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Drunk driving conviction indicates struggle with alcohol

When someone mentions a drunk driver in Montgomery County people are quick to condemn the action. While the topic of driving under the influence of alcohol is bound to raise some very strong opinions and emotions, few people look at a conviction for drunk driving as an indicator of a problem with alcohol.

A new study has shown that many people with a conviction for drunk driving have had a life-long struggle with drinking. Approximately half of the 700 people surveyed said they either had started drinking heavily after they had previously stopped or moderated their intake or they have been drinking heavily for most of their lives. The 25 percent of people who said they went back to risky levels of drinking did not, however, indicate why they started drinking again.

For many of these individuals, their struggles with alcohol existed in conjunction with other mental health conditions, such as depression. The lead researcher in this study opined that it was very important to get people with risky relationships with alcohol into treatment and it is likely that a criminal conviction and time in jail or prison will do little to address some of the underlying causes of alcohol dependence.

It is true that drinking and driving can be dangerous, but it appears that many of the individuals who are convicted of and punished for driving under the influence of alcohol have little control over their own alcohol consumption. Until they can receive the treatment they need, the criminal system may do little to prevent future incidences of impaired driving.

Source: Reuters, "Drunk drivers show risky lifetime drinking habits - study," Amy Norton, June 21, 2012

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