Legal Problems: Should I Go To Treatment After Getting A DUI/DWI?
Medically reviewed byIsaac Alexis, M.D., AAMA, AMP-BC
March 20, 2019
The question of whether a DUI or DWI should result in getting treatment is a reasonable one with which to grapple. After all, if alcohol or use of drugs result in something as serious as driving a car “under the influence” or “while intoxicated,” then you may be at risk of, or already suffering from, a physical dependence on the substance(s).
If the legal problems did not result in serious legal consequences, it’s still important to consider whether or not you are dealing with problem drinking or other substance abuse. You may opt for therapy or a 12-step program in place of residential or out-patient treatment programs. This option is there to circumvent any dire consequences where drug use continues. You may have gotten lucky and hit a guardrail with your car. That guard rail could have been a family of four. These are the kind of far-reaching and devastating consequences that can haunt entire families.
In some cases, drug courts or judges may include treatment in lieu of a prison sentence for first offenders. This act of treating the addiction, rather than punishing the crime, is one that acknowledges the serious impact drugs and alcohol can have over us.
Will Getting Treatment Reduce Sentencing?
Drugs and alcohol have a major impact on crime rates. In fact, more than two-thirds of prison populations abused alcohol, prescription, or illicit drugs prior to a criminal conviction. The legal system recognizes the correlation between substance abuse and increased rates of crime, and in some cases, requires treatment for drug or alcohol addiction in lieu of or in addition to sentencing. For a first time offender, this can mean the difference between a 10-year sentence and rehab.
While choosing to go to rehab for drug or alcohol problems is most effective when the individual is truly interested in getting clean, rehab is certainly more likely to have a profound long-term effect over the US prison system.
How To Decide Whether You Need Treatment or Not?
In some cases, the court will mandate some sort of rehabilitation for drug or alcohol-related offenses. In other cases, in which sentencing is light, it may be up to the individual to consider treatment for drug or alcohol addiction, to avoid future incidents and charges.
Deciding whether you need treatment is really based on whether or not you can cope with life without turning to drugs or alcohol. Your arrest may be a sign that you are on the way to a bigger problem with addiction, so it’s important to evaluate how and when you use drugs or alcohol in your day to day life.
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It can help to think about when and what you typically use to help you cope or manage stress. Do you find that you drink regularly after work? Are you finding that you need more alcohol to achieve the desired effect? What would happen if you stopped drinking altogether for 30 days? Could you?
The thirty-day test is one that can help determine whether you have any signs of withdrawals or cravings following cessation of use of a substance. Signs of withdrawal vary but generally lead to feelings of anxiety, depression, changes in sleep cycles, and in some cases, shakiness. Cravings are also a sign of physical dependence on a substance.
Common Signs of Withdrawal Include:
Where these signs of addiction exist, treatment may be hugely beneficial. Assessing the severity of the addiction can help determine the best level of treatment available to address not only the addiction but the underlying issues and risk factors resulting in the addiction.
How Will Treatment Benefit Me?
Treatment isn’t just about getting clean; it’s about learning to cope with external stresses and other issues that regularly lead to the use of drugs and alcohol. Drug or alcohol rehab can mean the difference between a life spiraling out of control, and a more rewarding life in which you have the coping strategies to handle what comes your way.
Evidence-based treatment will benefit you in several ways. After assessing the severity of the addiction and managing the side effects of detox, a comprehensive rehab program will work with you to address those issues in your life that trigger drug cravings. These drug triggers may be in the form of a person who dredges up painful memories of your past, stressful events at work, or in the form of frequent drug exposures. Understanding what triggers cravings is the first step in helping you overcome the need or compulsion to use.
Once drug triggers have been identified, you’ll learn the coping strategies to reduce the severity of cravings. Often these strategies involve techniques including mindfulness, techniques to address or alter perceptions of an environment, exercise, and improvements in diet that benefit the person long after they have overcome the addiction.
Drug or alcohol rehab also help us improve our relationships with others, allowing us time to address and process painful events in our past and work toward improving how we interact with those in our lives presently. Treatment is also hugely beneficial in helping those who have previously relied on drugs and alcohol set and achieve realistic recovery goals, a positive tool that can be applied to any area of our lives outside of treatment.
Drug or Alcohol Treatment Helps the Individual:
- Identify drug triggers
- Reduce the severity of cravings
- Address and change perceptions
- Improve relationships
- Set goals and achieve them.
If You Need Help for Drug or Alcohol Addiction, Don’t Wait
RehabCenter.net is your online resource for the comprehensive, evidence-based care you deserve in helping you achieve your long-term rehabilitation goals. We’ll connect you to the professional support and compassionate care programs that will take you from a place of struggle to a place of strength. If you need help for alcohol or alcohol addiction, don’t wait; call and speak with someone in confidence today and begin a new and rewarding life in recovery.