Despite the progress we have made reducing DUI fatalities over the years, the pandemic seemed to change our course in 2019 and we are still experiencing a dramatic increase in DUI deaths in 2022.

On New Years Eve 2021, 13 people died in DUI/DUID crashes on California roadways, a number 4 times higher than 2020.  As we enter the holiday season, there are 1,159 California families with an empty seat at the table as the result of the actions of an impaired driver.  Ironically, the days around a major holiday, when many impaired drivers hit the road, such as Thanksgiving (and Black Friday) as well as New Years, are considered particularly dangerous.

Despite the progress we have made reducing DUI fatalities over the years, the pandemic seemed to change our course in 2019 and we are still experiencing a dramatic increase in DUI deaths in 2022.  In 2020, 30% of all California traffic fatalities were related to drug and/or alcohol impairment.  

When we talk about these needless deaths, we tend to talk about numbers, not people. We look at solutions, such as the need for increased enforcement on our roadways, and more effective laws to deter impaired drivers.  However, arresting, and prosecuting repeat offenders does not change behaviors, you do.  It is estimated that 14,240,000 Americans have an alcohol use disorder. About 4% receive treatment for it. These individuals often suffer from trauma, depression and other mental health issues, inter-generational substance abuse, anti-social thinking, defensiveness and often, little motivation to change their lifestyle.

As treatment professionals, you are faced with the enormous challenge of addressing these behaviors. Your training and the relationship you establish with these individuals can be the beginning of the recovery process. The insights you provide to your clients may result in lifetime changes. Your compassion may open the door to clients trusting you in making hard decisions. Your actions have a ripple effect on entire families and communities. What you do matters! It saves lives!

You have the ability to impact change in the lives of these individuals and make their last DUI, their last DUI. As we celebrate the holidays and look toward the coming year, I hope you recognize your amazing impact on our communities. 

Thank you for what you do!

Happy holidays!

Mark

Mark Stodola Bio

As NHTSA’s Probation Fellow, Mark Stodola brings over 30 years of experience working in the field of court management and adult probation in Arizona. Mark worked at the Maricopa County Adult Probation Department for 18 years serving in several capacities including field supervisor and division director overseeing drug and alcohol treatment programs, problem solving courts and services for the mentally ill. Mark later became the Court Administrator of the Tempe Municipal Court where he served for eight years managing the day-to-day activities of the court including budget, case processing, program development (including the establishment of Arizona’s first municipal mental health court) and managing personnel. Most recently, Mark served as Program Services Manager in the Adult Probation Services Division of the Arizona Supreme Court where he had oversight of treatment programs for Arizona’s Adult Probation Departments. Mark received his undergraduate degree in History from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and his master’s degree in Education from Northern Arizona University. Mark became a Graduate Fellow through the National Council of State Courts Institute of Court Management. In his spare time Mark serves on several boards, including the CADTP Certification Board and is actively involved in community activities with his wife, Susan.

Mark Stodola

Dr. Jessica Rodriguez
LAADC-S, ICAADC, MAC, SUDCCIV-CS, BSP, CTRTC, CIP, CTP, CTS, FSS

Dr. Rodriguez was named the Executive Director of Gateway Corp in 2012.  Gateway Corp was developed as a non-profit, public charity and founded October 27, 2011. November 2014, she developed a clinical hub for Gateway Corp called OnSite Strategies. OnSite is also a United States Trademark.

She has held the position of CEO, Clinical Director, Lead Educator and Clinical Trainer as well as the Clinical Business Developer. She has fulfilled the roles of a clinical consultant, professional development consultant and has clinically supervised many SUD/addiction counselors, mental health professionals and addiction and family interventionists for over 12 years.

She has been active in the mental health field since 1995. She has also clinically trained throughout the US and provides clinical oversight for several organizations in California.

Dr. Rodriguez released her first book, “When the Rainbow Ends a Shadow from Heaven Appears" in 2017.” Her newest book, "The Cart, From Adversity to Collateral Beauty" is scheduled to be released in the Fall of 2022.

Dr. Rodriguez is currently a writer for Rapporteur Magazine. Her focus is about Mental Wellness also covered topics to include ACE's, trauma, anxiety, and Systemic Racism.

Adriana Popescu, Ph.D.

