Oxford seeks more federal money for DUI treatment program

Published 6:52 pm Tuesday, July 24, 2007

A DUI treatment program for University of Mississippi students could get more money from a bill that’s working its way through Congress, Oxford Mayor Richard Howorth says.

A $250,000 earmark for the BASICS intervention program at Ole Miss was included in a version of the 2008 Labor, Health and Human Services and Education appropriations bill that the House passed last week, said U.S. Rep. Roger Wicker, R-Miss.

The bill must still go through the Senate.

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Officials said BASICS — Brief Alcohol Screening and Intervention for College Students — is run by the university’s Department of Health Promotions with the Oxford Municipal Court. More than 600 students have gone through the program during the past two years.

“Of those, the recidivism rate is less than 4 percent, a statistic that makes us terribly eager to expand the program’s usefulness,” Howorth said in an application to Wicker’s staff.

Officials said BASICS is a three-step program involving an initial screening process to determine the cause of the student’s problem, followed by individual counseling and group discussion with other students. The program’s goal is to reduce the number of repeat offenders among students arrested for public drunk, minor in possession of alcohol and first-offense DUI.

Offending students pay a $200 fee, which the city court applies as credit to court fines. The additional funding would be about half of what the city requested.

Officials said the program needs a new, intensive outpatient component so students with alcohol problems wouldn’t have to drop out of school to enter an inpatient six-week program for treatment.

“One of the things we’d like BASICS to be able to do is reach out more to the community instead of just serving the students,” Howorth said.

He said it’s not yet clear how much the city and university would be able to do with the additional money.