Co-operation between police and social treatment services offering treatment to drink and drug drivers: experience in Sweden

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Objective: To describe and analyze a measure that has been introduced in Sweden with the objective of quickly offering treatment for the alcohol or drug problems suspected drink or drug drivers may have. The goal of the measure is that every suspected drink or drug driver shall, as soon as apprehended by the police, be offered contact with the social services or the dependency care and treatment service, which can offer a consultation and, if needed, suitable treatment.

Method: Interviews and questionnaire surveys, as well as forms that describe the treatment received by each individual case.

Results: About 20 percent of all those who receive the offer from the police accept contact with the social services or the care and treatment service, and approximately 40 percent of these also attend the consultation. There is a favorable fundamental attitude to the method among the participating authorities. However, some shortcomings in application are revealed. One example concerns drug drivers who are offered contact with the social services or the care and treatment service to a considerably lesser extent than drink drivers. Another neglected group are the people who are at first suspected of drink driving but are later found to have an alcohol concentration below the legal limit. Compared with those who have an alcohol concentration above the legal limit, this group is offered contact to a lesser extent and also have a lower propensity to accept the offer.

Conclusions: The results indicate a strong support for the method from involved authorities, but participation could be improved by giving more attention to neglected groups.

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