It has become standard and probably not too effective to sentence drunks to meetings at Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). Every few days the miscreants who had appeared before judges show up at AA meetings and have documents signed verifying that they had attended. According to research about 5% to 10% will discontinue getting drunk.
But a bestselling book might have courts re-thinking that bit of the status quo. That book is "The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business." The author is Charles Duhigg. Suppose judges began framing the behavior that gets men and women in front of them for crimes associated with excessive alcohol consumption as a "self-defeating habit." That changes a lot, doesn't it.
There will be no more years invested in AA meetings which may or may not work. There will be no more pricey 28-day stays at rehabs. There will be no more shame carried by the offenders. Instead they could embrace that they have developed a bad habit. The courts could mandate outpatient counseling on how to break that habit. Once the habit is broken, that could well be that. The courts will monitor the situation for a couple of years.
Outcomes, in terms of less excessive drinking, could improve. There could be a reduction in death, injury and property damage because of DUIs. Domestic violence could go down. Insurance companies could introduce new benefits to replace the rehab one. The nation's healthcare bill could downsize.
It's worth a few pilot programs.