Four people forwarded me the SFGate article on "chronic inebriants."
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...