August 3, 2022

From KELOLAND Local News

South Dakota is a testing ground for lawmakers and policy analysts seeking to reduce the effects of alcohol abuse, which kills more than 140,000 individuals nationally each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with an annual cost of nearly $250 billion due to lost work productivity and health care expenses. Since 24/7 Sobriety started in 2005, there have been more than 39,000 participants in South Dakota and nearly 12.5 million tests administered, with a pass rate of 98.8%, according to the attorney general’s office.

The next test for the program is to see if 24/7 Sobriety can catch on nationally. U.S. Rep. Dusty Johnson, R-South Dakota, is co-sponsoring bipartisan legislation to offer federal grants for states to adopt the intervention model, while also encouraging further study on its effects on drug and alcohol rehabilitation.

“I’m amazed at how ahead of its time South Dakota was,” said Johnson, who didn’t offer a timetable for when the bill might reach the House Judiciary Committee. “Now, most Americans understand that the best way to deal with addiction is not simply to throw someone in prison. Treatment and day-to-day accountability need to be a part of that journey. We’re talking about that every day in (Washington D.C.) now, but South Dakota was talking about it decades ago and put together a pretty robust program with pretty good outcomes.”

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