Issue # 72 - October/November/December 2012

Welcome back after one of our longest hiatuses since we began in August 2004. Until the Petraeus Affair, there wasn’t anything that struck us as worthy of Top Story, and the other juicy news tidbits were rather spread out over the last few months as the election stayed in the headlines. As usual, however, to the extent that the media reported on events related to addiction, we show they don’t have a clue about the genesis of most newsworthy items in its coverage. In addition, we got pretty busy planning for Roth conversions and other year-end tax strategies (which you can read about at, and call us about if they intrigue you).

As a reminder, Alcoholism Myths and Realities is now available as an e-book either on amazon or IPG in multiple formats; we're working on the others.

Enjoy the latest Thorburn Addiction Report!

Welcome to the Thorburn Addiction Report in which we interpret the news through the lens of alcohol and other drug addiction. Each month, we bring you several sections, including:

1. Top Story of the month along with runners up, persons under watch, enablers, disenablers and more
2. Review or Public Policy Recommendation of the month
3. Dear Doug in which a recent letter to "Dear Annie" or other "help" column is rewritten, with responses given from the unique perspective that alcohol or other drug addiction best explains the misbehaviors described
4. Alcoholic Myth-of-the-Month
5. Alcoholic Antic-of-the-Month, usually where someone deserves the Darwin Award, but lived.

There is something for everyone!

Addiction Report Archives here

© 2012 by Doug Thorburn

The blog is open to your comments. We’ll be interested in any thoughts you, our loyal readers, may have.

Books Here

Gen. David Petraeus’ Biographer Paula Broadwell and Socialite-Friend Jill Kelley:
Possible Alcoholics are Enmeshed in Positions of Power

The story is worthy of a soap opera or “The Real Housewives of New Jersey”: a highly respected General (also former director of the CIA) has a 10-month affair with a woman who, becoming obsessed with him, sends another woman, who she believes is flirting with him, threatening emails. Most people probably think, “it’s not real,” or “whatever.” However, there’s a lot more to this story, which should be taken very seriously by concerned citizens because it’s all-too real—and its likely genesis is all-too common.

A core theme of my work, from Drunks, Drugs & Debits (which we are selling to subscribers for $1 each plus shipping costs through January 31, 2013; email to Alcoholism Myths and Realities and this Report, is that addiction-aware observers can spot alcoholism-induced misbehaviors long before addictive use is ever proven. We can do this because alcohol and other-drug addiction causes distortions of perceptions and memory, as well as egomania. Very high odds of addiction can be ascribed when seemingly idiotic or unnecessarily risky behaviors are observed (caused by distortions of perception and memory), or when unethical or criminal acts are evident (as egomania compels the addict to attempt to wield inappropriate or capricious power over others). Another theme pervasive in my works stipulates that where we observe behaviors indicative of addiction, for our own safety as well as that of others we must assume its presence: addicts are capable of anything. Whenever we see “soap opera,” “obsessed” and “threatening,” we should look for addiction. In this case we find evidence for it in spades, even if we don’t have absolute proof.

Not everyone involved in these types of stories is an addict; non-addicts occasionally engage in unethical behaviors. General David Petraeus, 60, engaged in at least a modicum of such misbehaviors—he committed adultery. However, misbehaviors must be more evident to ascribe high odds of addiction. Such behaviors are apparent in the case of Petraeus’ biographer Paula Broadwell, 40—she became obsessive, possessive and threatening, committed adultery with a man 20 years her senior (she’s married to radiologist Scott Broadwell), appears arrogant, and seems prone to bragging about if not exaggerating her qualifications (as one columnist put it, “Margaret Thatcher once noted that if you had to tell people you were a lady, you probably weren’t”). Further, such misbehaviors utterly fill the lives of socialite Jill Kelley, 37, her husband surgeon Scott Kelley, MD and Jill’s twin-sister lawyer Natalie Khawam.

Jill Kelley’s contact with the FBI about allegedly hostile, graphic and threatening emails she received from Broadwell sparked the investigation that brought the Petraeus-Broadwell affair to light. Ironically, she also brought a lot of attention to her own misbehaviors. The Kelleys’ current residence, a palatial Tampa, Florida $1.8 million home has been in foreclosure since 2010 and Bank of America claims the Kelleys haven’t made a payment since 2009. They appear at some point to have taken equity out, since they owe more than $1.7 million on a home purchased for $1.5 million in 2004. A downtown Tampa office building, on which they owe $2.2 million, has also been in foreclosure since 2010. In 2010, Chase sued the Kelleys over the failure to pay a $25,000 revolving credit card debt while Regions Bank sued them over failure to pay $253,000 in credit card bills. All told, Jill and/or Scott Kelly have been the subject of at least nine lawsuits since they moved to Florida in 2004.

Financial distress is not uncommon after a real estate crash (Florida was especially devastated), which can bring down sober and non-sober individuals alike. The foreclosures by themselves do not give high odds of psychotropic drug addiction (psychotropic drugs are those capable of causing distortions of perception and memory in susceptible individuals); however, Dr. Kelley is apparently a well-known surgeon and, presumably, earns an excellent living. Lawsuits combined with financial distress in high income earners dramatically up the odds of substance addiction. Further, the fact that even under scrutiny the Kellys continue to live the life of Riley , remain in a home for which they are not paying and, until recently, held lavish parties for military brass give compelling odds that addiction explains (but does not excuse) the behaviors in one or both of the them. Additional clues are plentiful, even if they are unnecessary at this point for confirming very high odds of addiction.

