April/May 2006 / Issue No. 20

We missed an issue of the Addiction Report. While I was hoping to make time before April 15 for a “top story” discussing income tax fraud, filing after the extended due date (past October 15) and odds of alcoholism, time got away. Maybe I’ll write it next year. In the meantime, enjoy this somewhat expanded issue.

Welcome to the Thorburn Addiction Report. Each month, we bring you several sections, including:

1. Top Story-of-the-Month
2. Review-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

There is something for everyone!

Duke University: Addicts Abound

ImageHow can we know who is guilty when addicts are everywhere?

There were many stories over the past two months that qualify for top billing. Zacarias Moussaoui leads the list as a child of an alcoholic who grew up to wage war against the greatest country ever. Rush Limbaugh got off almost scot-free on drug charges, while continuing to verbally attack other addicts and their suppliers. Alex and Rhoda Toth, winners of a $13 million lotto jackpot, were indicted on charges of tax fraud after declaring bankruptcy during the years they are accused of failing to report all their income. U.S. Representative Cynthia McKinney (Democrat) went berserk yet again and former Illinois Governor George H. Ryan (Republican) was convicted on an extraordinary array of bribery charges. (You’ll find more on these and other stories in the “runners-up” and “under watch” sections below.) But addict v. addict makes the top pick: certain Duke University lacrosse players and the strippers they hired for a party on March 13.

Players Collin H. Finnerty, 19, and Reade William Seligmann, 20, face charges of first-degree rape and kidnapping. Finnerty’s arrest follows an incident last November in which he and two friends hurled anti-gay epithets, leading to an attack in which the victim of the verbal abuse was physically injured. Finnerty avoided serving jail time by agreeing to a diversion program, which is now at risk of revocation. Where there is hatred, especially toward those of other races and sexual orientations, there is frequently alcoholism. This is particularly true if hatred is acted upon with violence.

The Duke team has a history of problems. Nearly half of its 47 players, 46 of whom are white, have been cited for mischief ranging from DUIs to public urination. The co-captain, Daniel Flannery, allegedly violated a city noise ordinance—a good clue to a lack of concern for the rights of others while under the influence. Witnesses to the party of March 13 claim it was lewd, drunken and filled with racial slurs. After the party, one of the men suggested in an e-mail that they hold more parties in which the players should skin and kill exotic dancers. As in riots and other commotions, addiction best explains the behaviors of those who lead others to cause trouble. With so many problems, while the odds of alcoholism in half the players are remote, the ratio is likely significantly higher than the 10% in the overall U.S. population.

On the other hand, the alleged victim, a 27-year-old black student at a predominately black college across town, had a tell-tale run-in with the law in 2002. After giving a taxi driver a lap dance at a Durham strip club, she stole the man’s car and led law enforcement on a high-speed chase. According to reports, a deputy thought the chase was over when she turned down a dead-end road. Instead, according to the police report she tried to run him over when he exited his vehicle. Her blood alcohol level registered over .16 per cent, which in conjunction with driving (attempted murder not required) is virtually a 100% indication of alcoholism. She admitted guilt, paid restitution and served time in jail.

The players’ lawyers claim to have photographic evidence showing the accuser was drunk and already injured before the alleged rape. While the pictures have not yet been shown to the public, everyone seems to agree that she was visibly inebriated when she left the party. Fellow stripper Kim Roberts, 31, who apparently tried to drive her home, admitted the accuser was too incoherent to even tell her where she lived. Just one hour after the incident, she was reportedly passed out in Roberts’ car.

Rape and false accusations are among the greatest perversions in which practicing alcoholics engage. It matters not that the accuser is a “decent and credible human being,” as her lawyer for the 2002 incident, Woody Vann, claims. The fact that Finnerty looks like a decent young man in pictures is irrelevant. If the woman has alcoholism, she’s perfectly capable of making a false accusation. If the young man has this disease, he’s capable of committing rape. All addicts are capable of anything regardless of background, upbringing, belief systems and morality to which they would normally adhere after a few years of sobriety.

