June 2007 / Issue No. 30

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, usually where someone deserves the Darwin Award, but lived.

There is something for everyone!

I've got three items to share with you before we get to this month's TAR. First, I have begun to blog. So far, I have re-written journalist's queries on a large range of topics, along with my responses. I may, however, begin writing preludes to this letter as news worthy of comment arises. You can efficiently view new comments by setting yourself up for a "Google Alerts" for Doug Thorburn. Recently, I've been getting alerts of my own blog entries within hours of posting. I do get a few extraneous alerts, such as news about a couple of others with the name "Doug Thorburn" (and I thought I was unique!), but they are few and far between.

Second, last month I mentioned I was slated for jury duty the week of May 14. Ironically, I was selected as one of 20 prospective jurors for a misdemeanor DUI case. When I informed the judge of my expertise in addiction, she responded that the matter would be left to the attorneys as long as I was willing to avoid playing "expert" during deliberations. I was preempted out, but not by the defense. A deputy D.A. friend told me the best explanation for a preemptory challenge by the prosecuting attorney was that the state's case was weak and I might have seen through the cops, 20% to 50% of whom are alcoholics.

If the case had involved anything other than a DUI, I would have informed the judge that if I identify anyone giving testimony as a likely alcoholic I will not trust anything that person says, even though under oath. Therefore, I expect to be thrown off regardless; I just don't know by which side. Those of you who also would prefer to be un-selected for a jury might want to bone up on
How to Spot Hidden Alcoholics: Using Behavioral Clues to Recognize Addiction in its Early Stages.

Third, the movie "Breach" will be available on DVD June 12th. It's not only great story telling, acting and film making, but also the greatest portrayal ever on the big screen why we need to identify alcoholism. Unfortunately, I was unprepared to review it when I saw it at a theatre a couple of months ago, but intend to rectify the omission in the next issue. Now for this month's news, comments and most fun, antics!

Phil Spector —
Confused or Crazy, His Antics are Rooted in Alcoholism

After a gunshot rang through retired music producer Phil Spector's home on February 3, 2003 at 5 a.m., he walked outside in a daze and told his driver, Adriano DeSouza, "I think I just killed someone." He didn't say, "I didn't kill anyone," or "I definitely did not kill Lana Clarkson," or anything else denying culpability for the actress's death. Yet, if Spector has the disease of alcoholism, he could either have been confused, or culpable.

Spector, 68, turned rock'n'roll into "symphonies for teenagers." Working with the Beatles, the Righteous Brothers and the Ronettes, he became a multi-millionaire by his early 20s. His main claim to fame until now, the "wall of sound" that combines orchestration with vocal harmonies, is considered revolutionary by the music world. While he didn't exactly flame out, he essentially retired by his mid-20s and worked only sporadically in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Except for his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989, Spector was considered a recluse and rarely seen until 2003.

Clues to likely alcoholism can be found early on. Spector married Ronnie Bennett of the Ronettes in 1968 and divorced in 1974. Bennett left him in 1972, asserting she would have died if she'd remained with him. She claimed that on several occasions in 1974 he threatened to kill her unless she signed away all her future royalties in the divorce settlement. John Lennon accused him of pointing a gun at Stevie Wonder in 1973 ("an awkward way to threaten to kill a blind man") and he reportedly brandished a gun at a number of other acquaintances and friends, including Dee Dee Ramone during recording sessions for the Ramones' "End of Century" in 1979 and, allegedly, several women after being refused sex. In 1980, his ten-year-old son ran away, citing years of abuse. One girlfriend in the late '80s described classic Jekyll and Hyde behaviors, saying "he'd turn from a lover into a monster in a split second." A number of other friends used similar words in describing behaviors that are usually rooted in alcoholism.

Spector was reported to have "curtailed his drinking" in 2000, which indicates that even he finally realized drinking had caused him severe problems (recalling that the addict can self-identify only long after knowledgeable and aware observers diagnose the disease). A long-time friend wrote, "Thankfully, the only beverages offered around Phil this century are diet colas and Sprite, and I'm [now] in no danger of being hit by a stray bullet." Yet, he went out clubbing on the night of February 2, 2003, when he met actress Lana Clarkson and lured her to his home with a promise of just "one drink." He reportedly "looked like he was under the influence of something" by a Los Angeles talent manager who was seated near Spector at an Italian restaurant at around 1 a.m., and "he kept getting up and going to the bathroom." He is said to have left a $500 tip on a $55 invoice after downing at least two rum cocktails. Except for the fact that he wasn't able to run out of funds with which to fuel his addiction, a 900% tip is reminiscent of James Woods' tax-shelter salesman character Lenny Brown in the movie, "The Boost," tipping out his last dollars to a parking attendant who had watched Lenny's car being repossessed. Addicts always have to be big shots, regardless of the forum.