There was only one tax filing (2007) for the Doctor Kelley Cancer Foundation, a non-profit listing only Jill Kelley, Scott Kelley and Natalie Khawam as trustees. The foundation, dedicated to “efforts to discover ways to improve the quality of life of terminally ill cancer patients,” listed $43,000 in meals and entertainment, $8,800 in travel, $25,000 in legal fees, nearly $9,000 in auto and $3,700 in office-related expenses even though the non-profit had no employees and was based in their palatial home. CharityWatch analyst Laurie Styron concluded, “The charity did not report that any of the…expenses were related to granting wishes to terminally ill adult cancer patients, as was its mission. With only three people on the charity’s board, two of them husband and wife, there was not enough independent oversight in place to ensure proper or efficient use of funds.” This smacks of incredibly poor judgment or, worse, fraud, the former of which is more common to addicts than non-addicts and the latter of which is the near-exclusive domain of alcohol and other-drug addicts.

The odds that psychotropic drug addiction explains one’s life are dramatically increased by seemingly trite misbehaviors. While there is no evidence of the Kelleys making derogatory remarks about others, which has proven on numerous occasions to be a great first clue to addiction, a sign company, Signs Now of Carollwood, sued them over $2,200 in unpaid invoices for a huge banner advertising “executive suites” at their downtown office building. The Kelleys disputed the charge to their American Express card because the sign company submitted the charge under a name they didn’t recognize. When the company told them American Express had denied payment, the Kelleys told them to use the American Express Card dispute process to resolve the matter rather than fixing it themselves. Craig Lewis, the son of the sign company owner, observed, “That’s the loophole they tried to use. They owned a huge office building downtown. He’s a doctor, and she described herself as a socialite….How could this be a big deal to them?” Mr. Lewis, addicts revel in wielding power over others, even over relatively tiny things. If neither is an alcohol or other-drug addict, it makes no sense. If either or both are, all of their behaviors make sense, including accusing Signs Now of trespassing on their property to repossess the signs after Signs Now had called them weekly asking for payment for nearly three months. In court documents, the Kelleys claimed “The taking of the signs created a scene and breached the peace.” The judge, however, not only ruled against the Kelleys, but ordered them to pay the $2,200 plus interest.

Jill’s sister Natalie Khawam has exhibited behavior even more outrageous. Despite earning income of more than $300,000 in both 2010 and 2011, she filed for bankruptcy in April 2012, listing more than $3 million in debt, including $600,000 to a St. Petersburg, Florida man, $53,000 to the IRS and an $800,000 personal loan from Jill and Scott Kelley, with whom she now lives. She listed $694 in savings; it’s “unclear” where all that money has gone. In a custody battle over whether Khawam was fit to parent her 4-year-old son, the head of the CIA and U.S. Marine Corps four-star Gen. John R. Allen, praised Khawam for her “maturity, integrity and steadfast commitment to raising her child.” After her husband tried to get custody, Khawam began filing domestic violence allegations. The court disagreed over Ms. Khawam’s “maturity” and “integrity,” finding the accusations were “ever-expanding,” “sensational,” and “so extraordinary, and…so distorted that they defy any common sense view of reality.” After a litany of hearings and psychological evaluations the judge wrote, “Ms. Khawam appears to lack any appreciation or respect for the importance of honesty and integrity in her interactions with her family, employers, and others with whom she comes in contact….The court fully expects that Ms. Khawam’s pattern of misrepresentations about virtually everything, including the most important aspects of her life, will continue indefinitely.” The judge also wrote she displayed a “willingness to say anything, even under oath, to advance her own personal interests at the expense of others.” It’s doubtful that many judges have called out an attorney as, essentially, a quintessential liar, or that many Generals have ever come to the defense of such a person. This alone places General Allen under scrutiny for possible alcoholism. In addition, according to court documents, Gen. Allen lives an extravagant lifestyle that conceals “mountains of money owed to banks and credit card companies,” further increasing his odds of addiction. Further, the Pentagon is looking into 20,000 to 30,000 pages of possible “inappropriate communication” between him and Jill Kelley (“email-itis” is a modern form of “telephonitis”—addicts controlling others via continuous phoning—clue # 22 in the chapter “A Supreme Being Complex” in How to Spot Hidden Alcoholics). So, we have Khawam engaging in false accusations, enabled by a General who lives extravagantly while seemingly risking bankruptcy, carrying on with Khawam’s married sister. This appears to be a tangled web of addicts doing all they can to enable one another.

Moreover, Khawam had blown through four jobs in five years and had three failed engagements before marrying and then leaving her new husband. Serial jobs and failed engagements are each powerful clues to alcoholism; together they are compelling evidence. In one of her stints, she worked as a lawyer at the Tampa law firm Cohen, Foster and Romine and, after leaving, accused and sued the firm’s business consultant for sexual harassment. The firm’s founder, Barry Cohen (whose firm has also been sued by surgeon Scott Kelley), presented a “giant” stack of evidence accusing Khawam of fraud, in this case involving an apparent false accusation. In attempting to serve a subpoena on Khawam, Cohen’s process server noted that although four cars were in the driveway of the Kelleys’ home, with whom Khawam had by this time moved in, no one would answer the door. Several people came and went but wouldn’t say who they were; none would accept the papers. When a black SUV pulled in to the driveway, blocking his way out, and two men climbed out (apparently in menacing fashion) the server called 911. After he was told they were FBI agents, Jill Kelley came out of the home, screaming that the process server had assaulted her guests and employees. It appears that both sisters wield power via false accusations, the near-exclusive domain of alcoholics.