The facts so far suggest that if a rape occurred, it was not committed by either Finnerty or Seligmann. Defense lawyers claim to have evidence that the indicted men were either not at the off-campus house where the alleged attack occurred, or were not there long enough to have engaged in the act. One was purportedly photographed by an ATM camera and another had a restaurant receipt during or close to the time of the alleged attack. Witnesses, including a taxi driver, offer alibis. Team members identify Seligmann as one of five players who wasn’t even at the party.

Then why were they arrested? Apparently, a medical examination of the woman found injuries consistent with rape. On the other hand, District Attorney Mike Nifong presented the alleged victim with a lineup consisting exclusively of photos of the lacrosse players, allowing zero chance to really test her credibility by giving her the option to select someone with no connection to the team. The grandstanding D.A. announced he was having DNA collected from all the players and boldly predicted the test results would identify the guilty. Although there was no match to the clothing or body of the accuser, the arrests were made. (Some of the victim’s defenders suggest that the rapists all wore condoms. Sure, drunk young men always put on condoms before committing rape.) Nifong appeared to have learned a thing or two from New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer when he told reporters that he was not dissuaded from the negative test results and said “I believe a sexual assault took place.” Forget about the idea that justice requires that the accused be presumed innocent until proven guilty, even by a top law enforcer who happened to be campaigning for reelection. (And in whom political behaviors may be indistinguishable from alcoholic ones.)

Fellow stripper Roberts, who at first said she doubted a rape occurred, seems to have realized she could make some hay by changing her story. Upset about leaks of both dancers’ criminal pasts, she said she wonders about the character of the defense attorneys and said, “I think they’re guilty…[although] I can’t say which ones….” She had e-mailed a public relations firm asking how she might “spin this to my advantage.” Eight days after the party she was arrested on a probation violation stemming from a 2001 conviction for embezzling $25,000 from a company where she worked as a payroll specialist. (Recall from the analysis in my first book, Drunks, Drugs & Debits, the odds of alcoholism in someone committing a felony are 80-90%.) A judge subsequently eliminated a requirement that a 15% fee be paid to a bonding agent, a change to which D.A. Nifong tacitly agreed.

The Duke case is reminiscent of the Haidl gang-rape trial (see http://www.preventragedy.com/PAGES/TAR/008.mar05.html) in which it seems almost everyone involved has alcoholism. Too often, the criminal justice system pits addict against addict, who are represented and judged by other addicts. Alcoholics, regardless of their position or how honest they may be in sobriety, cannot be trusted. Therefore, the criminal justice system needs to be cleaned up. Every law enforcer from police and correctional officers to Chiefs of Police should be randomly and regularly tested, with those failing offered an appropriate choice. This includes even District Attorneys and Attorneys General.

Runners-up for top story of the month:

Franklin County, Ohio Common Pleas Judge John Connor, 66, who has been targeted for removal from the bench by Gov. Bob Taft, House Speaker John Husted and Attorney General Jim Petro for failing to imprison an admitted rapist who sexually assaulted two children of Sri Lankan immigrants. The assailant, Andrew Selva, 46, admitted to abusing the boys, ages 5 and 12, repeatedly over a period of three years. Although originally charged with 20 counts of rape, the indictment was found legally defective and, under a plea arrangement with Connor, Selva was labeled a sexual predator and sentenced to treatment and probation. Connor admitted that if prosecutors had gone forward with rape charges, Selva “would have been gone for 100 years.” Connor’s judgment should be questioned, since Conner has had as many as eight arrests for DUI, including at least two since becoming a judge (the precise number might never be known, since his records were reported to have been improperly sealed). Sobriety requires both abstinence and ego deflation, which is questionable in someone who calls it a “joke” that state leaders are asking him to step down. What’s truly a joke is that court records of judges can be sealed and that Connor was named Irishman of the Year by the Shamrock Club of Columbus, Ohio.

