The following is a hypothetical situation that probably happens often in a corporate setting, in a sales or marketing division after they’ve hit their revenue numbers. Management is thrilled. Workabees are ecstatic. Time to celebrate and tie one on. Then there’s that awkward pause. Coworkers eye one another. “Who’s it gonna be? Who’s our DD”?

The designated driver (DD) is the person in a group of people who either readily volunteers or is selected by others as the person who will be the ‘safe mode of transport’. If there isn’t a sober one in the bunch, there might be a problem. Moreover, if each person has a different idea about what a true “DD” is, the varied opinions could compromise everyone.

Designated Driver in Theory Is Well Intended

Originating in Scandinavia in the 1970s as a program for Canadian Club Whiskey, DD received mixed reviews. While the philosophy behind it was sound, the mechanics of it in practice often fell on deaf ears.

Optimal use is when a designated driver is assigned before the drinking starts. But it doesn’t always work out that way. On the flip side, when the designation happens isn’t the worst scenario. Should the designated driver not really want to stay sober or if the DD believes that drinking less than their normal is good enough to provide safe travel compared to everyone else’s intake, this is where the problems begin. The point of having a designated driver is that one person remains of sound mind and body to help make decision-making for the group.

Uber and Lyft Joined the Party and Made MADD, Happy

Once the concept of a DD caught on across the United States, MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) took it and ran, somewhat claiming it as their own. Taking the DD process one step further to mirror urbanite behaviors, they partnered with rideshare companies Uber and Lyft to raise money for their nonprofit. Through $1.00 donations per ride, during specific holidays and prime time alcohol consumption hours, designated driving took on a new twist to help an oversaturated problem.

One Fatal Flaw of Designated Drivers Perpetuates Addictive Behavior

Even when there is a designated driver who abides by the intention of the title and maintains sobriety throughout the social engagement until each person in the group arrives to their end destination safely, the DD does not hamper the alcohol intake of everyone else. While many who live with substance abuse find comfort in socializing with like-minded individuals, some seek out sober partners. But don’t mistake that as a cry for help. The attraction is purely strategic.

Designated Drivers Are Very Attractive to Addicts

DD can enable addictionIf you’re the local do-gooder or want to get personal accolades from your wild bunch of friends or fearless, successful coworkers, being the go-to DD might seem like a good idea. It is – if it’s once in a while.

On a personal note, I’ve been sought after by a couple of different men, both alcoholics. We were friends and I didn’t think our way of life was a good match. Strangely enough, each of these men had similar conversations with me. They’d offer up a fun idea for an evening, heading out to a great restaurant or over-the-top social gathering with one caveat: I was to be the designated driver. When I laughed and asked, “Why do you think we’d be good together… we’re couldn’t be more polar opposites?” the response was the same. “Exactly. I can drink. You can drive. It’s perfect!”

Yeah, those relationships went nowhere. (smile) But I know of people who were manipulated into those scenarios over and over. If their friend or spouse had a problem, the DD would accompany them to their favorite bar or to the party and either idling sit by and watch them use. When it was time to leave, the drive home was stressful for the DD, not so much for the one who passed out. Each time this happens, it’s a missed opportunity for the designated driver to say “No” and stop the cycle of abuse.

The presence of a designated driver does little to stop the overconsumption in others. A lengthy study conducted in Australia measured the perception of participants who planned on drinking and if there was any difference in the amount they consumed once knowing a DD would be there.

The difference between you as a DD and a driver from Uber, Lyft or the closest limousine company is that you provide the service for free. And there’s nothing loving about getting a text at 1:23 a.m. by your better half wanting you to pick them up from wherever they wandered off to, now in a drunken stupor. It’s like getting a booty call without the temporary benefit. Crude, but true.

If you’re the designated drivers often enable alcoholics or drug addiction in those they care about. The best approach to take for all involved is to respectfully and gracefully decline the request.

Know When to Say No to Being the DD

Talk to Someone Who’s Been There. Talk to Someone Who Can Help. Scottsdale Recovery Center holds the highest accreditation (Joint Commission) and is Arizona’s premier rehab facility since 2007.  Call  1-888-NODRUGS

Melanie SternAuthored by Melanie Stern, Content Director for Scottsdale Recovery Center, Arizona Addiction Recovery Centers and Cohn Media, LLC. Writer and broadcaster covering the following industries: addiction rehab, health care, entertainment, technology and advocate of clear communication, positivity and humanity at its best.

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