On another occasion, after complaining about reporters and asking Tampa police for help with trespassers and cameramen blocking access to her home, Kelley didn’t just act like an alcoholic—she sounded like she was under the influence. Speaking to a 911 dispatcher: “You know, I don’t know if by any chance, because I’m an honorary consul general, so I have involability [sic], so they should not be able to cross my property. I don’t know if you want to get diplomatic protection involved as well.” Aside from the fact that she made little sense, she engaged in hyperbole, as her “honorary” status invokes no special privileges and she is not actually a diplomat. Hyperbolic statements by media magnate Ted Turner were my first clue to his addiction.

Guide to Misbehaviors

Behavioral Clue to Addiction Odds of Addiction* Name
General David Patreaus Paula Broadwell Jill and/or Scott Kelley Natalie Khawam General John R. Allen
Adultery** 50%



Sexual relationship with a 20-year+ age difference** 30%



Extremely possessive of lover 30%


Makes threats 50%




Arrogant 50%




Brags and exaggerates about oneself 50%


Spends other people's money with abandon 60%




Deeply in debt*** 60%




Involved in numerous lawsuits 70%



Brings frivolous lawsuits 70%



Well known, high income with financial distress 80%




Lavish/extravagent lifestyle 50%




Doesn't pay one's bills 60%



Possible fraudulent charitable foundation 80%



Engages in trite misbehaviors 80%



Blows a lot of money with no apparent explanation 60%



Lies under oath 80%


Lies repeatedly (under oath or not) 80%



Makes false accusations 80%



Engages in email-itis** 50%





Repeatedly blows through jobs, engagements, and/or marriages 50%


Appears drunk in public during the daytime 90%+


Engages in hyperbole 50%



* Estimated odds of alcohol/other-drug addiction for any one behavior. To calculate the odds of addiction in any one person after the first alcoholic behavior is observed, as described in Drunks, Drugs & Debits: multiply the odds of any additional behaviors by the remainder percent and add to the previous percentage. Estimated odds cap out at 80% without proof of addictive use.

** Estimated odds of addiction in one party or the other; one may be codependent-victim.

***Estimated odds that either the person under scrutiny is an addict, or has been severly affected by one.

We can’t identify addiction in someone just because of who they hang out with. However, birds of a feather often flock together, especially when those birds are addicted ones. Ms. Khawam’s financial misbehaviors are not only beyond the pale, they make the tragic tales of financial abuse of others reported in Drunks, Drugs & Debits appear relatively benign. The odds that addiction explains her behaviors are not only exceedingly high, they are a textbook case. Identical twins share genes; studies have shown that when one has the disease the odds of addiction in the other are at least 50% (and there’s good reason to believe those studies are simply missing the rest). It’s crucial to keep in mind, too, that we give those who engage in misbehaviors the benefit of the doubt by assuming addiction to alcohol and/or other drugs and not other behavioral problems. While numerous characters in this scandal exhibit behaviors indicative of addiction, their closeness to the highest levels of power doesn’t contradict the possibility: as explained elsewhere they add to it. Due to the risk of blackmail (which no one is alleging), it also increases the odds that national security could be compromised. Aside from their relationships with Gen. Petraeus and Gen. Allen, Jill Kelley and Natalie Khawam ate breakfast at the White House on September 28 and lunch on October 24, mere weeks before Petraeus resigned after admitting to the extramarital affair. What better way to wield power over friends, family and co-workers than by getting close to a man like Gen. David Petraeus, not to mention the President? If we’re correct in diagnosing substance addiction in the other players, Petraeus, whose reputation will be forever tarnished, will end up as one in a long list of tragic non-addicted victims of alcoholism.

Runners Up for Top Story:

Software millionaire John McAfee, 67, who sold his anti-virus Internet security company in 1994, apprehended in Guatemala after his Belizean neighbor, Florida restaurateur and builder Gregory Viant Faull, 52, was murdered execution-style. Belizean authorities claim they simply want to question McAfee, but they likely believe he killed Faull after a long-running feud boiled over into the poisoning of McAfee’s dogs, for which McAfee blames Faull. Considering the fact that the heavily tattooed and reportedly paranoid McAfee is known for violent behavior, engages in odd sexual proclivities, keeps at least a half dozen under-25-year-old girlfriends and has long been suspected of psychotropic drug use (including “bath salts,” an extremely dangerous drug related to methamphetamine), addictionologists wouldn’t be surprised if he is responsible for Faull’s murder. His dogs may contain proof of his guilt: after he found them poisoned, he told a girlfriend he put them out of their misery by shooting and burying them. Authorities recently dug up the dogs to see if the bullets match those in Faull’s head.

Eight members of the Forbidden Ones, the Dirty Ones and the Trouble Makers, biker gangs whose members average age 51, arrested and charged with firearms trafficking. Undercover officers bought 41 firearms, thousands of rounds of ammo and a full-sized cast-iron cannon as part of a two-year undercover sting; the gangs sold the weapons out of tattoo parlors they controlled in Brooklyn and Queens. The cannon was fully operational and parked at the front door of the Forbidden Ones’ clubhouse ready to be fired at infiltrators. Members wore “bangout patches,” an emblem of two handguns crossing, as a badge of honor for assaulting NYPD cops. Four of the eight arrested were too sick to make their arraignment and were instead admitted to a hospital. Two of them needed heroin detox; another, Scott Brannigan, 61, complained of high blood pressure and a bad heart. Agents found several improvised explosive devices, 20 guns, 2,000 envelopes of heroin and a couple of ounces of cocaine and marijuana inside Brannigan’s home—where his wife—are you ready?—operated a day care center. It’s nice to know that, as Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch put it, “Violent biker gangs are not outside the reach of the law no matter how many patches or tattoos they wear.” Or even if they operate day care centers inside their homes, filled with weapons and drugs.

