I first learned about the issues that can arise with the over-consumption of alcohol in a freshmen seminar in college. Before that, I had no formal introduction or training on the negative consequences that can result from drinking and driving. Driving Under the Influence (DUI) and Driving While Impaired (DWI) are increasingly becoming a national issue. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), “Every day, almost 30 people in the United States die in drunk-driving crashes — that’s one person every 48 minutes in 2017.”1 People who are proven guilty of DUI/DWI can then end up in treatment courts.
Treatment courts take a rehabilitative approach and connect participants with resources which lead to sobriety. Treatment courts are a sensible solution because they provide beneficial services that aid individuals and communities and are also cost effective in the long run.
Treatment courts help to humanize its participants and allocate the second chance that everyone deserves. Other ways to distribute second chances to those who have been charged with DUI/DWIs include:
- Support groups as a rehabilitation method. Support groups allow for people to comfortably share their experiences and learn from others. The end goal of support groups will be to lead people into a life of recovery and maintaining sobriety.
- Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) is another effective treatment modality. CBT provides “educational classes and process groups [that] focus on the effects of alcohol and other drugs; nature of addiction to alcohol and drugs; impairment of driving abilities, skills, and judgment caused by consumption of alcohol or drugs.”2 This method is one that helps participants develop skills for self-improvement and awareness about their mistake. “CBT targets an individual’s skills deficit by increasing his/her ability to cope with high risk situations.”3 CBT allows people to identify unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as the over consumption of alcohol. Individuals are then able to develop healthier alternatives for coping.
- Rehabilitation facilities in the US offer affordable payment plans. Many offer plans tailored to individual needs. For example, multiple facilities offer inpatient treatment, medical detox, partial hospitalization, and more. This will allow for the person to invest in their well-being, as well as for treatment courts to acknowledge that people need different methods for recovery.
These treatment methods are just a few among the many that can benefit the community. We must learn to remove personal biases and to treat people for their disorder rather than punish them for what is a medical condition; as alcoholism is a medical issue and can be treated with the right services. People deserve a level of commitment that is based on their individual needs, and destigmatizing alcoholism and addiction by treating it as a public health issue leads to a path toward lifetime recovery.
1“Drunk Driving.” NHTSA. January 11, 2019. Accessed March 28, 2019. https://www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/drunk-driving.
2Osilla, Karen Chan, Magdalena Kulesza, and Jeanne Miranda. “Bringing Alcohol Treatment to Driving under the Influence Programs: Perceptions from First-time Offenders.” Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly. 2017. Accessed March 28, 2019. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5606326/.