Dr. Adriana Popescu is a licensed clinical psychologist and empowerment coach with over 25 years of experience in the mental health field. She specializes in treating addictions and trauma, and has directed a number of treatment programs in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is the Founder and CEO of Firebird Healing, a trauma healing program, and the Clinical Director at Avery Lane, an innovative and holistic treatment program for women with co-occurring addiction and mental health disorders and trauma.

Adriana has contributed to a number of books, including TJ Woodward's Conscious Being Workbook, the Conscious Recovery for Addiction and Conscious Recovery for Mental Health Workbooks, and the Conscious Creation Workbook, all of which she co-authored with him.

She has a private practice in San Francisco and travels around the world speaking, coaching, and facilitating transformational and empowering workshops. She also hosts a fascinating podcast called Kaleidoscope of Possibilities – Alternative Perspectives on Mental Health.

Adriana loves to bring the most innovative and effective tools to her work, empowering people to overcome their imagined limitations, release their self-judgments, and discover the brilliance within – creating a life of infinite possibilities.

Her first book, “What If You’re Not as F*cked Up As You Think”, was released in October.

Aven Armstrong-Sutton, Ph.D(c), RSW

Clinical Services Manager at Kinark Child and Family Services

Aven L. Armstrong-Sutton has been a practicing licensed social worker for over a decade. With diverse experience in settings such as health promotion, foster care, youth homelessness, outpatient mental health & addictions, and student support services, Aven currently serves as a Clinical Services Manager at Kinark Child and Family Services, managing a Live-In-Treatment Program and three outpatient treatment programs. Maintaining a part-time private practice, Aven’s multidisciplinary and integrative approach focuses on trauma and resilience among under-served communities.

June Price Tangney, Ph.D

Dr. Tangney received her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from UCLA. She is currently University Professor and Professor of Psychology at George Mason. She is a Recipient of International Society for Self and Identity’s Distinguished Lifetime Career Award and Fellow of the Association of Psychological Science and of APA’s Division of Personality and Social Psychology.

Dr. Tangney is coauthor (with Ronda Dearing) of Shame and Guilt, coeditor (with Ronda Dearing) of Shame in the Therapy Hour, coeditor (with Jess Tracy and Richard Robins) of The self-conscious emotions: Theory and research, and coeditor (with Mark Leary) of the Handbook of Self and Identity. She has served as Associate Editor for Self and Identity, Consulting Editor for Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, Psychological Assessment, Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, and Journal of Personality, and is currently Associate Editor of American Psychologist.

Her research on the development and implications of moral emotions has been funded by NIDA, NICHD, NSF, and the John Templeton Foundation. Currently, her work focuses on moral emotions among incarcerated offenders. She draws on theory and research in psychology and criminology to develop novel interventions that leverage inmates’ moral emotions and prosocial values. A recipient of GMU’s Teaching Excellence Award, Dr. Tangney strives to integrate service, teaching and clinically-relevant research in both the classroom and her lab.

Christina Veselak, MS, LMFT, CN

Founder and Director of the Academy for Addiction and Mental Health Nutrition

Christina T. Veselak, MS, LMFT, CN, is the founder and director of the Academy for Addiction and Mental Health Nutrition, which teaches practitioners around the world how to use diet, along with amino acid and nutrient therapy, to help prevent cravings and recurrent drug use. She has been a licensed psychotherapist working in the SUD treatment field since 1985 and a certified nutritionist specializing in mental health and addiction recovery since 1993.

Sean Bezdek, LMFT, MBA

Sean is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with over 25 years of experience working in mental health and substance abuse settings, in inpatient, PHP, and private practice. He holds b a master’s degree in Marital and Family Therapy from Philips Institute and an MBA from Baker College.

Sean’s clinical practice has specialized in working with Personality Disorders, Couples, Adolescents, and individual suffering from chronic mental illness. As a clinician Sean enjoys working with clients who can be resistant to traditional treatment and believes in the philosophy of “You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make them drink. BUT you can feed them saltines to make them thirsty!”

Sean is the Program Director for Akua Mind Body’s Sacramento inpatient mental health program. His prior leadership experience includes oversight of acute inpatient, utilization management, hospice/palliative care, home health and skilled nursing. Sean’s approach to management is to ensure the work that needs to get done gets done. “Our job is patient care. This include everything from making coffee to running groups. There is not one person who is more important that the other when it comes to providing exceptional care to the clients we serve.”