Under watch:

In an early 2009 piece on white collar crime, The Economist magazine mentioned something those who have read my books would predict: “Many [Club Fed and other white collar] prisoners suddenly discover, post-conviction, that they had a drinking problem….” I would add that those who don’t figure this out might benefit from greater introspection. In the spirit of The Economist’s discovery, recent stories follow for which the evidence of alcoholism is in the behaviors themselves.

Former city of Bell, California police chief Randy Adams, whose attempt to more than double his yearly pension to $510,000 was rejected by administrative law judge James Ahler, who determined it was never properly approved by the Bell City Council. Adams ran the tiny police department for barely a year, but his extraordinary annual salary of $457,000, far higher than either the Los Angeles police chief or the police commissioner of New York City, put him in a position to more than double his retirement pension. Ahler said that keeping Adams’ contract secret was part of a plan to hide city salaries, spear-headed by former City Administrative Officer Robert Rizzo and former assistant administrator Angela Spaccia, whose names graced these pages in issues # 56 and # 57. While we got lucky in being able to prove Rizzo’s alcoholism—he was popped for a DUI a few months before the Bell scandal broke, which at 55 years of age virtually confirms alcoholism—we haven’t been as lucky with Adams. However, consider: (1) he may have taken part in a conspiracy to hide salaries, (2) he more than doubled his salary after leaving the city of Glendale, California, which is six times the size of Bell, (3) he exhibited extraordinary greed at taxpayers’ expense by squeezing the purse strings of the much-lower income residents of Bell, and (4) he asserted his 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination an astounding 20 times during the hearing. This all suggests a need to wield power over others in capricious fashion, which would be best explained by long-standing alcoholism.

Los Angeles County Assessor John Noguez, accused of accepting bribes to reduce assessed valuations of properties represented by property tax consultant Ramin Salari, along with a top deputy of Noguez, Mark McNeil and a lower-level assessor’s office employee, Scott Schenter, all facing numerous corruption charges. Since the ongoing case (no one has been convicted—yet) involves bureaucrats and crapitalists, we will likely never get proof of psychoactive drug addiction in any of them. However, the behaviors of which they are accused (and for which the evidence seems overwhelming) speak loudly. In the meantime, Noguez is on paid leave and continues to collect his $197,637 yearly salary at taxpayers’ expense.

Alcoholic victim of the month:

Catherine Davis, 81, who was bludgeoned to death by actor Johnny Lewis just before Lewis, 28, either jumped or fell to his death from the roof or balcony of Davis’s two-story home. Lewis, who had a long history of drug addiction, was arrested at least four times this year on various charges of burglary and battery. Only on the third arrest was he ordered into a 30-day outpatient program for addicts, but was likely not ordered to undergo random and regular drug testing, which might have saved both lives. Davis died of blunt head trauma and had been strangled; her cat was also killed. Because there were two reported instances in which victims fought back and Lewis reportedly “didn’t even blink” despite being hit repeatedly in the head in one case and “not phased by any blows” in another, we might suspect his drug of choice was either meth, PCP or bath salts. Oddly, the coroner found no drugs in his system—but that doesn’t mean there weren’t any. More likely, they didn’t test for every possible drug. On the other hand, if he was sober there is a high probability his extensive drug use triggered a latent mental illness, although such illnesses rarely cause the afflicted to become so violent.

Codependent retrospective find of the month:

“Survivor” competitor Dana Lambert told her mother she was hooked on amphetamines and asked for a rather unusual 21st birthday gift: a stay in rehab. Her stunned mother asked: “you’ve got a problem with drugs?” This lack of awareness, even in close family members, is not uncommon. A great example involves “Full House” child star Jodi Sweetin: she grew up and was married to an LAPD cop for five years, two of which she was a  full-on methamphetamine addict. The cop husband didn’t have a clue. Codependents, including parents, are frequently unaware of addiction in friends, co-workers and even family members. Dana, now 32, spent 28 days in rehab and has reportedly been sober since.

Quote of the month:

“I tell lottery winners five things to protect themselves:

  1. Don’t tell anyone you won. If you can collect the money anonymously, do so.
  2. Stop and think for a minute before rushing down to collect the check.
  3. Don’t take the lump sum payment. Take the money over time instead.” Etc.

So writes financial guru Don McNay. However, he leaves out one giant point: “Get sober.” While he notes that about 90% of lottery winners run through their winnings in five years or less, he fails to connect the dots between the largely mathematically-impaired down-on-their “luck” lotto players and alcohol/other-drug addiction. The latest victim of her own excess: Amanda Clayton, who after winning a million-dollar lottery was convicted of collecting state welfare money, and is now dead at age 25 from a drug overdose. McNay writes, “Like so many lottery losers, Amanda made the first big mistake when she won the lottery: she let the world know she won.” Sorry Mr. McNay; her first mistake was taking her first drink, hit or snort.

Retrospective find of the month:

Rickie Lee Fowler, who in 2008 was accused of setting the catastrophic 2003 “Old Fire” that destroyed 1,000 homes and blackened thousands of acres in the San Bernardino Mountains that led to five deaths, convicted and sentenced to death. Deputy District Attorney Robert Bullock noted that Fowler, a violent methamphetamine addict, raped and brutalized at least two girlfriends, one of whom was pregnant with his son, and sodomized a jail cellmate whom he had turned into a “sex slave.” In a classic case of “you never know what an addict may do next,” according to the prosecutor Fowler deliberately set the blaze in a fit of rage against his godfather, who had kicked him out of his home at the top of Waterman canyon. As he threw a lighted road flare into brush at the base of the mountains on a Santa Ana-windy October day, we wonder if he said to himself, “I’ll show that damned godfather!” The damage that addicts can wreak is breathtaking.

