MILWAUKEE -- The statistics are staggering. According to one local agency, Wisconsin deals with more issues related to drinking than nearly any other state -- and it's not just drinking and driving. "IMPACT" wants to change that and they're starting by changing the conversation through their 'risky drinking initiative.'
A night out, a reason to celebrate -- it starts off innocently enough...
"One drink often leads to another one and that often leads to an OWI," said Adrian Jones, AODA Consultant for IMPACT.
In Wisconsin, it happens more often than you might think.
"Unfortunately Wisconsin has one of the higher rates of drunk driving per capita," said Jones.
According to consultants at IMPACT, an organization in southeastern Wisconsin that helps connect people with drinking and drug issues to the resources they need. They're on track to provide 4,200 assessments to people convicted of drunk driving this year. And that's just those who chose counseling over an education program -- and just in Milwaukee County.
"We should be shocked by that number. Other states, larger states, New York, California more popular states, they don't get the rates of OWI's that Wisconsin does," said Jones.
One of the ways IMPACT tries to lower that number is to increase the level of education, specifically through their relatively new initiative -- the 'risky drinking' campaign.
"We see first hand every day what the result and the outcome is of people who are not alcoholics but are still drinking in a way that creates risks and consequences for them," said John Hyatt, IMPACT.
Risks and consequences that affect their safety, health, work and even home life.
"Ordinarily I would've let it go, I wouldn't have picked a fight with my spouse, I wouldn't have confronted a guy at the bar who I thought was spending too much time looking at my wife or my date, and all of a sudden I'm in a fight and I'm in an argument, I'm in a stabbing, I'm in a shooting," said Hyatt.
Part of the reason these situations occur so often, Hyatt believes, is the culture we're a part of in this state.
"You're out at State Fair and you've had four or five drinks and some people think, well I'm just getting a little buzz going I'm okay, it's what we do. Look around, everyone else is doing the same thing and then that's when those bad things start to happen," said Hyatt.
And four or five drinks, as the program's guidelines show, can be too many.
On average, men aren't suggested to have more than four drinks in a day -- women three. One drink being 12-ounces of beer, 5-ounces of wine, or 1.5-ounces of 80-proof liquor.
"The stop drinking so much campaign isn't stop drinking, it's stop drinking so much," said Hyatt.
And it could be the catalyst that lowers the numbers in other areas -- like drinking and driving.
"I always talk about that little voice in a persons head when you've had more to drink than you should. That voice goes away or gets really quiet and so people end up doing a lot of things that most people would say are dumb, are stupid, are not very smart. Drinking and driving is just one of those things," said Hyatt.
For those that get convicted of drinking and driving and choose the IMPACT route, the organization has an 83% success rate -- meaning 83% of their clients do not re-offend.