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July 4, 1986

Drunken Driving

Author Affiliations

Alcoholism and Compulsive Gambling Programs South Oaks Hospital Amityville, NY

JAMA. 1986;256(1):36-37. doi:10.1001/jama.1986.03380010040011

To the Editor.—  I would like to comment on your otherwise excellent editorial concerning driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs1 in which you comment that, in regard to drinking drivers who are alcoholic, "Only tough laws and tough enforcement are likely to help." I would remind our profession that alcoholism is a treatable disease and that recovered alcoholics do not drink and drive.A recent large-scale study (The National Institute of Mental Health Multisite Epidemiological Catchment Area Program)2 found that alcoholism is the most common adult mental disorder in the United States, with a lifetime prevalence of 11% to 16%3 and a six-month prevalence of 4.5% to 5.7%4 in the three sites reporting. Thus, alcoholic drivers are not uncommon on our highways.Law enforcement agencies can create effective motivation, in alcoholics convicted of driving while impaired or intoxicated, to initiate and to continue the