Alcohol is the #1 drug of abuse for criminal offenders, and getting offenders sober has become the core focus of criminal justice programs throughout the country.
While drugs are relatively easy to identify in periodic testing, alcohol poses unique challenges for both corrections and treatment professionals. The body’s rapid metabolism of alcohol, the behavioral patterns of addicted offenders, and the fact that alcohol is legally obtained all make it difficult to assess, detect, and deter alcohol-involved offenders.
What is a Sober Day?
A Sober Day can be defined as a 24-hour period in which a monitored individual has no confirmed consumption of alcohol and no confirmed attempt to tamper or circumvent testing in order to mask the consumption of alcohol. To be a true Sober Day, an offender must:
Be able to present evidence-based confirmation of sobriety for each 24-hour period
Be monitored transdermally (via perspiration/the skin) in order to meet the required test frequency
Be tested a minimum of once per hour per 24-hour period
Be tested automatically, with no requirement to participate in the testing
Sobriety vs. Abstinence
Despite the importance of sobriety in the justice system, the difficulties of keeping tabs on alcohol-involved offenders means there are a wide variety of definitions for sobriety. While treatment professionals emphasize the importance of complete abstinence, the realities of long-term testing often mean that offenders are tested randomly, periodically, or not at all, with the hope that the chance they might get caught is enough of a deterrent to drinking. Unfortunately, some offenders are willing to take that chance.
Today, programs and technologies are proliferating allowing courts and treatment providers to cost-effectively require and enforce more than sober moments. They’re enforcing Sober Days.