“It’s been the most devastating thing that’s happened to me.” Michael says, “Ironically, when I lost my daughter I'd been working in behavioral health for a few years and as a substance abuse and DUI/DWI educator it made moving forward both difficult and make more sense than ever. I knew my path to healing was to find a better way to engage and involve the offender because that’s how I felt we were going to reduce the odds of them driving impaired ever again.”
According to MADD.org, “About one-third of all drivers arrested or convicted of drunk driving are repeat offenders.”
Michael says his first goal for engagement was to rebrand the required DUI education experience from something seen as a costly, time consuming punishment to something seen as an investment opportunity for self-improvement. From something that would be taken begrudgingly, and the lessons taught not truly taken to heart to a self-reflecting experience that fundamentally changes the way the individual thinks about life and their role in it.
“I don’t think people wake up one morning and decide that’s the day they’re going out to get a DUI.” He adds, “Instead, for some, I believe it’s a matter of either an ongoing addiction, or a matter of falling into a sort of autopilot mode of thinking that we, as adults, tend to find ourselves in as life’s happening around us.”
Self-Preservation came about as a concept while trying to survive the fallout of his loss. He knew Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) had been building awareness for decades and that the legal system was set up to fine and punish the offender, both through the courts and the motor vehicles departments, in ways that most would never want to offend again – because of the time and cost they are subject to. But there's a reason why there are second and third offense laws on the books.
“I started by incorporating best practices with the practice-based evidence I'd obtained working with the demographic. Right away I knew becoming better aware of ourselves as a 'whole person' was the key and quickly saw my two-pronged approach begin to breakdown resistance as both substance abuse and DUI clients reported quantified improvements in there lives and an increased desire for both attending group sessions and engaging in the group process. Seeing these positive results across the board was both satisfying as a professional, and comforting as a grieving father on a mission.”
Michael sees Self-Preservation as more than a substance abuse workbook, “It’s a life skills program that helps foster a more self-aware, self-reliant, self-regulating, and self-preserving lifestyle in those working towards recovery, while also allowing enough character building, self-reflecting, educational and life skills material that it truly resonates with the DUI and DWI offender’s whole life, not just their current charge.”
“I just want the opportunity to share this exciting process with anyone either charged with a DUI/DWI or working through an addiction. I feel further reducing recidivism and saving more lives starts by sharing this incorporative philosophy with those responsible for providing the DUI and substance abuse education. I know it’s too late to save my daughter, but it’s not too late to save yours.”
Michael Esser has been writer and educator for 19 years, with a focus on behavioral health for the last seven years. He’s currently working for TASC Inc. in Kingman, Arizona as a clinician and is a member of the Mohave County Adult Drug Court team, the area Heroin Overdose Prevention Education team, and the Arizona Association of Drug Court Professionals where he was awarded the annual 2016 Commitment to Excellence Award.
For more information, contact Michael Esser directly at: 928 279-2865 or to order the Self-Preservation workbook visit: SelfPreservation.info
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