Video of the month:

JZ Knight, the cult-like head of The Ramtha School of Enlightenment, was filmed making derogatory comments about Mexicans, Catholics, gays and others. Clue # 14 in the chapter (and category) “A Supreme Being Complex” in How to Spot Hidden Alcoholics is “Belittles others.” While belittling others, including entire classes of people, is a subtle way to inflate the ego at others’ expense, I’ve long noted it’s a wonderfully accurate clue to alcoholism, and often the first observable one. But in this video, we get much more: she’s high as a kite. But then, what would we expect of a cult-like leader claiming to channel a 35,000-year-old warrior? The school is suing a former student for publicizing the videos. But then, we’d expect that too.

Study of the month:

A Swiss study concluded that students who “pre-drink,” which is drinking alcohol before heading out to an event (such as, in this study, a bar, club or sporting event), are much more likely to have a blackout, unprotected sex, unplanned (other-)drug use or injury. Researchers found that students who pre-drank consumed on average seven drinks in an evening while those who drank only at a bar or event consumed just over four drinks. The difference is night and day: alcoholic vs. non-alcoholic drinking, and alcoholic vs. non-alcoholic behaviors. The addictionologist would have predicted precisely this outcome. The wonder is the researchers even bothered with the study (except why not: they probably used other people’s money). We’ll make another prediction (note to researchers: please don’t spend our money unwisely): nearly all of those who pre-drank and had a blackout, unprotected sex, unplanned other-drug use or injury, will at some point in their lives become obvious alcoholics or grateful recovering ones.

Chutzpah of the month # 1:

Diana Williamson, MD, 56, once lauded for her AIDS treatment work including the founding of an AIDS hospital, convicted of defrauding Medicaid out of $300,000 in part by writing about 11,000 phony prescriptions for painkillers (purchased with Medicaid tax dollars) peddled on the street. Williamson, who pleaded guilty, blamed “Nala,” one of her “multiple personalities,” for committing the crimes. Defense lawyer Jonathan Marks explained that Nala was “mischievous, irresponsible, reckless and, as we have just discovered, criminal.” Williamson added that Nala “committed these crimes without telling Diana or the other parts of me about them….Perhaps it sounds incredible that a part of me could be doing something that the rest of me would not know about.” Just a hunch, but perhaps Williamson didn’t peddle all those pills (she may have taken more than a few herself). The myth of multiple personalities was debunked in the “review of the month” in issue # 67 of TAR.

Chutzpah of the month # 2:

Juanita Cunningham, who filed a wrongful death lawsuit in connection with a police shooting of her son, Samuel Thomas Cunningham III, two years ago, just as the two-year statute of limitations for initiating a civil action was expiring. Cunningham had already stabbed John Jennings and was slashing at his throat when Detective Lou Pasqualetti heard a drunken fight in process, investigated and looked through the front door of the apartment where the fight was occurring. In what Pasqualetti described as a “split-second” decision in a use-of-force report filed after the shooting, he shot Cunningham to save Jennings, whose neck Cunningham was in the process of slashing. Mrs. Cunningham claims her son’s civil rights were violated by the shooting and, though unemployed at the time, he was “strong and healthy at the time of his death and capable of earning a living.” In her lawsuit, she claims her grandson, 17 at the time of the shooting, lost “his parent and the monetary value of the life of his parent [and we] have lost the value of [Cunningham’s] advice, example, counsel and company, and all of the other intangible items of uncountable value that their loved one meant.” Yup, like an entire life on how not to act when the grandson grows up.

Enablers of the month:

Journalists David Zahniser and Corina Knoll, for failing in an L.A. Times piece to connect the dots in regards to (1) Andrea Alarcon, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s top appointee on the Board of Public Works, (2) the abandonment one Friday night of her 11-year-old daughter, who was found unattended at City Hall, (3) her failure to “turn up” until about 2 a.m., after her daughter had been taken to the LAPD’s Central Division station, (4) Alarcon’s arrest on suspicion of DUI about a year ago, with a child in her car and (5) her decision “to seek professional help and treatment.” Granted, Alarcon asked the media to respect her family’s privacy “during this difficult time,” and the connection is pretty obvious—but not to everyone. Alarcon, 33, is a public figure who earns $130,000 on the taxpayers’ dime; one might argue those taxpayers have a right to know what’s going on, especially in regards to a having a disease that could compel her to commit fraud or other crime against not only her daughter, family, friends and co-workers, but also the  public. On a related note, her father, longtime Los Angeles City Councilman Richard Alarcon is being prosecuted by the District Attorney’s office in a case involving his (alleged) lies about living in a house in his Panorama City district—or not. Keep in mind, alcoholism runs rampant in some families—not because they are bad people, but because of a genetic link rooted in ancestry.

