Mardi Gras in New Orleans is a time when having fun takes center stage. During this season, hundreds of people loosen tight work schedules to don masks and parade, dance, drink and use drugs as they participate in the various events. Statistically, between Christmas and Mardi Gras, admissions to treatment centers are also shown to be significantly reduced. People in rehab programs that are trying to recover from drug and alcohol addiction often relapse. The danger, according to one treatment therapist is that, during Mardi Gras, relapse triggers are everywhere. Since it is a seasonal event rather than just one day, old thought patterns and temptations are more likely return. If you’re sober in New Orleans for Mardi Gras, there are other ways to enjoy the festivities that don’t involve drinking or doing drugs.
The fact is carnival time is exciting and people struggling with addiction still want to enjoy the festivities. As such the a drug and alcohol-free zone has been introduced by the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Council (ADAC) to be an alternative to total immersion in the typical Mardi Gras events. The ADAC was founded by a group of concerned citizens throughout the community and is affiliated with the National Council of Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, The United Way for South Louisiana, Louisiana Association for Non-Profit Organizations, The Prevention Partnership Coalition, Mothers Against Drunk Drivers and the Red Ribbon Committee for the South Louisiana area. People of all ages can find alternatives to the typical carnival temptations and addiction triggers in the Mardi Gras alcohol, tobacco and drug Free Zone. Carnival attendants can watch the parades, participate in games and find entertainment at no cost in a safer environment. If you’re sober in New Orleans for Mardi Gras, here are other things you can do:
While it is easy to get caught up in the Mardi Gras culture, it is also possible to find other activities that will not threaten your sobriety during this time. New Orleans is a city full of history and culture, and offers visitors entertainment and venues beyond drinking and partying. Some of these attractions include urban kayaking, which enables tourists to paddle through various local neighborhoods, there are unlimited restaurants, tours of the historic trail, the French Quarter, the Spanish Custom House and the Pitot House, as well as an array of city parks to visit.
Unfortunately, Mardi Gras is a time when people suspend their sobriety goals. According to the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission (LHSC), the 2015 Mardi Gras season turned out to be the most dangerous holiday on Louisiana highways. As such, warnings about drinking and driving are especially common during this time. In the last two years, studies show at least 120 serious crashes that involve major injuries or fatalities occur every day during Mardi Gras celebrations. More than half of these crashes involved alcohol, according to Lt. Col. John LeBlanc, Executive Director of the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission. He also commented that because it is naïve to expect people to not drink during Mardi Gras, there has been an increase in public enforcement information and a step up of outreach programs to help reduce substance abuse and drunk driving during this holiday. As such, the LHSC has joined forces to work with the National Highway Transportation, Safety Administration, Driver Sober campaigns, as well as local and state police in order to curb drunk driving that occurs during the five days of Mardi Gras.
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