Discussing alcohol and other drugs (AOD) is always controversial. Rarely does any one speak on the subject unless they are advocating a particular bias, either pro or against. Also people tend to generalize from their own experience and experiences with AOD vary from positive to very negative. There are some real issues related to the safe use of AOD:
- Some AOD are addictive, and people find it very difficult to use these in moderation. Crack, cocaine, nicotine, heroin and speed are good examples.
- Some people are prone to alcohol addiction and find it hard to use any AOD in moderation. Many alcoholics are in this category
- Some drugs are inherently toxic so that a bit more than the normal dose can kill you. Heroin is the best example but alcohol is similar.
- Some drugs can cause bad reactions among some people even in small doses. LSD is in this category.
- Illegal drugs may contain dangerous impurities, may vary greatly in dosage, or may not be the drug that you think you are buying. LSD is sometimes sold as ecstasy.
- Illegal drugs are illegal. Legal problems can really mess up your life and a strong argument can be made for obeying the laws.
- The long-term effect of some drugs is not well understood. Ecstasy is in this category.
- AOD affects your judgment. Under the influence, you may make decisions that you may later regret. Alcohol is one drug that can really get you into trouble this way. Aggression or sexual behavior is often affected by alcohol consumption.
- AOD affects your physical coordination. This, coupled with bad judgment, leads to a lot of accidents.
- If you use drugs on a regular basis (even if you are not addicted) your use may alter your psychological, social and intellectual development in long-term or irreversible ways. An example is the college student who smokes marijuana regularly doesn’t learn to socialize without being high. In addition, these students academic performance level tends to be lower.
Following are brief facts about alcohol use.
Alcohol is a depressant. A depressant slows down or depresses your central nervous system. At first you may perceive that alcohol makes you feel good. Many people say they enjoy the initial buzz they get after drinking. But alcohol doesn’t follow the rule “the more you drink the better you feel”. After a certain point, the relaxed or buzzed feeling is replaced with depression, anger, loss of control and drowsiness.
Alcohol lowers the ability of the brain to control behavior and judgment after the first drink. Alcohol impairs your ability to perform motor skills, move or speak effectively. In non-excessive amounts, alcohol can also cause digestive problems, tremors, impaired sexual response and injuries due to loss of coordination. It weakens your defenses, lessens your ability to make safe/smart decisions about sex partners and activities. Mixing alcohol with sex increases your chances of unplanned pregnancies, and sexually transmitted infections including HIV. It can also set the stage for date rape. Among college age students, alcohol is responsible for 75% of all violent behavior, 90% of all rapes, 50% of all physical injuries, one-thirds of all emotional difficulties, 66% of suicides and 30% of all academic problems. With habitual and excessive use, alcohol can cause permanent memory loss, liver and kidney damage, and even death.
Moderate drinking can reduce the risks of alcohol related problems. A guide to moderate drinking is relatively easy.
First, the use of alcohol is a personal choice. No one should feel pressured or expected to drink. Alcohol is not essential for enjoying social events. As you make your choice to use alcohol, you should also know when alcohol consumption should be avoided:
- Under the legal age of 21
- When recovering from chemical dependency
- When behind the wheel of a car
- When you’re extremely stressed or tired
- When taking certain medications
- While pregnant
Secondly, you should drink no more than one standard drink per hour. A standard drink is equivalent to one 12 oz. beer, a 4 oz. glass of wine or a 1 oz. shot of hard liquor. This is the amount of alcohol the average person can metabolize in about one hour. It is important to know that most mixed drinks, coolers, and some ales or lagers may contain up to twice the average amount of alcohol or more.
Thirdly, you should not exceed more than 2-3 drinks per day and drink no more than 4 days per week. Because of the differences in body composition and chemistry, women experience problems after consuming less alcohol than men. So the recommendation for women is no more than 1-2 drinks per day.
A Social Drinker:
- Drinks slowly (no guzzling/gulping)
- Knows when to stop
- Eats before or while drinking
- Never drives after drinking
- Respects non-drinkers
- Knows and obeys laws related to drinking
- Drinks to get drunk
- Tries to solve problems with drinking
- Experiences changes in personality:
- loud, angry or violent OR
- silent remote or reclusive
- Causes other problems – harm to self
- Spends a lot of time thinking about drinking
- Starts drinking without conscious planning and loses awareness of the amount of alcohol consumed
- Denies drinking
- Drinks alone
- May have “blackouts” cannot remember what s/he did while drinking
- Has or causes major problems with the police, family, friends or employer
Minor in possession (Section 2566 Business and Professions Code):
It is against the law for anyone under 21 years of age to drink, possess or purchase alcoholic beverages.
- You will receive a citation requiring a mandatory court appearance.
- Driving privileges will be suspended for up to one year.
