysterical and pulled my leg out from under the door and tried to get out of the car fearing that it would catch fire.
Later, I learned that my decision to get gas later, even though the car was almost on fumes saved me from that. (A police officer advised me of that at the hospital) My eye was cut open and had to be sewn up, but that was all that happened to me. I was badly bruised and felt like a train hit me for a while. But I was OK! The policeman that came to the hospital had asked about the DOA from the accident; the doctors said no one came in dead; the policeman was amazed; he said that it was so bad he was sure someone had died. Well, that scared the poop out of me! I was hollerin' here I am I am okay!!! More for myself than anyone else! LOL!
Life went on; the irony was that my idiot insurance company paid for the drunk's damages! They said it was my fault for driving out in front of him!!! I had the yield sign so I was at fault. I could not believe it. The police said there was no way you could know that this jackass was coming at that rate of speed!
Life went on.
I want you all to know that my life from age nine on was spent in the company of alcoholics. My mother started drinking when I was nine; she divorced my father and cultivated a whole crowd of alcoholics to play with. She married one who was abusive as well. Alcohol and drunk driving was a daily occurance at my home.
When I was probably thirteen, I began to try to keep my mother from killing people by driving drunk;( mainly herself) I did not know about alcoholism then, or drunk driving. In the seventies, there was no such thing as far as I am aware. The cops would yell at you and drive you home or if you were abusive, they would toss you in the drunk tank. That's all I knew. I taught myself to drive. I would walk to the bar and drive her home. So began my trying to keep the drunks off the roads.
My mother's whole life revolved around liquor. She could not see past the bottle. She was so self destructive as most alcoholics are. I was nine when she began to drink. I was eighteen when she died from cirrhosis caused by alcoholism. I got married at 16 to escape the craziness; I married a non drinker; my mother had me, at one time, engaged to a raging alcoholic because he would help her maintain her addiction!
So when I tell you all I know what is what with this you will know I mean it. I finally at age 34, finished my college degree. In Addictions Counseling. Once again, trying to keep the world healthy and safe for others.
Here is what I learned over ten years; I worked as a counselor/therapist in a few community mental health centers, a prison halfway house,a prison for men, in a HIV/AIDS care coordination center,a rehab for adolescents and women with children who are addicts. Most of the clients did not want help; most were unconcerned with the effects of their use on society. A large percentage, even those in prison could not be convinced that drinking and driving was in any way wrong and most were repeat DUI offenders in addition to other charges. I have had clients blame their victims for God's sake. I have had mothers who were pregnant use alcohol,crack,methamphetamines and damn near anything else they could get their hands on during their pregnancies! And argue that "all my other kids was okay and I used with them" I have seen crack addicted babies born with HIV! I have seen people continue to drink right up to their dying days. They say it is a disease. I say maybe so, but there is a way to end it. You have to want it. I have seen recovery, a few times,; it involves those who know they made a mistake; are willing to admit it; admit they are not able to use anything safely and are willing to do whatever it takes to be well. They are as committed to their recovering from the addiction as they were to getting and using their drug of choice in the first place. Most did this through AA or NA; a few needed medical and psychiatric interventions, but were willing to do as directed.
Back to the drunk driving issue; I also consider driving while under the influence of ANY chemical drunk driving (impaired driving)
There are so many stories out there; you know as many as I do I'm sure. This goes across all lines;both genders ,all religions,income levels,educational levels. When they kill or maim; the damn courts slap them on the hand and say "now don't do it again" Guess what, yup, they do it again and again. It is such bullshit! The courts and defense attorneys say "it was an accident"
Here's my take on that; you go to a bar; you sit and drink for eight hours; you take your ass back out to that car, turn the key and drive out on to a street. unable to control that big chunk of steel you drive over someone's family and kill them.
Different scenario; you go to the bar and drink for eight hours; go outside and start firing at passing cars with your gun; killing someone's family.
When you walked into that bar; and did not make allowances for your transport home, to me you were already froming the intent to harm someone. That is no accident. After you start drinking your ass does not care how or if you get home; the drug takes over, that is right; alcohol is classified as a drug. In scenario one; you will probably get probation and a bunch of fines,community service and have to go to outpatient rehab. ( and we taxpayers will be paying for that rehab; ask me how I know! and if I thought it would work I would happily pay it) In the second scenario ; well; that was not an accident they will say! Well shit; neither is aiming a car you can't control down a highway you can't see.
If you want to drink yourself silly; go right ahead! That's right I said go right ahead. But keep your ass out of the car and off the damn streets! Stay Home!
I ride a motorcycle; I do it for fun. I NEVER drink anything and ride other than Diet Coke! If I feel badly, I don't ride. You can get your ass killed way fast on a bike by a very small mistake, but you could harm someone else too in the bargain.
In my truck Sparkle; I am more protected; I have airbags that surround the entire passenger cabin as well as the steering wheel. I am still careful when I drive. I take it seriously that I could affect someone's life wioth my actions. I feel responsible for those around me. I have to remain aware of my abilities to pilot my bike and my truck safely down the road. And yes, I do drink on occasion. If I have a drink when we are out, my husband drives. If he has a drink, then I do not and I drive. We usually have Diet Coke and Iced Teas. We are not real big on drinking, we do have wine with dinner at home on occasion and a beer once in a while, but I cook with wine more than I ever drink it. I think that we know the results of playing with alcohol and are cautious.
Yesterday, there was a story on our local news that got me riled up again
