Alcohol-related incidents have been recognized as a significant public health issue in the United States for decades. These result in billions of dollars in lost lives, lost productivity, healthcare costs and property damage each year, while inflicting an enormous emotional and physical toll on its victims, as well as their families and loved ones. Throughout the year and each April especially, Suncoast Rehabilitation Center is dedicated to raising awareness of alcohol addiction—its societal impact and particularly its underlying causes. Driving under the influence (DUI) is an area of heightened focus as repeat offenders often return to their cars and the streets, threatening public safety.
The statistics surrounding the problem of driving under the influence are staggering. For example, in the United States in 2012, an average of one traffic fatality caused by drunk driving occurred every 51 minutes (1) and approximately one in three drunk-driving convictions involve repeat offenders. (2) Data studied by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) revealed that the risk of being involved in a fatal car accident is four times higher for a person with a DUI conviction – and with each additional drunk driving arrest, the probability grows that an individual will be involved in a fatal car accident. (2)
Tammy Strickling, Executive Director of Suncoast, maintains that the justice system is failing the public by continuously putting people with DUI convictions back on the street without addressing their underlying alcohol addiction through treatment programs. News reports abound of repeat offenders who continue to drive while alcohol-impaired despite previous arrests:
- In Washington State, a man who eluded police in a high-speed chase as he tried to avoid his seventh drunk-driving arrest was sentenced to just one year of work release. Protestors at his sentencing complained he was given special treatment because of his wealth. (3)
- A South Dakota man has been arrested 19 times for drunk driving, and received only a two-year sentence after his 16th arrest. (4)
- A Bayport, Minn. man who was convicted 27 times for DUI is free again after serving five years in prison. (4) What are the odds that his neighbors will be exposed to him drinking and driving his way to a 28th conviction?
While Strickling commends actions to significantly reduce drunk driving offenses –such as the invention of ignition interlock devices, which prevent a car from starting if a driver’s breath registers a certain amount of alcohol (5) – she maintains that such tools do not address the cause of an individual’s alcohol abuse, which is the key to overcoming the daily battle of staying sober.
“Individuals who abuse alcohol and other drugs can be rehabilitated when they receive treatment for their addiction and its fundamental causes,” said Strickling. “Sentencing those convicted of DUI to light jail sentences, work release or community service does not treat their addiction, nor does it prevent them from re-offending.”
Drunk driving has permeated American society as an estimated four million U.S. adults who responded to a survey by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) admitted to at least one incident of alcohol-impaired driving. Alcohol-impaired driving rates were much higher in young men aged 21 – 34, and among binge drinkers. Approximately 4.5% of the adult population who reported binge drinking at least four times per month accounted for 55% of alcohol-impaired driving episodes (6) – an alarming rate which doesn’t appear to be slowing down.
Suncoast offers hope to individuals struggling with alcohol dependence through a rehabilitation program that can adequately address each aspect of the person’s addiction. By enabling its clients to take the first step in conquering addiction and reclaiming their lives from alcohol, Suncoast’s medical team designs treatment programs to physically address the nutritional deficiencies created by substance abuse and tailoring client therapy to help provide insight into their personal causes of addiction—all intended to help those suffering from addiction confront life better, without reverting to alcohol.
For more information about Suncoast Rehab Center’s programs, visit http://www.suncoastrehabcenter.com/?kmas=324 or call 877-780-2641.
About Suncoast Rehab Center:
Located in Spring Hill, Florida, with a 76% success rate, Suncoast Rehab Center provides long-term residential treatment, intensive physical detoxification, life skills and cognitive therapy and counseling. Suncoast is licensed by the Florida Department of Children and Families, and was recently awarded a 100% inspection score for the fifth year in a row. Suncoast has a mission to educate youth and adults about drugs and the dangers of drugs, with the aim of preventing future drug use and abuse. Suncoast handles the physical deficiencies, weakness and problems created through drug use, without the use of additional drugs. Clients are helped to uncover the issues that led to their drug use through counseling, therapy and life skills that put the client back in control of his/her life and future. Suncoast’s purpose in drug rehabilitation is to heal the whole person and give the person tools and education to remain drug–free. For more information, visit http://www.suncoastrehabcenter.com/?kmas=324.
1. “Alcohol-Impaired Driving;” Traffic Safety Facts, 2012 Data, U.S. Department of Transportation National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; December, 2013; accessed April 7, 2015. nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/811870.pdf.
2. “Repeat Drunk Driving Offenders;” DrunkDrivingStats.Org; accessed April 7, 2015. drunkdrivingstats.org/repeatdrunkdrivingoffenders.html.
3. “Shaun Goodman, Wealthy Man With 7th DUI Arrest, Gets Light Sentence;” Huffington Post, May 19, 2014; accessed April 7, 2015. huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/19/shaun-goodman-wealthy-dui_n_5352632.html.
4. “Some Drunken Drivers Keep Returning to the Road, Despite Repeat Offenses;” Today Health, March 18, 2015; accessed April 7, 2015. today.com/health/some-drunk-drivers-keep-returning-road-despite-repeat-offenses-2D80552814.
5. “The Economic and Societal Impact of Motor Vehicle Crashes, 2010;” National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, May 2014; accessed April 7, 2015. nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/pubs/812013.pdf.
6. “Vital Signs: Alcohol-Impaired Driving Among Adults—United States, 2010;” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, October 7, 2011; accessed April 7, 2015. cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6039a4.htm.