Would-be hijacker and jihadist Zacarias Moussaoui, setting himself up for death for his role in the September 11 atrocities by boasting at his sentencing trial that he was set to fly a fifth plane into the White House. His father, Omar Moussaoui, was a violent alcoholic who routinely beat his wife and two daughters, Zacarias’ sisters. Reportedly, he frequently asked his mother to forgive him, but for what was never made clear. We might suspect that it was for his inability to protect his mother from his father’s abuse. His may be a classic case of the child of an alcoholic learning the parent’s behaviors all-too-well.

Connie Retana, 38, arrested for rape-in-concert and false imprisonment. She’s been accused of cheering on her 18-year-old son, Martin Delgado, along with his gangland friends, as they allegedly repeatedly raped a 23-year-old woman. She is among 10 charged for the rape, which was in retaliation for the young woman’s boyfriend’s actions. Retana previously served two prison terms for drug possession.

Amy Fisher, nicknamed the “Long Island Lolita,” finally admitting to having been strung out on Ecstasy when she shot then boyfriend Joey Buttafuoco’s wife, Mary Jo, in the face in 1992. She told “Entertainment Tonight” that the drug made her feel “stronger and confident.” Yes, drugs will do that for addicts. She admits it was “totally irrational.” Yes, that too.

Actor Don Johnson, former star of “Miami Vice” and “Nash Bridges,” who saved his Aspen, Colorado home by forking over $14.5 million to a lender two days before a foreclosure auction. Johnson has a long history of “partying,” which seems to interfere with “paying one’s bills.”

Actress Melanie Griffith, twice married to actor Don Johnson and now married to actor Antonio Banderas, back in AA after yet another relapse. Melanie, age 48, admits to first “dabbling” in drugs at age 14 and has since entered treatment at least twice, in 1988 and 2000. The trouble is, she has too much money. As an actress she is perhaps a more convincing liar than most addicts when doing what she must to protect her perceived right to use, while still keeping her kids and husband around to enable. Message to Antonio: give her an uncompromising choice before we are reminded of comedian Phil Hartman, his wife Bryn and their two orphaned children.

Rapper Snoop Dogg, 34, arrested on suspicion of “violent disorder” and creating a disturbance over access to a first-class lounge at London’s Heathrow Airport. Seven officers were reported to have received minor injuries in the fracas. Creating a commotion at an airport in a day and age of terrorism is by itself enough for a diagnosis of alcoholism. Creed singer Scott Stapp was mentioned in the March www.addictionreport.com as having had a similar experience. It turns out that Stapp had gotten out of rehab just weeks before.

Conservative talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh, reaching a settlement with Palm Beach County prosecutors in which he will be charged with a single count in connection with illegally obtained prescriptions for a drug from more than one doctor. As part of the plea, the charge will be dropped in 18 months if he continues treatment for drug addiction. Limbaugh has not, to my knowledge, retracted his repeated statements that drug users should be jailed. By the way, his apparent drugs of choice—Oxycontin and Vicodin—are legal opioids, or synthetic heroin. I will repeat my assertion to which a radio commentator responded by hanging up on me: Limbaugh is a wealthy heroin addict, no different from the rest, except for his ability to perpetuate an extraordinary level of hypocrisy.

Alex and Rhoda Toth, indicted on charges of filing false income tax returns in 2000, 2001 and 2002. The Toth’s were down to their last $24 when they won a $13 million jackpot in the Florida Lotto in 1990, opting to take annual payments of $666,666 until 2010. They appeared on Oprah in 1996 and later claimed the money had torn apart their family. According to reports, “their wealth led to family squabbles and bankruptcy court,” with both of the Toth’s filing under Chapter 13 in 2001. Take a look at the picture of Mr. Toth at http://www.tampabays10.com/news/news.aspx?storyid=28728 and decide whether their wealth created problems for them or, perhaps, something else did. (It’s a great picture, isn’t it?) The Toth’s deny wrongdoing and blame “someone they trusted” for their legal woes. Theirs appears to be a classic case of financial abuse of others as well as themselves.

