Drinking is just as common in Paraguay as it is in the US. The difference? Paraguayan private and public organizations haven’t sunk as many millions of dollars into raising public awareness about alcohol safety. The result? People are getting harmed.
You’ll see 15-year-olds get drunk in front of their parents, with beer their mother bought. You’ll see drunks finish their drink and hop on their motorcycle or in their car. Few people talk about the fact that driving is impaired by alcohol consumption, and fewer wear seat belts (ever) or opt out of riding vehicles operated by people under the influence.
You know there’s a reason why you’re not supposed to start drinking too young: it can affect brain development. As for drunk driving—if you’ve ever been sober while riding in a vehicle operated by someone who’s been drinking you already know it’s terrifying. According to one report, Paraguay has one of the highest motorcycle-related mortality rates in the Americas, with a rate of 2.5 deaths per 100,000 from 1998-2010. And according to another report, one of the highest traffic injury-related mortality rates in the Americas.
I get that people just want to have fun. But, do responsibility and fun have to be mutually exclusive? I think not. My quandary: How can I help transmit this message in Paraguay? More difficult still: How can I help encourage behavior change to improve drinking safety?