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Monday, November 22, 2010

Unraveling the complexity of driving while intoxicated: A study into the prevalence of psychiatric and substance abuse comorbidity

Research is beginning to provide an indication of the co-occurring substance abuse and mental health needs for the driving under the influence (DUI) population. 

This study aimed to examine the extent of such psychiatric problems among a large sample size of DUI offenders entering treatment in Texas.

This is a study of 36,373 past year DUI clients and 308,714 non-past year DUI clients admitted to Texas treatment programs between 2005 and 2008. Data were obtained from the State's administrative dataset.

Analysis indicated that non-past year DUI clients were more likely to present with more severe illicit substance use problems, while past year DUI clients were more likely to have a primary problem with alcohol. Nevertheless, a cannabis use problem was also found to be significantly associated with DUI recidivism in the last year.

In regards to mental health status, a major finding was that depression was the most common psychiatric condition reported by DUI clients, including those with more than one DUI offence in the past year. This cohort also reported elevated levels of Bipolar Disorder compared to the general population, and such a diagnosis was also associated with an increased likelihood of not completing treatment. Additionally, female clients were more likely to be diagnosed with mental health problems than males, as well as more likely to be placed on medications at admission and more likely to have problems with methamphetamine, cocaine, and opiates.

DUI offenders are at an increased risk of experiencing comorbid psychiatric disorders, and thus, corresponding treatment programs need to cater for a range of mental health concerns that are likely to affect recidivism rates.

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