http://www.wnem.com/video/17544593/ about an unborn child killed by a DUI driver. Please check out the link for more information. The mother is still in the hospital ; she has very serious injuries. The station WNEM said that they will put up a websire her family is building to help them along; when they do I will post it here.
The mother is a nursing student who is 21 years old and was eight months pregnant. This was caused by an 18 year old! Well, how's that for evidence that lowering the drinking age is stupid? I have treated PLENTY of kids whose idiot parents allowed them to begin drinking as early as 14/15 because" At least I know where they are and can keep them from getting into trouble out there" ( They used the same argument for sex, and many got pregnant and developed sexually transmitted diseases out of the same skewed logic) What ever happened to parents who say NO!!! And mean it; parents that don't want to be FRIENDS with their kids? Guess how many of these kids had major addictions by the time they were 18? I used to tell them just because it is legal it don't make it good for you!
And to my other reason for getting my dander up again; My friend Jenn was in a serious car crash caused by a dumb ass drunk; she has endured a restriction in her ability to move about freely and I don't know how many surgeries. Not to mention pain. She is a mother of three; she did not deserve the sentence that she got; she has developed a new problem causing her to have to speed up the date of her surgery and I am so angry on her behalf! She is a great blog friend and I wish I could figure out some way to help her heal. I am sure the damn drunk is out and about having a fine time. Jenn's whole life has been impacted all because a jackass went out and got drunk and tried to drive himself home. There are so many stories I know about this issue. But for now, can you all put a ribbon on your blog; pass it on that this is a national issue and warn those you know and love about the dangers on the road. It's not just drunks, its also people who are impaired in any way; on prescription meds; sleep deprived, high on drugs (illicit).
Jenn, I have come to love you as the sister I wish I had; so creative, loving and full of light. A good mom, a good friend, a fighter! My prim sister I want the best for you and I hope that you will be spared any more pain after your surgery. I'll be here if you need me! Y'all get MADD too;
I hope you all think about this; the holiday season is coming; but I want you to know that they are out there everyday; all day; As Judge Judy says; "It is not an accident, its an on purpose"
Added later today; I want to also tell everyone that you don't have to be an addict or an alcoholic to be an impaired driver! It could be the very first time that you drink at a party, maybe underestimate your consumption ( they say that a normal body processes alcohol at the rate of ONE drink per hour, one drink is not a 40 oz can either!) alcohol is tricky and makes you feel that you have not "really drank all that much" Regardless; do you really need to take the chance? Call a cab, plan beforehand to have a designated driver if you want to drink, sleep at your friend's home in the event of a party, stay at the hotel,take public transportation!
Fun does not come in a bottle.
The aftermath is not good even if you don't wind up herting someone else; here's what my old clients told me; the costs of driving drunk ( without causing any damage to anyone else)
Legal Fees for DUI: $ 7-10,000 ( yes ten thousand dollars!)
Court Fees: $2500-$5000
Probation Fees; wide range, but at least $1000.00
Your License will usually be lost for some period of time; out here we have NO public transportation to speak of; so you could lose your job.
You may do some jail time; our system in the Thumb charges a daily rate; just like a hotel; I have been to the jail to teach group; it ain't no Hilton! YUK!
License Reinstatement Fees; vary, but hey, they will get their money!
Oh yeah, your car insurance is going up WAY UP!
Now, if you continue to do this; the costs will go up further; you may receive a felony charge which will keep you from certain jobs. And God help you if you harm someone; but I still feel that this is not enough. How do you quantify the harm that is done to a family that has lost their mother? Or to the family whose income was cut in half because one parent or the other was injured and cannot work?
We seem to value human life so very little. Think about it, the next victim could be you or a loved one. My friend Cara was AT HOME sleeping in her home with her husband and young child when her home was hit by a drunk driver; luckily no one was harmed. Her porch was demolished and she was left to bear the costs for much if not all of it! I have had clients involved in drunk driving who harmed and killed others; one was a teen who killed her friends; this kid did not even care; she received little time in juvenile hall, her probation officer appeared to cater to her; as did the home she was placed in. I have never seen such a lack of regard for others; her parents blamed the other girls! This kid had the nerve to say that since this had happened a few months prior, everyone should get over it! You know, this was one of the things that began to build to cause me to walk away from this field! When you see that at such a young age where are you gonna go with that? If I hear "its only alcohol or its only weed" one more time in my life I will go crazy!
So many of these folks do a little time, give up some money and then go on with their lives. I keep thinking of the ones left in the cemetary by their loved ones; when do they get to come back and get on with their lives? When do their loved ones get to be happy again? How do you replace what is stolen from these people? When these jackasses go to jail, their families can visit them and rail about how unfair the system is ( I have heard it believe me!) Meanwhile, the victims lie in a plot of earth, under a cold cement stone; their families visit them too; but there is no conversation with the dead. They can't hug or talk to you; they will never be returned to those who grieve for them. I always wonder, was this the person who may have had the cure to cancer within their brain? Was the deceased the one who could effect peace? So much potential lost due to the carelessness of others. For all those whose lives were impacted and some ended due to this rampant stupidity; I am sorry, and I will keep fighting about it in some way forever.
One last thing; if you or someone you know has a problem with alcohol or drugs; get help; there is plenty out there; AA (Alcoholics Anonymous)and NA(Narcotics Anonymous) are FREE! There are meetings going on in every town; there are websites that will help you locate a meeting; they are also listed in phone books.
If you need any other help; check with your local community mental health center. There is treatment available. If you can't find what you need email me or leave me a comment; I'll try to help you find help. The life you save could be someone you love. Thanks!

