DUI (or Driving Under the Influence) can result from either using alcohol or drugs, even prescription medications. Just ask Tiger Woods or one of the thousands of others every year that get stopped because their driving is erratic and/or dangerous. In fact, just ask me. My name is Andy, clean and sober for 9 years now, and I would like to share my consequences of being pulled over, arrested, charged, and then appearing before the presiding judge the day I was found guilty. An important word that. Guilty. I didn’t need a judge to tell me that. It’s what I felt the moment I saw the flashing lights behind me, it’s how I felt for years after, and, yes, I still do.

More importantly, I wish to share its effect on me. The ramifications of what happened that day, the consequences of it all that there was no escape from. It was an exceptionally stressful time for me, but it could have been so much worse. Could I have stopped in time in an emergency, could I have swerved to avoid a kid on his BMX or skateboard on the road? I still have that guilt. Yes, it was all my fault, with the reality admittedly more bearable than the endless tragic possibilities that still play on my mind.

I drank my first alcohol when I was 9, and smoked my first joint at 14. At 19, I did meth. Does that excuse me? No way. I know and understand that. My DUI, a year or so later, was, however, pivotal in me understanding I was no longer in control of my life. I was no longer in control of me. I was an addict. Thank God, I didn’t kill anyone that day. Maybe I saved someone too. Only time will tell.

This article is not my admission of guilt. That’s been done. This article is about how you can cope with the stress of the situation you have put yourself in. You may experience the massive impact such an event has on a family, or in your group of friends. You may also experience having your community turn their collective back on you, shun you, and act like you just don’t exist anymore. You may lose your job, and have to face up to the financial implications of it all. And, yes, the stress. That’s guaranteed.

So, I escaped prison. Just. It found me not long after, however, on a drugs charge. With a DUI, depending on the prosecution’s seriousness, there are a number of possibilities: compulsory attendance of alcohol or drug treatment, installation of an ignition interlock device on your vehicle, and, of course, jail time. To deal with your punishment, regardless of what that might be, you should consider these options anyway.

1. Alcohol / Drug Support Groups

Yes, groups like Alcoholics Anonymous. Most states will find this however dangerous the DUI charge and request a court order drug detox and relevant meetings. AA, for example, is local to everyone, and finding a meeting is easy. I can testify (no pun intended) that they are a great source of support in a tough time. They’ll also provide you with strategies about how you can move on from your conviction.

2. Therapy & Counselling

If you feel a support group such as AA is not the best fit for you, there are other options out there. For example, you can find a professional therapist or counselor to assist you with identifying hidden issues that have resulted in your conviction.

3. Family & Friends

Hopefully, your family and friends will be supportive of you at this time. My parents always had the attitude that we deal with problems together, and that had an enormous impact on my ability to cope back then. They became a great inspiration in finding the treatment that was right for me. Al-Anon or “open” AA meetings will provide your family and friends with the information they need to support you.

4. Familiar Haunts & Situations

Avoiding temptation is paramount at this point in your life. Forget the usual haunts of the past – look where they got you? Equally, avoid typical situations where drinking was the norm. AA or NA meetings will provide you with coping strategies when confronted by social occasions, and so give you the necessary confidence to avoid the obvious temptations.

5. Keep Busy

Simple but true. Keeping yourself busy and occupied is a great way to alleviate the stress you’re dealing with. Find new interests or hobbies that engage you in a right way. Additionally, regular exercise will make you feel healthier and ready to deal with whatever may come your way.

You Will Move On From This

Being charged with anything is stressful. A DUI charge will bring possible social and economic difficulties that you may not perceive right now. These 5 ways of coping with DUI stress – alcohol or drug support groups, therapy and counseling, family and friends, familiar haunts and situations, and keeping busy – can go some way in alleviating that stress if you pursue and engage in them.

Do you have any advice that you would like to share on this subject? Have you been charged with a DUI? How did you cope? Please feel free to share with a comment below. And stay safe.

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