STARKVILLE, MS —
STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi State University's alcohol safety program is among the nation's oldest intervention programs having been created in 1972.
The court-mandated, 12-hour program serves 10,000 first-time offenders a year.
Program coordinator Bill Henderson says with 52 schools in 42 locations statewide, most Mississippians do not have to drive more than 50 miles to attend the four-week course.
Participants must pay a $150 fee to participate and are not permitted to retrieve their suspended driver's licenses before to graduation.
Henderson says research shows the program has significantly lower rates of recidivism, or repeat offenders, compared to others across the country.
He said research and participants' input has enabled the classes to be tailored exactly to participant needs. And the curriculum has changed over the years to meet those needs.
"Back when MASEP was first started, it was thought most DUI offenders were just social drinkers," Henderson said. "Now, it's not just alcohol or illegal drugs, but prescription drugs, as well. So the curriculum has changed over time to keep up with this."
Also involved are measures to assess the frequency and amounts of alcohol consumption, binge drinking, other drug use and levels of psychiatric distress.
The assessments provide participants with more detailed feedback regarding the severity of their alcohol or drug use as well as any mental health issues that participants may be experiencing.
Participants are then informed of the mental health and substance abuse services available in their area. Treatment recommendations or referrals also are made,
Mississippi State Alcohol Safety Program, http://www.ssrc.msstate.edu/divisions/masep