Alcohol counselor: No punishment can cure a disease ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Alcohol addition counselor Kaja Heinsalu speaking in 2018.
Alcohol addition counselor Kaja Heinsalu speaking in 2018. Source: ERR

While those committing crimes should be punished, that punishment will not cure any disease, according to Kaja Heinsalu, an addiction treatment counselor who works with drink driving offenders. Heinsalu was speaking in the aftermath of weekend collision involving a drunk driver, which killed two women and a nine-month-old baby.

"When it comes to repeated drunk driving, my question with this extremely tragic story has been whether he has been helped in addition to receiving a punishment," Heinsalu, who advises first-time drink driving offenders who have been offered addiction treatment as an alternative to punishment, told ETV magazine show "Ringvaade".

Heinsalu is convinced that no punishment can cure addiction, but imprisonment, for example, can make a person seriously think that they have to do something about their alcohol problem.

"I think that a person must bear the punishment, but that punishment does not cure any disease.

I would not, as an addiction counselor, direct how long and what type of punishment should be given, but I am firmly of the mind that if we only punish, then when this person comes out, they then sit behind the wheel again and kill the next person on the road.

"When considering life imprisonment, it is clear that people will not be jailed for life for this type of thing."

"But no punishment cures any disease; why, then is addiction thought to be a disease and what does punishment cure?"

Police were notified at approximately 2:45 p.m. on Saturday that an Audi had crashed into a Volvo that had stopped in order to make a left turn at the 128th kilometer of Risti-Virtsu-Kuivastu Highway in the village of Masa, on Saaremaa. According to the police, the driver of the Audi was drunk, with an initial blood alcohol content (BAC) measured at 3.7 promilles.

The 27-year-old woman driving the Volvo and the two passengers, a 58-year-old woman and a nine-month-old baby, all died in the crash. The driver of the Audi and a 37-year-old woman who was a passenger in the Volvo were taken to the hospital for treatment.

The original "Ringvaade" segment (in Estonian) is here.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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