Sometimes, it takes an addict:

Native American and sometimes-libertarian activist Russell Means, dead at age 72 after a “general decline in health” subsequent to a reportedly successful battle with esophageal cancer. In the late ‘60s and early ‘70s he participated in the occupation of Alcatraz, the seizing of the Mayflower ll (a replica of the original), the occupation and trashing of the Bureau of Indian Affairs Washington offices by the American Indian Movement (AIM) and, in the coup de grace, the occupation of the hamlet of Wounded Knee in the Pine River reservation where, in 1890, 300 Lakota Indians were killed by the U.S. army. Means, along with some 200 others, held out through blizzards and machine gun fire against federal guardsmen for 71 days. He ran for the Presidency on the Libertarian Party ticket in 1988 (losing the bid to Congressman Ron Paul) and appeared in three dozen movies and television shows from 1992 until his death. Along the way he led a life of volatility as only addicts do: his face was crossed with the scars of numerous barroom brawls, he led and quit as head of the AIM six times before the movement split and he married five times. He defied authority, as do many addicts, in countless other ways: he never had a drivers’ license, a fishing permit or an Indian ID card and for 21 years he refused to pay income tax.

Dutch actress and model Sylvia Kristel, who made cinematic history by starring in the soft-core film “Emmanuelle” in 1974, dead at 60 from esophageal and lung cancer after a lifetime of smoking unfiltered cigarettes. According to The Economist, “she smoked at 11, and sneaked cognac from the bar” at the hotel her parents ran; her parents may have both snuck it, too: her mother is described by The Economist as “tippling” and her father left the mother for another woman just a few years later. Her drugs of choice became Dom Perignon and cocaine, which she thought of, according to Wikipedia, as a "supervitamin, a very fashionable substance, without danger, but expensive, far more exciting than drowning in alcohol – a fuel necessary to stay in the swing." And that she did, but not without the ups and downs experienced by so many addicts. Largely capitalizing on her sexually provocative image from the first “Emmanuelle,” she appeared in over 50 films, including four of seven in the Emmanuelle series, but along the way lost her entire savings on a film project, leaving her with $400 at the time. She was described, again by The Economist, as “seething with contradictions”: at once responsible and restrained, with an IQ of 167 and fluent in five languages, while she was “also a rebel who embraced freedom and fed freely on excess.” Such “contradictions” are classic alcoholism. And, as is so common among addicts, she pushed a revolution along—in this case, the sexual one: such a film as “Emmanuelle” had never before been on general release; Brazil, Spain, Japan and the Arab world banned it, while Britain cut it heavily.

Teri Shields, who promoted and managed the career of her daughter, actress Brooke Shields, dead at 79 after a long illness linked to dementia. I’ve long noted that many child actors have had careers driven by an alcoholic parent, and Brooke Shields is no exception. Teri’s single-minded promotion is something an addictionologist would expect of an alcoholic parent. She wielded power by doing all she could to ensure her child would become a monstrous success. And that she did, beginning with Brooke’s appearance at 11 months in an Ivory soap commercial. She allowed her 10-year-old daughter to be photographed nude for a Playboy Press publication. Two years later she let her be cast as a preteen prostitute in the 1978 film “Pretty Baby,” for which Teri earned much criticism, only the first of a number of roles that critics considered too sexual for Brooke’s age. The nude childhood photos gave a New York Supreme Court justice an excuse to lecture Teri for choices she had made for her young daughter, while dismissing a lawsuit by Teri and Brooke to suppress those same photos. Justice Edward Greenfield said that Teri was trying to be “maternally protective but exploitative at the same time….She cannot have it both ways” (even if alcoholics often try). At least we can thank you Teri, for bringing us Brooke.

Actor Larry Hagman of “Who shot J.R.?” and “I Dream of Jeannie” fame, dead from cancer at 81. Hagman, the son of “Peter Pan” star Mary Martin, was considered the “unofficial mayor of Malibu,” having lived there for decades in an oceanfront home. He often led impromptu parades on the sand while wearing wild costumes; I ran into him back in my surfing days in the 1970s, realizing much later that he was the crazy guy covered with what I recall was a toga-like or karate robe. He admitted to having drunk his way through “Dallas,” which ran from 1978 to 1991, uncorking a bottle of champagne at 9 a.m. and keeping it flowing all day. When diagnosed with liver cirrhosis in 1992, he became an instant teetotaler and later spoke openly about decades of alcoholic drinking (which began at age 15) that led to his cirrhosis, a cancerous tumor on his liver and, in 1995, a liver transplant. He was often asked how his liver transplant operation changed his life; he responded that apart from saving it, nothing changed. (Too bad nobody asked how his diagnosis with cirrhosis changed his life.) On the “I Dream of Jeannie” set, he reportedly drove his co-workers crazy with tantrums and destructive behavior he later attributed to perfectionism. (All-too-often, alcoholics don’t understand their own disease; for the uninitiated reading this, his behaviors were of course alcoholism-induced.) He said it took $40,000 in therapy sessions to learn to be calmer; he could have spent a whole lot less had he instead gone to AA meetings, but I digress. Through all of this, he remained married to one woman, whom he married in 1954, once again showing that we can’t predict the behaviors of a practicing alcoholic, whether good or bad.

Note to family, friends and fans of the above
: the benefit of the doubt is given by assuming alcoholism (they are either idiots and fundamentally rotten, or they are alcoholic/other drug addicts—which would explain the misbehaviors). If alcoholic, there is zero chance that behaviors, in the long run, will improve without sobriety. An essential prerequisite to sobriety is the cessation of enabling, allowing pain and crises to build. Thus far, many have done everything they can to protect the addict from the requisite pain, making these news events possible. The cure for alcoholism, consequential bad behaviors and, ultimately, tragedy, is simple: stop protecting the addict from the logical consequences of misbehaviors and, where possible, proactively intervene.

Do gun owners or addicts cause tragedy?

