So, you’ve been charged with a DUI (driving under the influence). Now what? You may already find yourself dealing with the legal and financial consequences, but you may be concerned about your well-being. Maybe you’ve realized you have a drinking problem. In fact, maybe this isn’t the first DUI you’ve had. In the United States, it’s estimated that about 15 million people over age 18 have alcohol use disorder (AUD).

Getting a DUI can also stir up a lot of emotions. What’s important is that you know you need to make some changes. When you get a DUI, usually your driver’s license will be revoked for a specific period. To get your license back, you will usually be required to meet with a counselor who will determine whether or not you are struggling with alcohol abuse.

The counselor will make treatment recommendations based on their evaluation if they determine that you have a problem with alcohol. This may include entering a medical detox program, participating in an inpatient or an outpatient program, or attending a local 12-step support group.

Entering an addiction treatment program may also help to lessen your sentencing. Seeking out treatment on your own helps to communicate to the judge that you are serious about getting help. Plus, skills learned in an addiction treatment program will also help you to better manage stress and develop life skills that can help prevent relapse once you complete the program.

If you have decided you need to get help with an alcohol use disorder, there are many treatment options available. Some programs include help for a variety of substances and others are alcohol-specific. This article will walk you through both options. In some cases, you may receive court-mandated rehab. Read on to learn more about this scenario as well.

Finding Addiction Treatment After a DUI

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After you have decided to get treatment, the next step is deciding what kind. Addiction treatment is available on an outpatient or inpatient basis. Both options include detox, which is key to addiction treatment. This is a rather unpleasant, but necessary, process. Alcohol withdrawal can be particularly difficult and potentially cause serious withdrawal symptoms. Because of this, getting professional help through a medical detox program is key to a safe and successful recovery.

Once you move through the initial phase of detox, you can then move on to different levels of treatment. The most comprehensive form of treatment is what’s known as a full continuum of treatment. This type of treatment approach progresses gradually from the intensity of the medical detox process through further inpatient treatment or partial hospitalization (PHP) to intensive outpatient care (IOP).

After a patient has completed this spectrum of treatment, they become part of the treatment program alumni and can participate in further aftercare events. Being an active alumni member can provide important strength and support as you continue your recovery. It can be a vital way to build a social network with others who fully understand the recovery process.

Other programs may offer varying degrees of care. For example, you may choose to participate in an outpatient program in which you visit a treatment center a few times a week for therapy. Some programs include patients recovering from a variety of substance use disorders. Others may focus solely on recovering from alcohol use disorders.

You may choose to participate in a 12-step program instead of or in addition to other types of alcohol addiction treatment. Or you may continue with a 12-step program as part of your aftercare once you have completed a formal treatment program.

All of these options offer a variety of pros and cons and require different levels of commitment, to some degree. However, regardless of the program you choose, the ultimate commitment is the one you make with yourself to get healthy and move toward recovery.

How do you decide which type of treatment program is right for you? How can you find a treatment center after a DUI? There are several questions to consider when you’re thinking about what type of addiction treatment program is right for you. Some of the questions you may want to consider include:

  • Do I want to go into an alcohol-specific program or a more general program?
  • Do I want to go through a longer, more thorough full continuum treatment program or a shorter, outpatient-based program?
  • Do I have any co-occurring conditions or substance use disorders (also known as dual diagnosis)?
  • What addiction treatment options will my health insurance cover?
  • Are there any job concerns I need to consider when looking at my treatment options?
  • Are there certain locations that would be more suitable for me?
  • How often can I visit my family?
  • Am I interested in a 12-step program?
  • Is a faith-based treatment program important to me?

These questions will vary on an individual basis. It really comes down to what is important to you and what meets your needs. You may also need to take into account your health insurance and financial situation. Entering a program that supports your religious views or offers spiritual support may also be important to you.

Only you can answer many of these questions, perhaps along with input from your family and guidance from an admissions specialist. Whichever route you decide is right for you, there is a way to get the treatment you need.

Once you have an idea of the type of alcohol addiction treatment that would be right for you, it’s time to find a program. Finding a treatment program after a DUI may seem intimidating or overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. In some cases, you won’t have the option to choose a program. Rather, the judge may require you to attend a specific program. There’s more information on that route below.

If you can choose your program, you may want to consult with your attorney to see if they recommend a particular program or know of a program(s) that a specific judge or prosecutor is likely to prefer.  In addition to the questions listed above, there are a few other considerations you’ll want to think about when deciding on a treatment program, including:

  • Is the program accredited? Judges often prefer state-accredited programs.
  • Will the program cooperate with the court system? The program you select must be willing to send periodic progress reports to the court or your probation officer.
  • Is the program’s staff licensed and certified? Do they have experience treating individuals with AUDs? These are important questions in general.
  • Is the program a luxury treatment program? If so, be sure to discuss this with your attorney as it’s possible the judge or prosecutor may have an issue with it.

Court-Mandated Rehab

While a person can be charged with a DUI in all 50 states if they have a blood-alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 or higher, each state has its own laws and penalties for DUI convictions. These penalties may include fines, jail time, community service, random drug and alcohol testing, and court-mandated rehab, among others.

Again, seeking help from a professional addiction treatment program before your trial or sentencing sends the message that you are serious about getting help. Always discuss this with your attorney as they may have program recommendations.

Court-mandated treatment may include certain requirements, such as:

  • Community service
  • Specific types of addiction therapy
  • Attending a 12-step program or a particular number of 12-step meetings
  • Random drug testing


A DUI can be a stressful experience. But it also can be an opportunity to make important changes in your life and get the help you need for alcohol use disorder. Ask questions and evaluate programs using the questions above to help you find the pathway to recovery that’s right for you.

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