8/03/2012

Unexpected DUI consequences


Sometimes people have a bucket load of problems in life. It's not unheard of for victims of domestic violence or other tragedies to turn to drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism. The process usually begins with a drink to help you “unwind” after a stressful day. Over time this can become a frequent occurrence and develop into a larger problem.

This happened to someone that I know. Drinking began innocently enough at first. Then, the next thing I knew she was in trouble over a DUI. We encouraged her into counseling and AA. Those helped with the problem but she needed other help to resolve the legal issues.

MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) says that in 2010, more than 1.4 million drivers were arrested for driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Ohio and some other states are using new term. OVI stands for Operating a Vehicle While Intoxicated. It's a new term for an old problem.

It was a pretty scary time for everyone who cared about her. Our worst fears were that she would hurt or kill someone else before she got help. That wasn't our only fear. She had been drinking a year earlier when she was on vacation. She decided to walk to a nearby bar by herself and couldn't find her way back. Someone helped her get back to the hotel but we have no idea who it was or where she went.

Alcoholism ultimately cost her a job that she enjoyed, her marriage and her new home. She lost everything. Denial isn't just a river but she was swimming in it. We lost contact a few years ago. The last time I spoke with her she still wasn't ready to accept help.

Speaking with a panhandler at Chick-fil-A brought my friend to mind. The panhandler had a bad history. When she got out of jail, she thought that her debt to society was paid in full. Even with the best attorney, you can't always erase your past. Now she can't get a job and seems to have few friends. Begging on the street corner is now the best that she can do to support herself.
In many respects the panhandler that I spoke with is fortunate. She is alive and no one died because of any of what she did. It makes me wonder how different things might have been for her if she had gotten help. Like my friend, her life didn't have to be this way. I think that's the saddest thing of all.

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