Behavioral Treatment of Drunk-driving Recidivists: Short-term and Long-term Effects

Gerard J. Connors, Stephen A. Maisto, Seth M. Ersner-Hershfield

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


This study was designed to investigate the relative effects of two behavioral group treatments on short-term (knowledge and attitude change) and long-term (recidivism) variables among persons with multiple arrests for driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI). Subjects were randomly assigned to a behavioral treatment that was highly-individualized and focused on principles of self-control or to a general behavioral treatment (which focused on alcohol education, relaxation training, and guided reevaluation of situations typically associated with DUI arrests). Results showed that subjects in both groups reported, over treatment, a more frequent use of portable breath test devices for assessing blood alcohol levels and perceived an increased probability of being arrested if they drank and drove. In addition, subjects in the individualized behavioral groups reported that they subsequently spent more time thinking about avoiding DUI. However, the two treatment groups did not differ in their rates of DUI arrest recidivism (which averaged 11.7% per year over the three-year follow-up period). One third of the subjects were rearrested for DUI during the 36-month follow-up period, although there were indications that rearrests may have been delayed as a function of the treatment interventions. Taken together, the data suggest that these drunk-driving recidivists may be responsive to the treatment interventions described herein. Additional research is needed to specify the relative impact of the behavioral techniques utilized in the treatment programs and to identify strategies for maintaining treatment gains over longer periods of time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)34-45
Number of pages12
JournalBehavioural Psychotherapy
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1986
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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