12 comments:

Jenn said...

Awww Merrie my sweet friend, Im crying! As I was reading along I was MAD, SAD and GLAD for this post! Im so sorry to read all youve been thru. Alcohol and alcoholism affects so many of us in so many different ways, its a terrible terrible thing! Thank YOU for getting MADD, Ive certainly been trying for almost 2 years. And thank YOU for posting such a personal story. I love ya my friend:)

Shanda said...

I agree Merrie, drunk driving is so crazy. People should be punished severly. I think teenagers should have to go into hospitals and see victims hooked up top life support and give them a scare and something to think about.
The stascics prove that we, as Americans, kill more people each year on our highways by driving drunk than the war on terriost has claimed. That is something to think about. This has got to be stopped. Please keep your drunk driving message going. And if your not busy in Oct maybe you and hubby coukld take a bike trip and come to my fall fest.
Shanda

cynthialeedesigns said...

Merrie,
I so agree with you on the issues of drunk driving and of people who live for alcohol.
My father-in-law had a drunk driver run a stop-sign and my father-in-law couldn't stop fast enough, so he ended up hitting him. (It was 8am in the morning.) The drunk driver was not wearing a seatbelt and was threwn from his car and died. For the longest time, my father-in-law had a hard time dealing with this as he felt like it was his fault, that he had killed someone. When clearly this was not his fault!!

