Impairment is defined as any use that affects the mind or the body.  So if a person has used enough of a substance where they feel more than relaxed, they are impaired.  In the case of alcohol, impairment occurs with a lot less than people think.  By the time a person is intoxicated, they are very impaired.

Another way to look at impairment is its definition:  a 5% change in reaction time.  So if it normally takes a person one second to react to a situation and now it takes 1.05 seconds, he/she is impaired.  Typically people consider alcohol or drugs the culprits.  But even prescription drugs or over-the-counter medications can cause a person to respond more slowly and not act quickly enough in certain situations.

Sieda Behavioral Health and Treatment Services staff want you to be aware of these risks. Even though Iowa’s legal limit for driving it .08 BAC (Blood Alcohol Content), that doesn’t mean a person has to be at that level to be impaired.  Impairment in reaction time and tracking and steering can begin as low as .03 BAC.  By the time a person reaches .08 BAC, coordination, information processing, concentrated attention, and speed control are all affected.

If you recognize this risky behavior in yourself or are concerned about someone you know, call Sieda Behavioral Health and Treatment Services at 641-683-6747.

Information from:

Ilene Johnson, Prevention Specialist with  Sieda Community Action Behavioral Health & Treatment Services