If you’ve been arrested for driving under the influence (DUI), you’re not alone: over 1 million Americans were arrested in 2018 alone for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Your DUI probably taught you that driving while impaired carries serious financial and legal implications. However, you might also be wondering what this arrest might be telling you about your own health and well-being. Was this incident a sign that you have a substance abuse problem? What should you do next? Here is what you need to know about identifying and addressing substance abuse after DUI.
The severity of the issue
Perhaps the commonplace nature of driving while drunk has made this behavior appear to be a societal norm. Whether you were coming from a nightclub in Miami or leaving a quiet dinner with friends, it can be easy to justify getting behind the wheel after having one too many.
Be that as it may, although it is not uncommon for people to be arrested for driving drunk, it is important to know the grave consequences of such reckless choices.
According to the CDC, 30 people die in drunk driving-related accidents per day. That’s one death every 50 minutes. 10,142 people were killed in accident-impaired crashes in 2019 alone. 28% of all traffic deaths involve an alcohol-impaired driver. Every two minutes, someone is injured in an alcohol-related crash.
Drunk driving is a major issue that will impact 2 out of 3 people in their lifetime. This epidemic is incredibly widespread and it is up to you to make a positive change.
Getting evaluated after a DUI
In 45 states and the District of Columbia, it is not necessarily up to you to decide whether you have a substance abuse problem. These states require an evaluation for substance abuse after a person’s first DUI arrest. If a problem surfaces, the offender may be required to undergo treatment.
Most people who are arrested for DUI are also required to complete classes on the hazards of driving under the influence; if you are found to have a problem with drugs or alcohol, the number of these mandatory education classes will be increased.
After facing the consequences of a DUI arrest, you may be willing to modify your drinking and driving behavior, however, not everyone will be motivated to change. About one-third of DUI arrests are repeat offenders. Around 50 to 75 percent of drunk drivers drive on suspended licenses. Nearly 1 in 10 drivers who die in alcohol-related crashes are repeat offenders.
If this is your first offense, you might consider this DUI a warning sign. Continuing to drink or use drugs despite the negative consequences associated with a DUI can be a sign of a substance abuse problem.
In the future, try enforcing simple guidelines to keep yourself within the bounds of moderation. Before you leave for your destination where you intend to drink, give yourself a limit of how many alcoholic beverages you intend to consume. Elect a designated driver well before the event begins, and be sure that they hold up their end of the agreement by truly abstaining.
If no one in your party is sober and able to drive home, call an Uber or Lyft to get a ride.
Recognizing a problem
If you were arrested for drinking and driving, it is possible that you abuse alcohol, even if you don’t have alcoholism. Alcohol abuse can be defined as a pattern of drinking behavior that negatively impacts your relationships, health or ability to work. Alcoholism, on the other hand, is a chronic disease marked by a physical dependence on alcohol.
Alcohol abuse is a slippery slope, and it is wise to get help before a dependence forms. While it is possible for a person abusing alcohol to curtail their drinking or quit completely, the resources and support offered by treatment programs significantly increase the odds of long-term success.
Getting arrested for driving under the influence is a serious wake-up call. Even if you don’t have a substance abuse problem, it’s a harsh reminder that merely a small amount of drugs or alcohol is unsafe if you plan to drive.
However, if you’re struggling with substance abuse, the arrest can be an unexpected blessing. In spite of the difficult consequences, a DUI can motivate you to take the important first steps toward beginning a new, sober life.
Considering taking the first steps towards treatment? Browse the addiction treatment programs offered by Rehab After Work, or contact our admissions department at 610-644-6464 to schedule an evaluation.