Drug Detox Q & A: Do Ankle Bracelets Help In Battle Against Addiction?



07/25/2007

The recent rash of celebrity drunk driving arrests has brought international attention to the problems of alcohol abuse among the rich and famous. And it’s created a new celebrity of sorts, a high-tech booze-sniffing ankle bracelet called SCRAM – meaning Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor – most recently attached to the well-turned ankle of movie star Lindsay Lohan. The actress volunteered to wear the alcohol monitor temporarily while awaiting a court hearing after spending 45 days in alcohol detox and rehab.

SCRAM cannot be removed or cheated, according to its maker, Alcohol Monitoring Systems of Denver, CO. The bracelet samples an individual’s perspiration every hour and checks for alcohol consumption, using the same technology as the famed “Breathalyzer”. While SCRAM is usually used to monitor repeat, high-risk driving-under-the-influence (DUI) offenders, the system is also proving useful in managing domestic violence offenders and as a tool in family courts, says the company. It has also been helpful in tracking recovering alcoholics in various alcohol detox and rehab settings.

Lindsay Lohan’s stay at an expensive private resort-style alcohol detox and rehab facility doesn’t change the fact that she is just one of more than 1.4 million Americans busted for DUI across the country, many of whom need alcohol detox and rehab programs. And when she buckled on her SCRAM bracelet, Ms. Lohan joined nearly 36,000 other alcohol-restricted offenders that have already been monitored by SCRAM.

Despite a recent surge in publicity surrounding celebrity DUI cases, SCRAM isn’t just for the stars. It is widely used in more than 1,000 courts in 43 states. Across the country, more than 780,000 people are sentenced to community supervision each year – people caught up in the system who have fallen victim to alcohol abuse, addiction and dependence. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, an estimated 17.6 million Americans are dependent on or abuse alcohol, and alcohol abuse costs the U.S. $185 billion each year.

SCRAM weighs less than a can of beer, and locks snugly around the lower ankle. An infrared light detects if the wearer tries to remove it or slip something between the device and their skin. It measures body temperature and perspiration, and can detect if someone imbibes as little as one drink. It captures perspiration and calibrates blood-alcohol level once an hour. It can also be set to test every half-hour. Each evening, it sends the data through a modem to the home office in Denver, where drug court or alcohol detox and rehab supervisors around the country can view the results.

The need for alcohol detox and rehab programs is growing in America. Technological advances like SCRAM are helping in many ways. But the bottom line for alcohol abuse, addiction and dependence is still successful drug and alcohol detox and rehab programs that really get down to the bottom of why the person is drinking so they can quit.





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