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Drinking and Walking, A Deadly Combination

Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D. Updated: Dec 14th 2010

Drinking and Walking, A Deadly CombinationAn acquaintance of mine told the horrifying story of a friend with whom she went to a New Years Eve party. Everyone drank a lot and when the friend decided to go home, no one gave it a thought because she was walking home. Whether she tripped and fell, or, passed out from the alcohol is not know except that she was found dead the next day. She froze to death on the street before anyone found her.

Incredibly, it is not only drinking and driving that are dangerous, but drinking and walking are as well according to trauma surgeon Dr. Thomas Esposito at Loyola University Health System in Maywood, Ill.

 A journal called Injury Prevention "reported that New Year's Day is more deadly for pedestrians than any other day of the year. From 1986 to 2002, 410 pedestrians were killed on New Year's Day. Fifty-eight percent of those killed had high blood alcohol concentrations."

Alcohol slows reflexes, damages judgment, and impairs coordination and balance. All of these factors make walking after drinking dangerous at home just as well as outside. At home, people fall on stairs, trip over furniture, get into arguments that sometimes become violent and manage to suffer fractures, burns and other injuries. Recent studies show that residents in nursing and senior residences also suffer severe injuries as a result of drinking and walking. In addition, aging brings about an increase in alcohol consumption for many people with the result that older people who drink are at risk along with those in nursing homes

It is time to raise awareness of this problems. Preventive measures can be taken to avoid injuries and deaths. For example, during the holidays, when many people expect to drink at parties, wear light colored clothes so that drivers can more easily see you when you cross the streets. Remember to cross at corners and not in the middle of the street. Others at a party need to walk people home if they have been drinking, just as drivers leaving a party are driven home. At home, family members need to take care of anyone who is drinking to prevent accidental fractures and head injuries.

Drinking and walking are just as dangerous as drinking and driving. Statistics on hospital admissions and emergency prove this to be accurate. Do not drink and drive and do not drink and walk home. Have a designated walker just as there are designated drivers.

Your comments are encouraged.

Allan N. Schwartz, PhD



Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D.

Readers who live in the Boulder, Colorado metro area, or in Southwest Florida may contact Dr. Schwartz for face-to-face consultation. He is also available for psychotherapy through Skype video for those who are not in Florida or Colorado. He can be reached via email at for details.

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