Following his arrest, Spector called "the actions of the Hitler-like [then] D.A. [Steve Cooley] and his storm trooper henchmen... reprehensible, unconscionable and despicable." Hyperbole is a behavioral indication of alcoholism, as is a refusal to accept responsibility for one's misbehaviors. Capriciously hiring and firing in repeated fashion, which he has done with a succession of criminal defense attorneys (including O.J. Simpson's Robert Shapiro, Eric and Lyle Menendez's Leslie Abramson and now mobster John Gotti's Bruce Cutler), is also symptomatic of alcoholism. Unfortunately there is little doubt that Spector, who is on his fourth marriage (this time to a 26-year-old), relapsed sometime before February 3, 2003. Since alcoholics are masterful liars, he may have been lying when he said, "I think I just killed someone." On the other hand, he more likely lied when he emphatically exclaimed during an interview with Esquire Magazine that Clarkson had "kissed the gun" and then shot herself.

Runners-up for top story of the month:

St. Louis Cardinals relief pitcher Josh Hancock, killed when he ran his Ford Explorer into a tow truck that had stopped ahead of him in the left lane of a St. Louis freeway at 12:35 a.m. The tow truck had its lights flashing, Hancock was believed to be driving at or barely above the speed limit and there were no alcoholic beverage containers found in the vehicle. However, the fact that he headed straight for the flashing lights suggested there might be more to the story.

Years ago, the California Highway Patrol was baffled over the fact that many DUIs ran smack into patrol cars on which lights were flashing. They finally figured out that DUIs often become mesmerized by such lights and head right at them. Unfortunately, many emergency vehicles still flash lights from behind and this one, in the traffic lane behind a disabled Geo Prism, had no choice. This proved to be fatal for Hancock, whose BAL was reported a few days after the incident at .157 per cent, almost twice the legal limit--and an almost foolproof indicator of alcoholism. He was on his cell phone telling a female acquaintance he would meet her at a bar he was heading to when the accident occurred. Marijuana and a glass pipe used for smoking it were found in the vehicle as well.

Although his teammates and friends claimed to have thought only the best of Hancock (nice guy and all) and at least one teammate refuted the idea that Hancock had a "drinking problem," there were at least two reported warning signs of alcoholism (other than the fact that he would attempt to drive at a .157). He was involved in an accident with a tractor-trailer at 5:30 a.m. three days earlier, in which the front bumper of his SUV was torn off. He'd also overslept a few days before and showed up late at the ballpark for a day game. Hancock admitted to having arisen on what he called the "20th call" from teammates concerned about him.

The other interesting point for the addiction-aware is that darned Geo Prism. Just what was it doing, stopped, in the left lane--and why didn't the driver pull off the road with little or no traffic in the middle of the night? (One of the clues to DUI I thought of after Get Out of the Way! How to Identify and Avoid a Driver Under the Influence went to press is, "Stopped in the middle of a freeway.") The irony is that Josh Hancock, a victim of his own alcoholism, may also have been victim to someone else's, without which he might be alive today.

HBO chairman and chief executive Chris Albrecht, 54, arrested at 3 a.m. after an altercation outside of the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas after the Oscar De La Hoya-Floyd Mayweather Jr. boxing match, which went down as HBO's most successful pay-per-view ever. Officers said they had to physically break Albrecht's grip around the neck of his companion, Karla Jensen, 37, a correspondent for HBO and Telemundo, who was reportedly dragged by the throat toward the valet parking station. Officers said he was unsteady on his feet, "reeked" of alcohol and said of the woman, "She pissed me off."

In a letter to colleagues at HBO, Albrecht confessed to having relapsed about two years ago after being "a sober member of Alcoholics Anonymous for 13 years." The last time he got sober was shortly after allegedly assaulting a female subordinate when she told him she had been dating someone else. HBO hushed up the episode with a confidentiality agreement and personal injury settlement of at least $400,000, which didn't surface until now. While the affair ended Albrecht's first marriage, he continued as the creative genius and force behind much of HBO's original programming, including "The Sopranos," "Sex and the City" and "Everybody Loves Raymond." Albrecht has been ousted as head of HBO, which could cost the parent company, Time Warner Inc, dearly.

