Monday, August 24, 2009

beth + kenny + 2008 = probably a really good time...

Four people forwarded me the SFGate article on "chronic inebriants."
Four.
I've noticed in the past 9 months (new AA keychain. yay!) that on occasion, I'm the resident drunk expert. Got a question about a cocktail? Got a friend who likes the sauce? Got an opinion about an article? Apparently, I'm your drunk expert.
I think it's my penance for discussing my courageous struggle on the internet and truth be told, I'm perfectly fine with it. It's just a lot of responsibility. I mean, what the hell do I know?
Apparently, the City and County of San Francisco has been paying up to $150,000 annually for each chronic drunk. Not necessarily homeless, these folks spend all day every day getting wasted and needing various and sundry city programs to get them to tomorrow.
I guess the question the article raises is, really? $150,000 per deadbeat?
As a former and hopefully not future deadbeat, and since I feel slightly obligated to give you occasional sober updates, here are my thoughts:
1. If there's one thing they shove down your throat in rehab, other than STOP, is that addiction is a medical problem. Many a "group" was spent on this topic, half of us justifying our substance abuse by defining it as a medical problem, the other half wallowing in self-loathing and blaming their lack of self-control. According to either "Counselor Pat" or "Counselor Jim", 1 in 6 or 1 in 10 people have the addiction gene. And if you have it, you're pretty much screwed. I'm still torn on this. I certainly have guilt about becoming an alcoholic. I'm also amazed at how some people, most people, can have 2 glasses of wine and be done. I cannot. Even thinking about it now seems ridiculous. And in using alcohol to get myself through some rather trying times, I found I simply could not stop. Drinking was no longer optional. There was one guy in my group, which sadly was called the Blue Group, who was convinced this was all his fault and spent 28 days trying to convince the rest of us it was all our fault too. He didn't leave his bedroom for 2 years and his family had their intervention via phone from his living room, 10 feet away. Sounds pretty goddamn medical to me.
2. I had advantages most people don't have. Not everyone, and certainly few people passed out in your doorway, have parents able to support them emotionally and financially. I believe my parents actually got frequent flier miles for the funding of my residential treatment. They also held my hand and sat through family training classes and live 30 minutes away in a house that now possesses an unending supply of Diet Coke and fancy cheese. I have friends who will show up in the middle of the night to sleep over and friends with a Devine guestroom available to me whenever I need the safety of their home and their cable and their pugs. I have a job with a boss who is incredibly supportive and encouraging not to mention reassuring about the security of my paycheck and my health insurance. I have friends who loved me enough and liked me enough to see how much trouble I was in and ask me to get help.
I'm willing to bet that "Kenny" doesn't have access to this. Or if he ever did, he drank those opportunities a long time ago. It's all very Lifetime Afternoon Movie.
Anyway, this municipal issue hits a little close to home for me. The drunks are my people. That dude in the doorway is my peer. The biggest lesson I've learned, continue to learn and obviously have a lot left to learn is humility. You spend your Thanksgiving in rehab on a hallway payphone with your brother while squeezing cranberry sauce out of a packet and choreographing a dance routine with a 55 year old crack addict/prostitute whose grandkids won't speak to her. That experience has given me a new perspective on Kenny and his ilk, who, whether due to genetics or character flaws, are my ilk as well.
So what are we supposed to do with Kenny? Beats me. What the hell do I look like? Paul Hogarth? But isn't this just one more person stuck in the system, booze or not? I don't think his beer habit should make him any less of our problem.
There's my opinion which is worth exactly what you paid for it, which is less than you're paying for Kenny.
And also, one last time, 9 months motherfuckers!!! Le Club Shirley Temples on me...

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

I was going to mention this before and decided against it, but even Google considers you an expert on rehab. Just enter "beth spot" and see what the suggested searches are. You're famous for two things. :)

Spots said...

I know! I don't know what level of appalled to be on that one.
Someone in France recently googled "Beth Spotswood off the wagon" which I thought was kind of glamorous in a wildly offensive way. So, uh, fuck you France...

