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Campus News
Your faculty and staff news since 1965
Current Issue: December 9, 2002
Volume 38, Number 11

UNM DWI study shows treatment prevents re-arrest

By Steve Carr

Drunk drivers who completed a treatment program in one New Mexico county were less likely to be arrested again for driving under the influence than those who did not undergo treatment, according to a new study conducted by the Center on Alcoholism, Substance Abuse, and Addictions (CASAA) at UNM.

The study, “Rearrest Rates After Incarceration for DWI: A Comparative Study in a Southwestern U.S. County,” was conducted by Gill Woodall, director, Prevention, Education and Research Branch at CASAA, and associate professor in the Communication and Journalism Department.

The research, originally funded by a $2.5 million grant awarded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, was conducted in San Juan County in northwestern New Mexico where alcohol-related crashes accounted for more than $94 million in economic costs. Woodall found that nearly 30 percent of offenders were less likely to be rearrested for DWI in the five years following their first arrest than those who did not complete the program.

Jim Davis, director of the Division of Government Research, a division of the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at UNM, provided records for all driving while intoxicated arrests in San Juan County, from Aug. 1994 through March 2001, and Woodall and his colleagues analyzed the data. The county instituted a DWI treatment program in 1994 that included 28 days of jail time and individual and group treatment.

The program, which focuses on first-time offenders, incarcerates participants in a minimum security facility and provides a multicomponent treatment program. During incarceration, offenders receive inpatient treatment, designed to be culturally appropriate.

The specific treatment components included: alcohol use, abuse and dependence; health and nutrition; psychological effects of alcohol abuse; a drinking and driving awareness; a stress management; and goal-setting, in which clients devise an action plan for their immediate future. Other components are focused on family issues and alcohol; domestic violence; HIV/AIDS prevention; and a work release program.