In his letter to co-workers, Albrecht expressed hope that he would return to his post. He wrote, "I won't let you down again." The questions a Drug Addiction Recognition Expert(TM) might ask are if he relapsed two years ago, why didn't anyone notice? Why wasn't anything done about it? And how many other relationships did he ruin along the way?

Broward County, Florida, Circuit Judge Lawrence Korda, 59, apologizing to the court and his colleagues across the state while pleading to a misdemeanor charge of smoking marijuana last March. The arrest of the family court judge took place three weeks after he handled part of the paternity battle over Anna Nicole Smith's daughter. He was reportedly smoking in a public park near about 15 children, who according to Korda's attorney were unaware of and unaffected by the judge's conduct. The attorney didn't comment on the unmistakable aroma of the burning weed. The state's judicial watchdog will soon be ruling on whether Judge Korda should be removed from the bench, depending partly on his response to such questions as where he got the dope and how often he smokes it.

In pictures reminiscent of the mug shot of actor Nick Nolte, a video of actor David Hasselhoff taken by his 17-year-old daughter Taylor was, according to Hasselhoff, "maliciously" released by "individuals who are not worthy of mentioning... for their own self purpose." Hasselhoff lies on a floor shirtless, attempting to eat a hamburger while obviously stinking drunk. His daughter, off-screen, begs her father to stop drinking and asks, "Why do you like doing this to yourself?" "'Cause I'm lonely," Hasselhoff responds. "I don't have any children in my life." Videos are an excellent tool not only for interventions, but also as reminders. While the tape was never intended to become public, perhaps it will serve to remind Mr. Hasselhoff what may happen the next time he begins to take a sip. It may even serve as a tool for other codependents, who can tell their addicts, "That's what you looked like when...."

Heiress Paris Hilton, who was sentenced to 45 days in jail for violating the terms of her probation for an alcohol-related reckless driving conviction in January 2007 resulting from an arrest the previous September. She was pulled over January 15 and informed she was driving on a suspended license and again February 27 for speeding and driving without her headlights on (an excellent indicator of DUI, but there is no report she was tested), at which time she was charged with violating her probation. She reportedly has had "numerous" mishaps behind the wheel of very expensive vehicles and was recently fired from her duties at Club Paris, which she doesn't own but to which she rents her name, thanks to her skipping promotional appearances. Los Angeles City prosecutors want her to wear a monitoring device to keep her alcohol-abstinent after she is released. The fly in the ointment is, despite all the evidence and a family history of alcoholism, she didn't argue with the officer when she was arrested for DUI at a .09 per cent BAL. On the other hand, among other tirades, she was kicked out of a Beverly Hills supermarket after (allegedly) ramming her shopping cart into an old lady's and screaming, "That's what you get for being rude and blocking the aisle!"

Under watch:

Hall of Famer and seven-time All-Star Orlando Cepeda, clocked at 83 mph in a 65 mph zone and pulled over by a California Highway Patrol officer, who smelled the unmistakable odor of marijuana emanating from his car. The officer found a white-powder substance that was likely methamphetamine or cocaine, along with marijuana and a syringe, and arrested the 69-year-old Cepeda on suspicion of felony possession. After his playing career ended, Cepeda was convicted in 1976 in San Juan, Puerto Rico, of smuggling marijuana. It is believed that Cepeda, who works for the San Francisco Giants as a community liaison and ironically speaks to at-risk children about the dangers of alcohol and other drugs, was not under the influence at the time of his arrest and was cooperative with officers. I could find no evidence of addictive use online by Cepeda, but that doesn't mean he's clean. My suspicion is he relapsed.

French President Jacques Chirac, whose 12-year presidency ended after the French voted to break with past ideas. Chirac uttered an amazing array of idiotic statements, including one to Saddam Hussein, "You are my personal friend. Let me assure you of my esteem, consideration and bond," and another regarding Iran's nuclear program: "Having one or perhaps a second bomb a little later, well, that's not very dangerous," while he was (supposedly) negotiating with Iran to give up its nuclear program. He held nothing but contempt and scorn for the United States and the English language, once storming out of a room in which English was spoken. Belittling others more successful than oneself is immensely ego-gratifying for the addict. Such remarks are one of the classic signs of alcoholism, even if insiders never spill the beans and outside observers are never able to confirm addictive drinking.

