NIH Record - National Institutes of Health

Criminal Justice Alcohol Program Linked to Decreased Mortality

A criminal justice program that requires offenders convicted of alcohol-related offenses to stop drinking and submit to frequent alcohol testing with swift, certain and modest sanctions for a violation was linked to a significant reduction in county-level mortality rates in South Dakota. These results came from a study funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

The 24/7 Sobriety program, launched in South Dakota in 2005, was associated with a 4.2 percent decrease in all-cause mortality over 6 years, with the largest reductions occurring among women and individuals over 40. Deaths from circulatory conditions, which include heart disease and stroke, declined significantly.

“The study suggests that effective programs for alcohol-involved offenders may have benefits, not only for the participants themselves, but [also] for the community as a whole,” said Dr. George Koob, NIAAA director. “If these results are replicated in future studies, it could advance our understanding of how interventions within the criminal justice system can be used to improve public health.”

The study results appeared online in The Lancet Psychiatry.

The NIH Record

The NIH Record, founded in 1949, is the biweekly newsletter for employees of the National Institutes of Health.

Published 25 times each year, it comes out on payday Fridays.

Assistant Editor: Eric Bock (link sends e-mail)

Staff Writer: Amber Snyder (link sends e-mail)