An Analysis of Problem Drinker Diagnosis and Referral in the Fairfax Alcohol Safety Action Project, 1973

Report No: 75-R22

Published in 1974

About the report:

This report provides an analysis of the diagnosis and referral activities of the Fairfax, Virginia, Alcohol Safety Action Project (ASAP), a $2.3 million demonstration program for combating the drinking driver problem. The exploratory nature of ASAP countermeasure operations necessitates research for validating the procedures used to match individual client needs and available treatment resources. This study identifies key decision points and priority variables essential for the control of diagnostic and referral activities. Unique among the 35 community-based ASAP programs funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Probation Office and Mental Health units of the Fairfax ASAP use group interview techniques to diagnose and classify drunken drivers. Also unique to the Fairfax ASAP is a case management strategy whereby defendants are frequently referred to a series of separate treatment programs. These are intended to provide exposure to a number of rehabilitative approaches. However, in developing administrative policy, a limitation upon the number (now often three) of treatment modalities assigned an individual should be dependent upon a trade-off of two considerations: likely incremental program benefits versus economic and psychological costs to the client of multiple rehabilitative courses having fees from $30 to $60 each. Because of the costs of the detailed and intensive diagnostic procedures in Fairfax and the need to develop a less sophisticated and lower cost procedure for use in the mini ASAP's in other communities in Virginia, it was concluded that preliminary classification based upon the BAC (blood alcohol content) at the time of arrest, previous traffic records, and problem drinking symptoms should be used for all defendants. Those defendants who couldn't be classified on the basis of their records could then be scheduled for group interviews. A model which interrelates the number of problem drinking characteristics, BAC at time of arrest, and previous traffic violations was developed to supplement diagnostic decisions made in Fairfax by serving as a quick crosscheck on all diagnostic decisions.

Disclaimer Statement:The contents of this report reflect the views of the author(s), who is responsible for the facts and the accuracy of the data presented herein. The contents do not necessarily reflect the official views or policies of the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Commonwealth Transportation Board, or the Federal Highway Administration. This report does not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation. Any inclusion of manufacturer names, trade names, or trademarks is for identification purposes only and is not to be considered an endorsement.


Other Authors

Robert F. Jordan

Last updated: February 5, 2024

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