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Iv. Rehabilitation options for offenders sentenced to treatment

The toll to the Nation, in terms of the cost of health care and reduced or lost productivity due to alcohol abuse and alcoholism, includes an estimated 100,000 deaths and $184.6 billion in 1998 (NIAAA, 2000). More effective treatment of DWI offenders may help reduce these costs (Holder and Blose, 1992). Court-mandated DWI evaluation and rehabilitation often represent the first opportunity for people with alcohol-related problems to obtain appropriate treatment. Nevertheless, because many may regard such treatment as a dimension of their punishment, treatment providers must overcome DWI offenders’ resistance, which may be even greater than resistance to treatment by other alcohol-abusing clients. Treatment that uses a motivational-interviewing (MI)-style feedback session that lasts only 80 minutes has been found to reduce recidivism rates (Nochajski and Stasiewicz, 2002). This style of treatment engages offenders and encourages them to think about measurable changes in their drinking behavior (Miller and Rollnick, 1991).

  • Many programs and activities are considered to be “treatment,” including:
  • Brief classroom discussions (i.e., “DWI school”)
  • Participation in self-help groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)
  • Attendance at outpatient counseling sessions of varying intensity
  • Long-term inpatient (i.e., residential) programs conducted in hospitals or clinics

DWI offenders are best matched to the specific extent of treatment options by means of a professional evaluation (Wells-Parker et al., 1995). For DWI offenders, treatment programs should always be considered in addition to license suspension/revocation rather than in place of it. A comprehensive book on the subject of assessment and treatment of the DWI offender has recently been published (Cavaiola and Wuth, 2002).

Education Programs

Education for DWI offenders consists of special schools offering simple, straightforward educational presentations about the medical and legal consequences of drinking, including drinking and driving (Siegal, 1984). In conjunction with lectures and readings, offenders may be shown movies depicting alcohol-related crashes and injuries. For offenders who are not alcoholic, DWI education reduces recidivism by approximately 10 percent compared with a fine alone (NHTSA, 1986; Wells-Parker et al., 1995).