Vili Fualaau, now 22, who married his sixth-grade teacher, Mary Kay Letorneau, now 44, when she got out of prison after serving seven years for child rape, found guilty of DUI after blowing a .136. Fualaau and Letorneau are both unemployed and living off the spoils of the sale of their story to TV. She is reportedly “concerned” about Vili’s “partying.”

Singer Whitney Houston, whose life has completely fallen apart due to addiction with an apparent specialty in crack cocaine. Returning to rehab yet again, she may have been inspired to try sobriety by a very public airing of the problem by her family, including sister-in-law and former drug buddy, Tina Brown. Perhaps the lurid pictures of a disheveled and very high Whitney will serve as a reminder before yet another relapse and risk of death. Hers is a truly tragic case of late-stage multi-drug addiction and self-abuse.

Former Dodger pitcher Steve Howe, National League Rookie of the Year in 1980, killed early Friday morning, April 28, in a one-vehicle rollover. Howe, who also pitched for the Twins, Rangers and Yankees, was suspended seven times for behaviors related to his well-known alcohol and cocaine addiction. In 1997, a year after his final season in the Major Leagues, he was seriously injured in a motorcycle accident and charged with DUI. More recently, he became co-owner of an energy drink company in Arizona. Toxicology tests have not yet been performed.

Singer June Pointer, 52, the youngest of the Pointer Sisters, dead from multiple cancers. She was kicked out of the group in 2000 after a long history of alcohol and other-drug addiction, which she admitted began at age 13. A close friend suggests if she’d gotten regular checkups the cancers might have been found before becoming life-threatening; unfortunately, she may have been too busy securing her drugs of choice, including the all-around alcohol, the stimulant crack cocaine and the tranquilizers Valium and Xanax, to be concerned with early diagnosis of cancer. Her parents were reportedly non-drinking ministers.

Actress Maureen Stapleton, who died from chronic pulmonary disease. Apparently long sober, Stapleton was nominated for and winner of several Academy, Emmy and Tony Awards. While she won the best-actress Tony for her portrayal of a down-and-out alcoholic singer in Neil Simon’s “The Gingerbread Lady,” she is perhaps best known for her role as the anarchist Emma Goldman in “Reds.” She once told an interviewer, “The curtain came down and I went into the vodka.” She inherited her alcoholism from, among likely others, her father, who was a “prodigious drinker” and who, according to a New York Times obituary, “had endless battles with her mother, Irene, until they separated when Maureen was a child.” Stapleton was 80.

Under watch:

Former Illinois Governor George H. Ryan, 72, convicted of bribery in a sweeping federal corruption case, despite the fact that no one testified to actually seeing the Governor receive money for favors. There are no videotapes, wiretaps or confessions. The fact that his crimes saw the light of day only because an unqualified trucker was involved in an accident that killed six children is testimony to the difficulty in bringing crooked politicians to justice. (Proving that alcoholism is at the root of such misbehaviors can be an even greater challenge.) The accident, which initially focused on bribes paid for drivers’ licenses, has led so far to 79 indictments and 75 convictions.

Ryan is the latest in a long line of corrupt public officials. Five of Illinois’ last nine governors have been convicted of, tried on or stained by charges of criminal wrongdoing. Recall that alcoholism causes power-seeking misbehaviors and, therefore, if there are misbehaviors, we should be looking for alcoholism. There is no more efficient way by which to wield power than holding office. Therefore, corruption in high places is a seminal clue to alcoholism.

