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November 11, 2015
by Henry M. Pittman, MA

Oklahoma Tragedy and Driving Under the Influence

November 11, 2015 17:02 by Henry M. Pittman, MA  [About the Author]

Nobody is perfect in this world. Many of us may have experienced going through life and have made a poor decision or two. A person may have put a meal in the oven and put the timer on too long which ended up burning the food. Another poor decision may be ironing one’s clothes, left the iron on the garment to quickly answer the phone in the next room, come back, and one has a permanent iron stain, which is not the current fashion trend. Or a person could be making a meal, does not have one or two of the ingredients that the receipt calls for, continues to prepare and cook the dish, just to end up ordering Chinese takeout. Opportunities for poor decision making are endless. Nonetheless, the aftermath of those decisions we are still to be held accountable for. Some consequences behind poor decision making may go unnoticed, however making the decision to drive under the influence of a substance bears consequences that are very noticeable.

On October 24, 2015, Oklahoma State University was having their annual homecoming parade preparing for a soon to be packed Boone Pickens Stadium when tragedy struck. According to Cullinane & Conlon (2015) at 10:31am Adacia Avery Chambers drove her car into a crowd full of people. Four people were killed which consists of an infant, a 25 year old student, a retired faulty member and his wife. The total number of individuals that were hurt in the accident were 47 (Cullinane & Conlon, 2015). “Stillwater police said Sunday that the car's driver, Adacia Avery Chambers of Stillwater, had been charged with driving under the influence and remained in the city jail (Cullinane & Conlon, 2015).”

In the Diagnostic Statistic Manuel 5th Edition there are eleven behavioral criteria established to identify if a person has a substance use disorder. The behavioral criteria is divided into four categories. The 1st category is control impairment, 2nd social impairment, 3rd self-harm, and 4th pharmacology. Now a person has to meet at least two of the eleven to receive a substance use disorder diagnosis. Self-harm has two criterion: 1) recurrent substance use in situations in which it is physically hazardous, and 2) Substance use is continued despite knowledge of having a persistent or recurrent physical or psychological problem that is likely to have been caused or exacerbated by the substance. The behavior of driving under the influence is putting oneself in harm’s way and even if the person doesn’t’ meet the full criteria for having a substance use disorder, the decision to drive under the influence is a very poor decision. However driving under the influence happens more times than not.

When individuals drives under the influence their initial decision to driving under the influence is not to hurt anybody. They just want to get to where they are going. However, not realizing that they are putting themselves as well as others in danger.  A seemingly irrelevant decision winds up costing a person their license, their vehicle, their life, and/or the life or lives of others. It sounds very disturbing to know that any substance regardless if it is legal or illegal, people make poor decisions to drive under the influence. Are there substances that are more likely to be used while driving under the influence? The answer is yes.

Bogstrand & Gjerde (2014) conducted a study and found that certain substances were related to certain consequences while driving under the influence. For individuals who were arrested due to causing road crashes and/or suspected impairment, demonstrating dangerous driving or a phone call was made by fellow motorist, marijuana was the most prevalent among illicit drugs. For individuals who were arrested due to being involved in an accident and/or suspected impairment, demonstrating dangerous driving or a phone call was made by fellow motorist, amphetamine/methamphetamine was the most prevalent. However, the substance that was the most prevalent among drivers under the influence regardless of illicit or licit were “amphetamine/methamphetamine, alprazolam, clonazepam and oxazepam (Bogstrand & Gjerde, 2014, p. 21).” In other words, prescription medications. Adderall, Ritalin, Concerta are amphetamines. Alprazolam is Xanax. Clonzepam is Klonopin and oxazepam doesn’t have a brand name, just generic. Alprazolam, clonzepam, and oxazepam all belong to a family of drugs called benzodiazepines. Benzodiazepines sedates the central nervous system, which will enable a person to make slower reactions to stimuli. At the time of this article, it has not been present to the public what substance the driver, Adacia Avery Chambers, had in her system.

A very simple decision such as taking a substance and getting behind the wheel is just a dangerous as drinking and driving under the influence. In either manner, a person does not have full function of their mental or physical faculties. Those faculties are highly needed when operating a vehicle. If one choses to use a substance, think of harm reduction and just stay home. Other who are prescribed medications, take them as prescribed. By not following one’s prescription, that is considered prescription abuse. Many times a person never gives thought to what could happen, neither did Adacia Avery Chambers.



Bogstrand, S.T. & Gjerde, H. (2014). Which drugs are associated with highest risk for being arrested for driving under the influence? A case-control study. Forensic Science International. 21–28.

Cullinane, S. & Conlon K. (2015, October 25). Oklahoma state homecoming crash: Many children, infants hurt. CNN. Retrieved from

Sloan, F.A., Lindsey, M.E., & Davis, D. (2014). Addiction, drinking behavior, and driving under the influence. Substance Use & Misuse, 49, 661 – 676.


About the Author

Henry M. Pittman Henry M. Pittman, MA

Henry M. Pittman came into the field of counseling through substance use disorders in the fall of 1997. He was a substance abuse tech at a hospital in Houston, TX and what he saw motivated him to take all the counseling hours needed to become a substance abuse counselor in 1998. Since then he has pursed the required education and knowledge to become a master level counselor and therapist.

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Houston, Texas
United States
Phone: 800-419-2568
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