"'Our current gun culture simply ensures that more and more domestic disputes will end in the ultimate tragedy, and that more convenience-store confrontations over loud music coming from a car will leave more teenage boys bloodied and dead. ...Handguns do not enhance our safety. They exacerbate our flaws, tempt us to escalate arguments and bait us into embracing confrontation rather than avoiding it.'"

So said Bob Costas during a National Football League half-time show on national television, channeling Kansas City-based writer Jason Whitlock after the tragic murder-suicide of Kansas City Chiefs player Jovan Belcher, 25 and his on-again off-again girlfriend and mother of his child Kasandra Perkins, 22. He added, "If Jovan Belcher didn't possess a gun, he and Kasandra Perkins would both be alive today."

Jovan Belcher was drinking heavily almost continuously and popping loads of prescription painkillers, the labels for which very clearly tell users not to drink any alcohol. Because Belcher was drinking heavily while popping pills he was a readily-diagnosable alcohol and other-drug addict.

Addiction, Mr. Costas, is a disorder that causes afflicted people to act badly (and sometimes, unpredictably, horribly) some of the time. Addicts are capable of anything. If Belcher didn't have a gun, he easily could have killed his girlfriend Kasandra Perkins, 22, with his hands, or with a knife, or with his car, or in any number of other ways. Addicts are quite resourceful this way: consider O.J. Simpson (not) brutally murdering Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman using only a knife.

Nearly every murder is committed by an addict. Guns save far more in lives than they cost; one study suggests more than two million people successfully defend themselves and their loved ones every year by wielding a gun. As John Lott proves in his book More Guns, Less Crime, taking guns away from most people only increases levels of crime.

Admittedly however, guns make it a bit easier to commit murder. Therefore, targeting those who have proven to society they are not capable of controlling their behaviors when under the influence could be a topic for rational debate. Already, felons are proscribed from owning guns. On the other hand, many a felon has committed murder using a gun that he was not allowed to possess, so this is not likely to reduce murder in dramatic fashion.

Do we need to create more felons to give us an excuse to prohibit gun ownership by those who might mis-use guns? While that would help at the margin, there are already too many felons. Generally, a DUI isn't a felony. However, it is pretty good evidence for addiction, which in turn shows we can't predict how destructive a person could become, or when. Society might prohibit gun ownership for at least a period of time by those convicted of DUI. Again, however, this isn't likely to substantially reduce the number of murders.

By far the largest cause of violence outside of war is alcoholic egomania, which compels addicts to wield capricious power over others. Nearly every murder, assault, battery, instance of domestic violence, rape and other serious crime is committed by alcohol and other-drug addicts. If we really want to make it so that future Jovan Belchers and Kasandra Perkins remain alive, we need to dramatically reduce the number of active addicts. To do that, we need people to diagnose addiction, stop the enabling and intervene. I often say that for every tragedy that occurs in the life of an addict there were usually dozens if not hundreds of incidents for which close people or the law could have intervened, but didn't.  One can only imagine the enabling of Jovan Belcher by family, friends, co-workers and even his employer (despite their purported prevention efforts--after all, his alcoholic drinking was well-known) before tragedy occurred.

Costas, quoting Whitlock, said that handguns "exacerbate our flaws, tempt us to escalate arguments, and bait us into embracing confrontation rather than avoiding it." He added, "If Jovan Belcher didn't possess a gun, he and Kasandra Perkins would both be alive today." No Mr. Costas. Alcoholism exacerbates our flaws, tempts us to escalate arguments, and baits us into embracing confrontation rather than avoiding it. If Jovan Belcher had been clean and sober, he and Kasandra Perkins would both be alive today.

Click here to check out Doug's movie reviews.

My Wife’s a Drunk, But I Don’t Know it

Dear Doug:

My wife, to whom I have been married for eight months, is making me wonder if we got married too young. She’s just 23 and I’m 27.

She has a habit of going out with friends, getting drunk, and staying the night at her friends’ homes. I don’t want to be a control-freak and tell her she can’t go out, but the fact that she wants to spend the night with her single friends and get drunk is troublesome. What should I do?


Un-controlling husband

Dear Codependent,

Other columnists might say your wife is trying to “hold onto her carefree single days.” While they might suggest it’s unfortunate she can’t do that without getting smashed, at least she’s not driving until she sobers up the next day. Such columnists would suggest that you both widen your circle of friends in a bid to spend more time with other more mature couples.

Incredibly, such columnists would completely miss the root of the problem: your wife has alcoholism, a disease that causes her to biochemically process alcohol very differently from the way a non-addict like you processes the drug.

It’s hard to grasp the idea that alcohol makes the alcoholic act in ways non-addicts never would. Would you ever dream of leaving your wife (especially your newly betrothed!) o that you could go out drinking with your friends—and then spend the night at one of their homes? Of course not. Yet she does this frequently.

Whether you married too young is impossible to say. However, you married an alcoholic. Contrary to the extraordinary claim a columnist might make, she is not trying to “hold onto her carefree single days” and widening your (or her) circle of friends will do nothing to solve the problem. Nor will hanging out with “more mature couples” do anything to make her act more mature.

She needs to get sober and fast, before your marriage is irreparably harmed. You need to do whatever you can to arrange an intervention with a qualified interventionist. Be aware, however, that you may be swimming against the tide: alcoholism is heritable, so her parents may have the disease as well. Her friends are alcoholics. You will have to search far and wide to find enough people willing to help intervene to have an effect. And if you can’t, after at least giving her a choice between you and the bottle, leave her before she takes you down with her—because living with an alcoholic will do that, and hard. As the great alcoholism authority George E. Vaillant put it: “Outside of residence in a concentration camp, there are very few sustained human experiences that make one the recipient of as much sadism as does being a close family member of an alcoholic.” You have not come close to experiencing the worst of it, yet. You don’t want to.

