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Individuals Convicted of Drunk Driving May Struggle with Long-Term Risky Drinking Habits

When a person is convicted of a drunk driving charge in New Jersey he or she may have to go through an intoxicated driver program that educates individuals on the dangers of driving while intoxicated and also identifies individuals who need treatment for substance abuse. A recent study looked at the relationship between individuals convicted of drunk driving and their drinking and drug habits.

The study found in interviews with 700 adults that many people convicted of drunk driving have a long-term history of heavy drinking or fell back into a pattern of heavy drinking after trying to alter their behavior for a period of time. The study also found that between 20 to 30 percent of the surveyed adults with drinking and driving convictions met the definition for either alcohol or drug dependence, or for mental health conditions, such as depression or post-traumatic stress disorder.

The lead author of the study said that the findings show a DWI or DUI conviction can identify a person at risk, and when individuals are screened for alcohol or drug dependence by the court, the time can be used to intervene and address the issues an individual may have with alcohol or drugs.

The potential to screen and treat individuals convicted of a drinking and driving offense and who may have dependence issues is squandered because many people do not believe treatment is required or those who want treatment cannot afford to pay.

The study did not examine the period immediately following a DWI conviction to see if the arrest, conviction and penalties have any impact on behavior.

Source: Reuters,”Drunk Drivers Show Risky Lifetime Drinking Habits,” Amy Norton, June 21, 2012

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