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Home arrow Education arrow 100 Questions & Answers About Alcoholism

VII. Surviving Alcoholism

Will I ever be able to drink again?

I was arrested for a DUI. What should I do?

What are my rights to privacy?

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Will I ever be able to drink again?

This will forever be the most controversial issue, particularly with the growth of Moderation Management (MM) and its founder's eventual jump to AA, followed by her causing the deaths of two people while driving intoxicated. MM's primary book, Moderate Drinking, shares some important points in common with AA's Big Book. Notably, it makes clear distinctions between problem drinkers and alcoholics: Problem drinkers may be able to control their drinking, whereas alcoholics need to maintain abstinence (see Question 44). This is exactly the claim that the Big Book makes. Where the two organizations differ is on who makes the determination that someone is a problem drinker versus an alcoholic. Because AA focuses on denial as a major problem with alcoholics, then clearly an alcoholic is incapable of deciding for himself or herself whether he or she is a problem drinker or an alcoholic. Only an outside observer can determine that. MM, on the other hand, allows its own members to make the determination. Thus, according to AA, MM's members are merely alcoholics in denial. AA's goal is absolute abstinence over the remainder of a person's lifetime, and any drink constitutes either a "slip" or relapse. MM, alternatively, allows the individual to decide whether to drink or maintain abstinence.

Moderation Management (MM) founded in 1993 as an alternative alcoholic treatment program to the traditional AA 12-step program.

AA's goal is absolute abstinence over the remainder of a persons lifetime, and any drink constitutes either a "slip" or re lapse. MM, alternatively, allows the individual to decide whether to drink or maintain abstinence.

MM members are more likely than AA members to be female, younger, and employed. Additionally, most MM members have never sought treatment for their alcohol problem. They reported animosity toward AA and had no desire to participate in such a program. A number of individuals in MM still have evidence of alcohol dependency, and many of those who are unable to moderate their drinking do move toward a goal of abstinence with some measure of success. One of the criticisms is that, aside from inappropriately promoting continued alcohol use among alcoholics, morbidity and mortality will rise as a result of this type of program. Despite this criticism, the continued morbidity and mortality among AA members remains an everpresent issue, as slips and relapses are high in this group as well. Remember that the founder of MM left MM for AA in order to achieve abstinence the month before her tragic accident.

Moving away from the controversial rhetoric that various groups engage in hinges on one simple question: Is alcohol reeking havoc in your life in any way? Are you using alcohol despite all evidence that it is destroying your personal and professional relationships and/or your health? If the answer is yes, then you are an alcoholic. If you are an alcoholic you need to stop drinking, period; otherwise, your life and/or someone else's life are in jeopardy. Whether you can moderate your alcohol use will quickly become apparent to you and all who you affect. You may be able to deny the obvious, but the obvious will not deny you!

I was arrested for a DUI. What should I do?

Everyone agrees that traffic-related fatalities resulting from alcohol intoxication are terrible tragedies that evoke a great deal of anger, rage, and a need for retribution. In 2005, as a result of active lobbying efforts of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), the U.S. Congress passed a federal law requiring all states to enforce a legal limit for blood alcohol level of 0.08. Overall, this has been a success in reducing the incidence of traffic related fatalities. The penalties for such a violation are left up to the state. They can include sanctions such as jail, detention, and/or probation, impounding of the vehicle, license suspension, license plate confiscation, enforced use of ignition interlock mechanisms that require one to blow into a breathalyzer for the key to function, and rehabilitation programs ranging from education classes to inpatient rehabilitation programs. States often modify their laws to change behavior. For example, Minnesota found that 80% of drivers who lost their licenses as a result of a DWI continued to drive. This law obviously did not achieve its goal. Thus, they began impounding their vehicular license plates with much greater success in getting alcoholics off the roads. Eighteen states have mandatory jail time for first-time offenders. Additionally, some states have the leeway of charging someone for driving under the influence with any amount of alcohol in their system, even if the blood alcohol level is less than 0.08, if they fail a field test and/or are on other prescription or nonprescription medications that might influence their driving ability.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) an advocacy group of women who have lost someone, usually a child, because of a drunk driver.

In 2005, as a result of active lobbying efforts of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the U.S. Congress passed a federal law requiring all states to enforce a legal limit for blood alcohol level of 0.08.

What should you do? First, get yourself a good lawyer in the state where the incident occurred. Because each state's laws are different, you must find a credible lawyer who knows the laws specific to your state. Second, stop drinking, and join a recovery program immediately. If you can show the court that you admit to needing rehabilitation, the sentence might be lighter than if you deny that you are having problems with alcohol or drugs.

 
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