(Source for story idea: Dear Abby, October 16, 2012)

And a bonus Dear Doug for this issue, which in this case isn’t as obvious:

Mother controls via ultimatums

Dear Doug:

My partner’s mother has always been unsupportive and critical of her. Lately, she has given several ultimatums threatening she will refuse to come over for various family holiday gatherings. She “won’t come over” if we adopt two cats to be companions for our dog, or if we invite friends to Thanksgiving dinner, or if I invite any of my family for Christmas dinner. My partner says we should adopt the cats, invite our friends to Thanksgiving and have my family over for Christmas. If we do any of this, I fear we’ll never see her mother again. I feel torn.


Torn between families

Dear Codependent,

Other columnists might correctly respond that this is a terrorist-like grab for control and, while you should invite her over, you can’t let her take control of your pet or guest list. They might point out this is a “divide and conquer” technique and that if you give in to one unreasonable demand, such demands will multiply. So far, so good. But then such columnists might suggest that if you and your partner stay on the same page and remain firm, her mother could come around.

Not likely.

Your partner’s mother’s need to control is so extreme and abhorrent, the odds that its likely root isn’t alcoholism is near-zero. If correct, she is not likely to “come around” until clean and sober. If you’re thinking, “But she’s never stunk of alcohol!” consider the fact that a cocktail of psychotropic pharmaceutical drugs does the same thing: it fuels egomania, which in turn switches on a need to wield power over others. Control over others’ lives in ways such as she is trying to do with yours is just one of countless ways to wield power. The best thing you can do is assume alcohol (or other-drug addiction—it doesn’t matter which drug or drugs) and try to get your partner on board for an intervention with a qualified interventionist. Only then will you be dealing with the real mother, who will be far more amenable than the likely drug-addicted one with whom you are trying to reason, but can’t.

(Source for story idea: Ask Amy, November 14, 2012.)

“She’s not going to be stable until she gets on medication.”

So said Bebe Anderson in explaining that her daughter, KoKo Nicole Anderson, 21, who had crashed through a gate at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport and drove onto a runway with her infant son in the car, suffered from bipolar disorder.

The trouble with this explanation is, as described in Alcoholism Myths and Realities, alcohol and other-drug addiction mimics (and sometimes triggers) mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder.

Police found KoKo in her car with the 2-month-old baby’s pacifier in the mother’s mouth. She told officers she wanted her flip-flop shoe. She was acting so erratically, a drug recognition officer (DRE) was called to the scene. Since a charge of aggravated DUI was added to charges of criminal damage and DREs are the law enforcement experts in identifying people who are under the influence, we can safely assume she was on something. Despite the claims of those who believe they can “dually diagnose” both a personality disorder and substance addiction, she needs to get clean and sober before being diagnosed as bipolar, which I seriously doubt will be the case.

If Bebe Anderson wants to help her granddaughter to avoid becoming yet one more tragic and very innocent victim of an undiagnosed and untreated psychotropic drug addict, she will correct her thinking to, “She’s not going to be stable until she gets off her drugs, whatever they may be.”

Story from “This is True” by Randy Cassingham, with his “tagline:”

“STRIKE TWO: After a sex scandal in Colombia, the U.S. Secret Service, which is charged with providing protection to the president and presidential candidates, issued an order prohibiting ‘excessive drinking’ by agents. Weeks after that order, President Barack Obama made a Florida campaign stop at the University of Miami. Shortly after the president left, a police officer found a man lying down at a busy intersection at 7:00 a.m. He told the man, who had a ‘strong odor of alcoholic beverage emitting from his breath,’ to get up, but he refused. The cop helped the man up -- and the man allegedly punched him. The officer called for backup, and once he got the man handcuffed, identified him as Aaron Francis Engler, an officer of the Secret Service and part of the president's security detail. Engler, who apparently wasn't armed, was charged with disorderly intoxication, and resisting arrest. (RC/Miami Herald) ...Does anyone else wonder what happened to his gun?”

Great quip Randy, but it’s also a great question.

In the Top Story (“The Afghani Massacre and the Secret Service Scandal: the Common Thread is Alcoholism”) of issue # 69 of TAR I wrote, “Nearly all law enforcers who act badly do so not because they are fundamentally rotten, but rather because they have the disease of alcohol or other-drug addiction. Since they hold particularly powerful positions in the public trust, more than others they need to be sober.” I’ve long argued that because addicts are capable of anything, law enforcement agencies of all stripes should screen out alcoholics via regular and random screening, with failure requiring treatment and proven sobriety using ankle bracelets. Consider this story: God only knows where the agent’s gun was or worse, what sort of secrets might have been divulged. Some might retort, “Oh, he’s a Secret Service agent; he would never do that because he knows better” doesn’t cut it. He already passed out, may have lost his gun and may have suffered a blackout, during which time he could have done anything. American soldier Robert Bales knew better than to massacre 17 Afghanis, but he was in a blackout—and those can happen to any alcoholic at any time while drinking and during such times addicts are capable of anything.

And as for the idiotic Presidential order prohibiting “excessive” drinking: it’s unnecessary to tell non-addicts to drink in moderation, while it’s futile to tell alcoholics to do so.

(Story and tagline from “This is True,” copyright 2012 by Randy Cassingham, used with permission. If you haven't already subscribed to his newsletter—the free one at least, or the paid one I get, with more than twice the stories—I highly recommend it:


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