And my sister's ex-husband drank all the time. To my knowledge, he never cause any accidents but he was very mean when he drank. He actually pushed my sister through their living room window and was so drunk that he couldn't remember doing it. That was the day she left him! I'm happy to say that he did get his act together, learned from what he did, does not drink any more and is sorry about what he did to my sister. He is a good father and grandfather to their kids and grandchildren. But it took him doing this terrible thing to my sister to realize he needed help...and thank goodness it didn't kill her when she went through the window.
I'm so sorry to hear what you went through also...And it does help sometimes to vent.
Hugs, Cindy

Winterwood said...

we have the very same probs here too. I have been tea total all my life as alcohol makes me v ill...and really I am glad for this in the way that its never affected my life in a bad way, as maybe it may have if I had drunk more with freinds at parties etc. Drink, and the probs associated with it are huge over here with young adults and its so sad as it causes so much damage in accidents to really innocent people who then suffer as your friend is. I wish I had some solutions - I guess we all do.

Dont stop venting though, it may help someone to think twice before they drink some.

thanks for the lovely hello on my blog!!

AnnaSam said...

Merrie,
Thanks for visiting me and adding me to your faves. I totally spport you in this blog. Thank-you for speaking out in what you believe in. I too was raised around alcoholics. My father passed away at the age of 38 leaving 6 chikldren behind,me being the youngest at the age of 6. I seen all the fights the "happy drunks".Having to go to bars to pick up a sibling of mine who couldn't even sit up on the bar stool.This disease affects not just the alcholic but the people that surround them.I have 3 older brothers who were all alcholics. The oldest died at the age of 50.The 2nd oldest quit drinking about 25 years ago and the 3rd just quit about 4 years ago after having so much physical problems from drinking. The dr. told him if he didn't quit now it would kill him.So I've been there. Thanks again for reminding everyone of this terrible disease. Have a blessed day.

This Country Girl said...

Merrie,

I had tears in my eyes as I read all this! I can't imagine losing a family member or friend in an accident caused by a drunk driver. We don't drink, and that's what I've taught my kids (I know not all agree), because if a person acts responsibly drinking, they would be setting the example for others to do so....and these people might have no self-control or be responsible in any way. I think the word NO needs to be taught much more than it is. I know that doesn't mean they'll always do it because it's their choice when mom and dad's not there, but I think if it was taught more, we would have less of this at any age.

I did lose a fellow school mate back when we graduated. The night after graduation, two seniors were out.....were hit by a drunk driver and one of them was killed and the other was not. The one that was not has had a really hard time all these years from what I was told.

I do see where this is a passionate subject with you and so it should be! It's my prayer that folks will heed these words and act responsibly (if they're going to drink), or just not drink. I also pray protection over my family everyday on ther roads too!

Thanks for sharing, Merrie.

Tammy

Jane's Fabrics and Quilts said...

Oh Merrie, This is why I love you, my friend! Look at what you did with your life and how you have helped so many people. I will grab your ribbon and put it on the sidebar of my blog. My husband and I do not drink, we do not like the taste, and to this day I always ask my girls if the go out who is the designator driver. they always have one, thank God. thank you for sharing such a personal part of your life, I am sure it will help many. love ya, Jane

Merrie. said...

thanks for all your kind words; This is a subject that affects families as well; you all are right; I have seen families at the end of their ropes and so frustrated by the system and the unknown. There are groups for the family members like Al-Anon, Alateen; but a lot of folks do not know about them. It is something that exists at every level of society. We can all inform others through our blogs and through interactions with others. I am so glad to know that I am a friend to such people like you all! Thank you for your support!

oodlekadoodle said...

You know it isn't just the drunks that should't drive, but also people that are on some medications....When I take some of my meds I am afarid to drive as I never know when it will make me to dizzy to operate the car...I think about all the people and their meds they are taking and still driving...I am sure there are lots of accidents that happen because of it and it isn't just the deaths, it is the ones that are injured and have their lives changed forever....Thanks for advocating for MADD and our 4 legged friends..
Hugs
Sue

Back in the Day said...

Merrie,
I agree 100% with your outrage at drunk driving! It is unexcusable and we as a society must put a stop to it!

carolyn at cranberry crossings: said...

I have to agree with everything you said!
When Jenn was in that accident, our little group of friends were horrified and terrified for her! She has suffered so much because of this drunk idiot!
Drunk driving has become an epidemic, and this country needs to do something about this problem.

alcoholism treatment said...

People who drive when they are drunk, should undergo treatment in a rehab center. They are very irresponsible because drunk driving can certainly cause accidents, and the innocent people suffer from their carelessness.


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