Unique alcohol avoidance program is associated with lower death rates
A new study conducted by the RAND Corporation suggests that a statewide alcohol-monitoring program in South Dakota, known as the 24/7 Sobriety Program, is associated with lower death rates among those arrested for drunk driving and other alcohol-involved offenses. The program requires participants to be tested frequently for alcohol use, and those who test positive or miss a test face swift but modest sanctions, such as a night or two in jail. The study found that those who participated in the program had approximately a 50% lower risk of dying during the study period compared to those who did not participate in the program.
Alcohol-related deaths in the United States
Alcohol is the third-leading cause of preventable death in the United States. In 2020 alone, alcohol-impaired driving claimed 11,654 lives, representing a 14% increase over the previous year. Given the significant impact that alcohol has on public health and safety, the study's findings have important implications for policymakers and public health officials.
The 24/7 Sobriety Program in South Dakota
The 24/7 Sobriety Program is a public safety effort aimed at reducing the number of repeat offenders who are arrested for alcohol-involved offenses. The program is largely focused on those who are repeatedly arrested for drunk driving and imposes very frequent alcohol testing along with swift but modest sanctions for those testing positive or missing a test, typically a night or two in jail. The program has been shown to lower the likelihood that participants will be rearrested or have probation revoked, as well as reducing county-level repeat DUI arrests and domestic violence arrests.
Study design and findings
For the study, researchers analyzed criminal history and mortality data for individuals arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol in South Dakota from 2004 to 2011. The sample included 11,827 people who participated in the 24/7 program and 48,834 nonparticipants. Researchers used several statistical approaches to compare death rates between the two groups, with each adjusting for any differences between participants and nonparticipants. All of the methods showed a lower likelihood of death among those who participated in the 24/7 program compared to those who did not.
Implications for policymakers and public health officials
The study's findings add a public health dimension to the growing evidence that the 24/7 approach improves public safety by reducing rearrest. The study suggests that such programs may also improve health outcomes for those who are enrolled. The results of the study could have important implications for policymakers and public health officials who are looking for effective ways to reduce alcohol-related deaths and improve public safety.
Journal Information: Association of an Alcohol Abstinence Program With Mortality in Individuals Arrested for Driving While Alcohol Impaired, JAMA Psychiatry (2023). DOI: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2023.0026