Genetics and familial interactions also suggest that alcoholism may be at the root of Gov. Ryan’s criminal behaviors. Studies cited in How to Spot Hidden Alcoholics indicate the odds of addiction in a parent of an addict are over 40%. Ryans’ daughter Lynda Fairman was arrested in 2004 for DUI with a BAL of .19 per cent. Anyone functional enough to get behind the wheel of a car with a BAL greater than .15 per cent has an almost 100% certainty of alcoholism. Fairman’s husband Michael was convicted of DUI in 1995 and again in 1999. Children of alcoholics often put up with serious misbehaviors in close relationships for extended periods because they are accustomed to such conduct.

Although Ryan was pro-active in toughening DUI laws while in office, Michael Fairman’s first DUI was never placed on his driving record in the Secretary of State’s office, which Ryan ran at the time. Fairman testified in the Ryan case he received $55,000 for political consulting work he didn’t do. He may have needed the money to satisfy gambling and other debts. Still, during the time he was receiving the $55,000 in a series of checks, he declared bankruptcy. Ryan, who will be sentenced in August, faces up to 95 years in prison and $4.5 million in fines.

U.S. Rep. Cynthia McKinney, who refused to respond to an officer’s request to identify herself when entering a Capitol Hill check point and struck the officer when he attempted to restrain her. She is known for volatile behaviors and bizarre claims, such as, “Bush knew about the 9-11 attacks in advance and encouraged them so his pals could profit.” She, like Governor Ryan, has a sense of entitlement indicative of alcoholism. Is there anyone who cares to “out” either of them?

Actress Katherine Heigl, reported as having at least one series of tantrums on the set of “Grey’s Anatomy” and repeatedly calling her agent between screaming sessions, complaining about perceived incompetence among crew members. If these reports are true, we should give her the benefit of the doubt and assume alcoholism, since it’s hard to imagine that anything else could incite such behaviors. Message to her co-workers and family: early identification of and intervention in alcoholism can help prevent tragedy.

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 proactively intervene.

Review: “The True Stella Awards,” by Randy Cassingham

Based on his popular website, www.StellaAwards.com, humorist Randy Cassingham brings us this terrific book chronicling one outrageous lawsuit after another. Most would find it unfathomable that the cases discussed and thoroughly lampooned are brought before U.S. courts, but the wonder is diminished when the likelihood of alcoholism in many of the litigants is taken into account. Cassingham performs an admirable service in mocking them and bringing us smiles, even though underneath we know that for every case discussed there may be thousands of others like it that fail to attract the ridicule they deserve.

A classic case comes from the world of sports. Anthony Ercolano, 44, was a big fan of the Seattle Mariners. He spent $32,000 for a pair of season tickets in the exclusive “Diamond Club” section five rows behind home plate. He figured that gave him the right to be loud—and that other fans and players, who could hear among many noises, baby-crying sounds when batters argued with the umpire, had no right to ask him to tone down his racket. So, Ercolano did what anyone else would do in similar circumstances: he sued the team for violating his freedom of speech. We give him the benefit of the doubt by assuming that his sense of entitlement stems from alcoholism.

Another involves financial abuse. Antoinette Millard, 40, posed as a Saudi Arabian princess and was issued a coveted “Black” no-credit-limit American Express card, which she used to run up a $951,000 debt. She was arrested and charged with grand larceny. She was also charged with insurance fraud for filing a $262,000 claim for jewelry she said had been stolen, but which prosecutors say she sold. We might be called cynical if we assume she paid for the jewelry with the “Black” card, but we’d probably be right.

When American Express sued her for the debt, Millard insisted she should not be held liable, since American Express “induced” her to sign up for the card by promising she could make “flexible payments.” She countersued American Express for $2 million, arguing that they “knew or should have known that [Millard] was acting impulsively and irrationally at the time she entered into contract.” Sensible people might think that such an argument takes alcoholic blame as far as it can go, but they would be wrong.