- Upon conviction, District Attorney’s Office may allow first time offenders to plead a second charge of open container of alcohol. Defendant will then complete a ten- hour “Young Adult Pre-DUI Program” and pay for class charges and fine. Original charge will be maintained by courts and related offenses before the age of 21 will activate the original charge of 25662 B/P, including all fines and penalties.
- Arrested, handcuffed and taken to local police station; detained until identification is established.
- Possible booking into county jail. Same legal sanctions by court as above.
- Courts must suspend or delay driver’s license of persons 13-21 years old who commit offenses relating to purchasing alcohol and driving with alcohol in the car. Driver’s license can be confiscated at the time of offense if consumption has occurred.
Open container (Section 36-3 Santa Barbara County Ordinance):
It is against the law to possess alcohol in public places.
- $200-$550 fine. Average fine $200, but progressive per offense.
- If under the age of 21, mandatory court appearance and license suspension.
- Ordinance does not apply to some State beaches and parks.
- In 1993, the Isla Vista Parks and Recreation voted to enact a ban of alcohol in parks in Isla Vista.
Public intoxication (Section 647(f) Penal Code):
Public intoxication is the inability to care for the safety of self or others.
- Booked into County Jail for a minimum of 6 hours.
- If under the age of 21, mandatory court appearance and license suspension.
Driving under the influence (Section 32152(a) & (b) Vehicle Code):
If you are over 21 and have a blood alcohol level (BAC) of 0.08 or higher you will be arrested for driving under the influence (DUI).
- Immediate 30 day suspension of drivers license on the spot by arresting officer.
- Jail time ( night of arrest + 48 additional consecutive hours; 3 days in jail with BAC of 1.5; 4 days in jail with BAC of 2.0 or greater)
- Car immediately towed and stored at your expense.
- Upon conviction, loss of license for one year, court probation for three years and part of your driving for seven years. Breaking probation will result in ten days in jail.
- $1300 fine plus booking fee of $129, court costs and attorney fees. Up to triple increase in car insurance.
- Mandatory attendance of a alcohol information school; 14 weeks at the cost of approximately $300.
- Courts are now required to impose an additional 60 day continuous jail term if convicted of driving under the influence if person was also driving recklessly, or exceeded the speed limit by 30 mph.
Under the age of 21 - Driving under the influence (Section 23139 (a) Vehicle Code):
Zero Tolerance. A blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.01 or greater (any alcohol) is illegal.
- A mandatory minimum one year license suspension. Refusal of test also warrants an automatic one year license suspension.
- Car is immediately towed and stored at your expense.
- Punishment upon conviction similar to that of DUI explained above.
Causing injury while driving under the influence (Section 23153 Vehicle Code):
If anyone is injured or killed as a result of driving under the influence it can become a felony charge.
- May go to state prison plus all the penalties of the DUI as listed above. If fatality is involved, the charge of manslaughter may be applied.
Bicycling under the influence (Section 21200.5 Vehicle Code):
Yes, you can be arrested for riding your bike under the influence if your Blood Alcohol Content is greater than 0.08. This is strongly enforced in Isla Vista.
- One night in jail.
- $250 fine plus $120 booking fee.
- If under 21 years of age, loss of driver’s license for one year.
Serving drinks to minors (272 Penal Code and 25662 Business and Profession Code):
Anyone who serves drinks to minors is breaking the law.
- A fine can be imposed in both private and public circumstances.
- A drinking establishment may have their business liquor license suspended.
The following agencies are available for support, information or referral for you or someone you know who needs help with substance abuse.
Alcohol & Drug Information and Referral Centers
Santa Barbara. Phone: (805) 962-6195
Santa Barbara. Phone: (805) 682-6667
Casa Serena (women) Narcotics Anonymous
Santa Barbara. Phone: (805) 966-1260
Santa Barbara. Phone: (805) 569-1288
Cocaine Anonymous New House II
Santa Barbara. Phone: (805) 969-5178
Santa Barbara. Phone: (805) 962-8248
Codependents Anonymous New House III
Santa Barbara. Phone: (805) 966-2665
Santa Barbara. Phone: (805)563-6050
Community Resources Information Project Recovery Services 24-hour Helpline
Santa Barbara. Phone: (805) 564-6057
Santa Barbara. Phone: (805) 692-4011
Santa Maria. Phone: (805) 928-5815 Recovery Point
Santa Ynez. Phone: (805) 688-1905
Santa Maria. Phone: (805) 928-6242
Lompoc. Phone: (805) 734-2711
Santa Barbara Council on Alcoholism Cottage Care Center & Drug Use
Santa Barbara. Phone: (805) 682-2511
Santa Barbara. Phone: (805) 963-1433
Santa Maria. Phone: (805) 928-0993
Dyslexia Awareness & Resource Center and Attention Deficit Disorder Women's Shelter
Santa Barbara. Phone: (805) 963-7339
Santa Barbara. Phone: (805) 964-5245