An example of a successful program that deals with DWI offenders is the 24/7 Sobriety Project, which while focused on alcohol use, applies to both alcohol and drug using DWI offenders. Close monitoring and frequent drug and alcohol testing on repeat DWI offenders significantly reduces both substance use and rates of DWI offenses. Offenders are aware of the swift and certain consequences for violation of the no-use standard which keeps them on target and refraining from drug use.
Started in South Dakota under the inspired vision of Attorney General Larry Long and with the resourceful support of Bill Mickelson, this program is being expanded and integrated into new state programs. The 24/7 Sobriety Project received the John P. McGovern Award for Prevention in June, 2009 from the Institute for Behavior and Health, Inc.
An evaluation findings report on the long-term effects of South Dakota's 24/7 Sobriety Project upon DUI recidivism demonstrates that the program is very successful in addressing offender sobriety while individuals are in the program. Participants who participate in twice-daily breath tests have lower rates of DUI recidivism when compared to individuals who do not participate in the program. For repeat offenders, even minimal days of participation in 24/7 Sobriety positively impact recidivism rates and individuals with at least 30 days or program participation demonstrate a greater reduction in recidivism.
To learn more about this innovative program visit the 24/7 Sobriety Project website.
The 24/7 Sobriety Project has many similarities to the HOPE Probation program, whose creator Judge Steven S. Alm received the John P. McGovern Award for leadership in drug abuse prevention. These two programs also have many similarities to the Physicians' Health Programs which have been a central research focus of IBH for the past four years. While each of these programs has unique elements and work with distinctive populations, they all address substance use disorders and all involve the standard of no-use of alcohol and other drugs which is enforced by frequent random drug and alcohol testing linked to swift, certain, but not severe, consequences.
The standard of abstinence that is carefully monitored and strictly enforced has been found, in all of these programs, to produce low levels of relapse to alcohol and other drug use and high levels of successful program completion. The evaluations of both 24/7 Sobriety and HOPE Probation have shown that this strategy also leads to low rates of new crimes and low levels of incarceration for these high-risk criminal offender populations.
This new strategy is distinctly different from both the current standard of drug treatment and the management of criminal offenders in the community. It offers hope of dramatically improving the outcomes for a broad range of people with substance use disorders.