Tiger Woods was arrested for suspicion of DUI by police in Jupiter, Florida around 3 a.m. this morning. It is unknown at this time if he tested positive for alcohol or drugs. This is not the first time that Woods has had a run-in with authorities, he had a high-profile mishap in November 2009 involving a vehicle. It was never established if drugs or alcohol played any part in that incident, however.
This latest incident does offer some possible insight into Wood’s recent troubles both on and off the golf course, however, and it goes to show that problems with addiction and substance abuse can affect people at all levels of our society.
In the first four months of 2017, there were 1,481 DUI arrests in the State of Colorado, according to public record. Colorado is among the top five states in per capita DUI arrests each year.
While Woods’ arrest this morning is certainly grabbing headlines across the nation due to his celebrity status, there are hundreds more DUI arrests across the United States each day that do not garner nearly enough attention.
DUI in Colorado and the entire country is a serious problem. With thousands of fatalities each year it is a significant public health issue that can be drastically reduced if the correct steps are taken.
WHY IS DUI SUCH A HUGE PROBLEM?
DUI related arrests and traffic accidents have long been a major concern among law enforcement agencies across the country. A recent focus on enforcement has led to a slight decrease in DUI arrests and related fatalities, however, the number of those impacted are still staggering. Colorado had 513 DUI related fatalities in 2014 alone.
The reason that increased enforcement has not reduced these issues more significantly is simple. Law enforcement agencies are not taking into account that fact that often times DUI is simply more than a case of poor decision making by an otherwise sane individual. Many of these occurrences involve people who are afflicted with a legitimate disease, substance abuse disorder, which severely alters their ability to make decisions in the first place.
Alcoholism and drug addiction are a huge issue in this country and those impacted by them are major contributors to overall DUI statistics. The problem is the nature of alcoholism and drug addiction does not allow those who suffer from it to change their behaviors based on consequences and punishment alone. You cannot expect punishment to serve as an adequate treatment for a disease, which alcoholism and drug addiction both are.
There are plenty of examples of people who have had multiple DUI arrests even after quite severe consequences such as lengthy jail sentences. This goes to show that while enforcement certainly is necessary, more in-depth treatment for those who struggle with addiction alcoholism needs to be added to the equation if DUI arrests and fatalities are going to be drastically reduced across the country.
HOW CAN DUI BE REDUCED?
While not every DUI is by someone who is an addict or an alcoholic, a significant number of them are. This is particularly true for repeat offenders. Unfortunately, as long as alcohol continues to be such an ingrained part of American culture there is probably no way to completely eradicate DUI, there are measures that can be taken which should drastically reduce it.
This would mean focusing on treatment instead of, or at least in addition to punishment of DUI offenders who clearly struggle with some form of substance abuse.
While some DUI offenders are required to complete some sort of substance abuse assessment before they are able to get their driver’s license back, these assessments typically do not result in the mandate for serious and effective substance abuse treatment. Instead, they may require, at most, a few group or individual counseling sessions before the license is reissued.
The problem with this is that substance abuse is a serious disorder that typically requires rather intensive long-term treatment. Most successful outcomes in treatment are a result of 90 days of inpatient treatment followed by one to three months of outpatient treatment. The longer and more intensive the treatment, the higher the chance for a successful outcome.
Many people who have had very serious substance abuse issues in their life were able to completely change with the help of quality treatment and remain abstinent from drugs and alcohol for the rest of their lives. The problem of DUI incidents in this country is very solvable, we are just going about it the wrong way.
Whether it’s Tiger Woods or anyone else who may be struggling with substance abuse, the best solution is to find a reputable facility with trained professionals who are experienced in the treatment of this disease.