Ron Brown, 23, refused to pull over after Clemson, South Carolina police responded to a 4 am report that he had tried to run down a pedestrian. Brown, with police in pursuit, drove off the end of a bridge under construction and was killed. His father, Bob Brown, filed a wrongful death suit against everyone involved. Police were sued for having “forced” his son to drive into a “dangerous construction zone.” Thrift Brothers Construction Company was sued for not having sufficient signs and barriers to stop his crazed son. Brown Sr. also brought action against the South Carolina Department of Transportation, the apartment complex where the chase began and the complex employee who made the initial report.

Should we laugh—or should we cry? We laugh because Cassingham has a wonderful way with words. We cry when considering our tax dollars at work in the courts and the time people are forced to waste in defending themselves against the miscreants supplying the fodder for these all-too-true stories. But Cassingham is doing a great service in pointing out the flaws in our system and the compounding of errors when insurers settle, which serves only to encourage more of the same misbehaviors by others who decide to board the gravy train.

Cassingham's mix of humorous style and serious message strikes just the right balance to address a costly and ugly problem. Perhaps, insurers and courts will some day get the message. Drug Addiction Recognition Experts™ understand the underlying cause of most such problems, which is half the solution.

Stella Awards


There were several letters to advice columnists over the last couple months involving the financial abuse of others. The idea that the perpetrator is compelled to wield such power due to biochemistry that processes drugs in a way that causes an inflated sense of self-importance leads to identical cures: stop the enabling and, wherever possible, intervene.

Live off the government

Dear Doug:

My husband’s mother, sister and brother-in-law recently moved nearby. I am appalled by their continuous search for better ways to live off the government and find that I am increasingly sickened in their presence. What can I do when there are family events that I have to attend?


Morally Indignant

. . . .

Dear Indignant,

Other columnists would likely suggest that you continue to tolerate them because they are family and you should agree to disagree and be civil, if only for your husband’s sake. This is utter nonsense. Inform your husband that you refuse to enable by being their sounding board and audience while they inflate their egos by bragging about their exploitation of others (i.e., the taxpaying public). If you are in a position to do so without getting credit, blow the whistle on this unethical and perhaps criminal crew. In the meantime, educate your husband about alcoholism and intervention.

High school dropout

Dear Doug:

My daughter’s husband has worked a total of eight days in the six months of their young marriage. He talks about getting a job and even once told my daughter he was going to work when there was no workplace to go to. My daughter has racked up $18,000 in debt since marrying this loser. How can I help her realize this grown up is too emotionally immature to remain in a marriage?


Frustrated Mom

. . . .

Dear Mom,

Other columnists would probably assert that all you can do is let your daughter know you love her and hope the husband will grow up. Sorry, but addicts—and regardless of whether you see him drink, he likely drinks addictively—cannot grow up until they become sober. And there’s no reason for him to get sober so long as your daughter enables him by being there and taking on more of his debt. Tell her if she really loves him she will give him a choice: her or the bottle. While your suggestion might fall on deaf ears, as her financial and personal conditions worsen she could become increasingly receptive. In the meantime, watch for signs of physical abuse. If any are found, immediately report him to authorities.

My mom, the liar

Dear Doug:

My mother lives with me in my home. I pay all the bills, including those for her frequent spending sprees. Yet, mom tells friends that I live in her home on which she pays the mortgage. She even has the gall to tell people that she pays all my bills. She does everything possible to make me look like an idiot and makes it appear that she is behind all my successes at work and home. Is her behavior rooted in some sort of jealousy or does she just have a need to be mean?


Puzzled Son

. . . .

Dear Son,

Other columnists might say that some people lie because they are ashamed of the truth, while others do so to make themselves seem important or win at some sort of competition. Such columnists might lean towards the idea that she’s simply a compulsive liar and that only a therapist can figure out the reason, not a columnist who doesn’t know her. Yet, while she might have a need to inflate her ego because she “just does,” the odds are this sick need is rooted in alcohol or other-drug addiction. Such a tentative diagnosis, for which we can ascribe 80% odds, can be made without knowing anything else about her. And by the way, stop financing her spending sprees!

