WASHINGTON, DC— Repeat drunk drivers represent at least one third of all DUI arrests and likely contribute to consistent rates of DUI deaths and injuries on our nation’s highways. These statistics emphasize the need to identify and address the factors that influence DUI recidivism. More and more research has identified the fact that repeat DUI offenders often suffer from a number of disorders. In one study, in addition to lifetime alcohol disorder, 41% of the participants had an additional drug-related disorder and 44% had a major mental disorder that was not alcohol or drug-related (Shaffer et al., 2007). However, treatment for DUI offenders, which has been part of the criminal justice system for more than 30 years, most commonly consists of alcohol education and possibly some form of alcohol treatment only.
Therefore, the Division on Addictions at Cambridge Health Alliance, a teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School, and The Century Council have begun work on a project to expand and test a Computerized Assessment and Referral System (CARS) for use with a structured diagnostic mental health assessment in DUI treatment settings. Already piloted with support from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), the project will examine the relationship between psychiatric profiles and driving under the influence among repeat DUI offenders. Further, the project will refine the report generator and expand its capabilities, implement it at several DUI offender treatment sites, and conduct multiple studies including a randomized clinical trial, to assess the usability of CARS among treatment professionals and clients, and the efficacy of the tool as a brief intervention.
“Our past research shows that DUI offenders, particularly repeat DUI offenders, present multiple psychiatric issues, yet treatment rarely addresses these fundamental problems or even identifies these issues,” said Dr. Howard Shaffer, co-principal investigator on the project. The proposed project will support development, testing and refinement of the computerized assessment tool for use in a wide variety of DUI treatment settings and test its efficacy as a brief intervention.
The Century Council continues to look for innovative ways to reduce the tragedies caused by repeat and high BAC offenders on our nation’s highways. “Supporting the development of a new tool that will allow probation and parole professionals to have additional resources at their fingertips and then match a more detailed assessment with treatment opportunities is the first step in addressing the many challenges these drivers face,” said Ralph Blackman, President and CEO of The Century Council.
To learn more about The Century Council’s initiatives to fight drunk driving, visit www.centurycouncil.org.
About The Century Council
The Century Council is a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to fighting drunk driving and underage drinking and is funded by the following distillers: Bacardi U.S.A., Inc.; Beam Global Spirits & Wine, Inc.; Brown-Forman; Constellation Brands, Inc.; DIAGEO; Hood River Distillers, Inc.; Pernod Ricard USA; and Sidney Frank Importing Co., Inc. Headquartered in Arlington, Virginia and chaired by Susan Molinari, The Century Council is a leader in the fight to eliminate drunk driving and underage drinking and promotes responsible decision making regarding beverage alcohol. The Century Council develops and implements innovative programs and public awareness campaigns and promotes action through strategic partnerships. Established in 1991, The Century Council’s initiatives are highlighted on its website at www.centurycouncil.org.
About Cambridge Health Alliance
Cambridge Health Alliance is an innovative, award-winning health system that provides high quality care in Cambridge, Somerville, and Boston’s metro-north communities. It includes three hospital campuses, a network of primary care and specialty practices, the Cambridge Public Health Dept., and the Network Health plan. CHA is a Harvard Medical School teaching affiliate and is also affiliated with Harvard School of Public Health, Harvard School of Dental Medicine, and Tufts University School of Medicine. Visit us online at www.challiance.org
Jessica Lepak, The Century Council
LepakJ@centurycouncil.org; (202) 637-0077