Evan said...

Thank you Beth for once again being brave and honest about this part of your life. It makes for really good reading and my crush on you grows.
The sweater from you last video might have something to do with that ;)

Be_Devine said...

Congrats Bethy, I couldn't be more proud of what you've accomplished! And we, the guest room, the pugs, the endless Bethtini's and cookies are always waiting for you at the Devibitz house.

Fredo said...

Beth,
Thank you for posting this.

I struggle with the issue, and have been struggling with my urge to judge (what can I say, I come from a family of addicts). I appreciate your candor on the topic.

Anonymous said...

Awesome post, Beth. And nine months. Beautiful. U.T.

Brittney said...

"I had advantages most people don't have..."

I dunno, you've got the humility thing down pretty pat.

Love this post.

Anonymous said...

So 9 months later, how are people reacting? Have your friends changed? Who's been an asshole is basically what I'd like to know.

Spots said...

Eh, no one's really been an asshole. This experience has taught me, however, who's going to show up at your house with a casserole when someone dies and who's going to avoid you because they don't know what to say. There's a little group of those that "don't know what to say."
Interestingly, I know exactly what to say to them.
Overall, people are wonderfully and unexpectedly awesome. No one who was my friend in October isn't my friend now. At least no one that's not a bartender...

Holden said...

Congratulations on 9 months! An espresso cup clink to nine more!

Anonymous said...

I am guiltily raising my hand as one who did not know what to say. It is clear to me now that all I had to say was "Rock on, Spotswood" which is what I've been thinking this whole time anyway.
Please see your inbox.

Love, Adam

Anonymous said...

You did not break the law. Kenny does.

tangobaby said...

Once again, I love how willing you are to share and explain the world as seen through your eyes. I'll treat you to a Shirley Temple any day of the week.

sfmike said...

I think your compassion for Kenny is wonderful and inspiring. I certainly don't have any. And I love that you're a rehab star on the internets in France. Now that truly is infamy.

Anonymous said...

I don't think you realize how brave this is. It's incredible that you give us this and I am very grateful.

Melissa said...

That person in France can suck it! You are so much stronger than people know! 9 months? You should get a small sobriety charm in the shape of a baby to wear around your neck.

Mousqueton said...

Dear Beth:
From the reading of the comments I am positive that Kenny does not have a number of readers, many of whom I am sure you have never met, that are genuinely concerned about your well being and further, who seem to love you.

I know because I am one of them!!

As for Kenny; all I can say is that I have lived my life very intensely. I have seen and done things that most people only learn about in the movies. After all those experiences I have come to believe that there are five things that I regard as absolute truths.
1) Change, at every level, is an absolute certainty. Everything changes and will continue to change.
2) You never give up on life; be it yours or the life of others.
3) You never give up on the weak, on those who are in need or those incapable of taking care of themeselves.
4) Every person is themselves and their circumstance. If you change their circumstance you change the person.
5) Love is a one way street so do not expect anything back. If you do, it is not love.
Kenny and for that matter, all the Kenny's deserve help regardless of any other consideration.
P.D. Congratulations and many more happy anniversaries

Bill said...

Roger Ebert's latest blog essay is on AA, and is wonderfully moving and loving, as are the bulk of the comments. Many folks looking for help, many realizing they should seek help.

http://blogs.suntimes.com/ebert/2009/08/my_name_is_roger_and_im_an_alc.html

ps: re: the "If you're going to talk smack, don't be lame and anonymous..." tag on your comments form -- I assume that if someone's in the program, all the have to do is not be lame.

Anonymous said...

Beth, I really got a lot out of this post. Thank you for your honesty. I share a lot of similarities with you, age, background, etc from what I read and I identify with a lot of what you say. I am doing the non-AA route and so far, its been pretty good but because of that, I don't have many people to talk to about it. Reading your blog really does help. Thanks.