Finally, here’s a letter to which the columnists respond by suggesting the alcoholic is capable of self-diagnosis.

Gorgeous Alcoholic

Dear Doug:

I’m afraid that my gorgeous daughter is becoming an alcoholic despite a wonderful family and terrific career. She thinks it’s ok to drink excessively because she has, according to her, high tolerance and never looks drunk. Would you please list the signs of alcoholism?


Concerned Mom

. . . .

Dear Mom,

Other columnists might list the signs given by AA, which have the person under scrutiny ask questions about his or her own thinking or behaviors. Such questions include, “Have you ever decided to stop drinking for a week, but could only do so for a couple of days?” and “Have you had problems connected with drinking during the past year?” Such questions are meaningless for the practicing alcoholic, who not only may be able to stop drinking for months at a time or drinks most of the time without causing trouble, but may be incapable of connecting the dots due to euphoric recall (under which she perceives everything she does through self-favoring eyes). You have obviously seen trouble in your daughter’s life or you wouldn’t ask the question. And high tolerance is symptomatic of addiction—consider another gorgeous addict, actress Elizabeth Taylor, who didn’t enter rehab until after her sixth marriage and who could drink one of her better-known drinking companions, actor Richard Burton, under the table. Of course your daughter has alcoholism—and it’s time to conspire with your son-in-law, her friends and whoever else will agree to aid in a formal intervention, before tragedy happens.

(Source for story ideas: Annie’s Mailbox, March 27 and April 11, 2006; Dear Abby, April 5, 2006; Annie’s Mailbox, April 26, 2006.)

Prevent Tragedy Foundation

“The alleged victim may have been drowning her sorrows after her terrible ordeal.”

So said Paul T. Wall, one of the co-hosts of the Bill Handel radio program on 640am KFI in Los Angeles, explaining why the alleged rape victim in the Duke University case was found passed out in her car after the incident. One of the grand myths that pervade alcoholism is that the alcoholic drinks to drown out sorrows, unhappiness or some tragic loss. The problem is they also drink to celebrate, whether for a resounding success, a dramatic win, or just because it’s Friday night. The truth of the matter is they drink addictively because they can.

Amazing Antics: Stories of Alcoholism-Driven Behaviors™

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

“THERE'S NOTHIN' LIKE HOME COOKIN': ‘Now THERE'S a couple that knows how to fight!’ summarized an enthusiastic Reuters reporter, telling the story of a couple in Mexico who got into a spat in their Oxkutzcab, Yucatan, home. Like a scene from the movie ‘Mr. and Mrs. Smith’, the report says, the couple's fight escalated from knives to guns to home-made bombs; their house was destroyed. Juan Espinosa was arrested and Irma Contreras was hospitalized with third-degree burns. Unlike the ‘Smiths’ the couple didn't get a happily-ever-after ending: Espinosa said he was glad his wife suffered burns, and Contreras reported she was sorry she had not ‘hacked off his manhood.’ (Reuters) ...Coming next fall, with Brad Pitt as ‘Juan’ and Angelina Jolie as ‘Irma’ in the amazing sequel....”

My tagline might have included Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor or Don Johnson and Melanie Griffith for a bit more realism, but that’s why Randy writes the taglines. While the story fails to mention heavy drinking, we know better. Alcoholics sometimes get together and make each other miserable. Their lives mimic bipolar disorder, with highs of spending sprees and sex alternating with lows of verbal and, occasionally, physical abuse. Like so many, this couple will likely kiss and make up, only to do it all over again. While next time they might make themselves eligible for a joint Darwin Award, their family, friends and neighbors no doubt hope they won’t get the opportunity.

(Story and tagline from “This is True,” copyright 2006 by Randy Cassingham, used with permission. See http://www.thisistrue.com for free subscriptions.)



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