Co-Dependent of the Month:

The people of the central Asian country of Kazakhstan, who likely will now be ruled by "President" Nursultan A. Nazarbayev, 66, until he dies. The Parliament of the oil-rich country of 15 million approved a package of constitutional amendments that remove term limits for the President. Kazakhstan has never had an election that outside observers have judged fair and free. His rise to the top is described by the Russian word, hitryi, which translates roughly as "tricky" or "cunning," like a fox, which describes many alcoholics. How about, "liars"? When opposition leader Zamenbek Nurkadilov was found dead from a gunshot wound to his chest and another through his head, police determined that the cause of death was suicide. Nazarbayev was "re-elected" President shortly after, "winning" 91% of the vote. He chooses to be viewed as an economic Westerner, going so far as to feign seeking advice from Harvard Business School's famous economic-development guru (and enabler) Michael Porter by flying him to Kazakhstan. While Porter says, "He really wants his country to be a success in a market economy," the three-hour lunch with Nazarbeyev was punctuated by numerous vodka toasts. He reportedly has been seen downing 48 ounces of vodka in a single day. So far, he's considered a relatively "soft" dictator, even while running a power structure that is described as "totally corrupt" by another opposition leader, Zharmakhan Tuyakbay, who adds, "He thinks he is the Messiah." Unfortunately, Zimbabwe's ruler Robert Mugabe was also a less-than-totally-despotic dictator for the first 20 years of his reign, but made a U-turn about seven years ago. Zimbabwe now suffers from 80% unemployment, annual inflation of some 3,000% and unspeakable horrors. The problem with alcoholics is we cannot predict how destructive their behaviors may become, or when.

Enabler of the Month:

The United States government, again enabling North Korean despot Kim Jong Il. I wrote in the "codependent of the month" section of the July 2006 issue, "The six nations attempting to control Kim Jong Il's North Korea qualify for codependents of the month, and perhaps the decade. Like any other addict, Kim makes numerous promises he never keeps. Like other codependents, those dealing with him try negotiation, logic and reason. As pointed out in Alcoholism Myths and Realities: Removing the Stigma of Society's Most Destructive Disease, 'Attempting to negotiate with a brain affected by alcoholism is like trying to be rational with a reptile....The brain of the practicing alcoholic, soaked in acetaldehyde, is not a rational one. The addict cannot see that his troubles extend any further than your toes, which he will crush if given the opportunity.'"

Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, John R. Bolton (now a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute), is my kind of non-enabler. He wrote an op-ed piece for The Wall Street Journal on May 18 in which he castigated the Bush administration for being unwilling to "just say no." On February 13, the Six-Party Talks in Beijing ratified a bilateral agreement between the U.S. and North Korea, providing that Pyongyang would within 60 days "shut down and seal for the purpose of eventual abandonment" the Yongbyon nuclear facility and readmit inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency. Instead, more than 100 days later, North Korea is demanding that $25 million in funds it likely made from counterfeiting U.S. currency (the first country since Hitler's Germany to counterfeit another's currency--and high-quality, too), money laundering and drug running that were frozen by U.S. officials be unfrozen and returned. As Bolton wrote, it's the North's (and I would add, the addict's) classic style: "Negotiate hard to reach an agreement, sign it, and then start renegotiating, not to mention violating the agreement at will." The dangerous precedent, just as with addicts we personally know, is that the U.S. gave in, even though there was no connection in the bilateral agreement between returning the funds and shutting down the nuclear program. Addicts don't stop pressing for more and, indeed, North Korea is doing just that. Addicts--and governments headed by despots--who sense weakness, see meal tickets. U.S. Deputy Assistant Treasury Secretary Daniel Glaser said, "We have assurances the funds are going to be transferred to a bank in Beijing to be used for humanitarian and educational purposes." If a street drunk uses the funds we drop in his cup for food, we have enabled if he uses the proceeds from a stolen stereo to buy booze. Oh, and I won't ever again hit you or spend your money without your approval or forget to pick up the kids or cheat on you or....

Sometimes, it takes an addict:

Former Russian president Boris Yeltsin, dead of cardiovascular problems at age 76. Except for the fact that he didn't seem to crave totalitarian power--but given Soviet circumstances, he may have not been in a position to wield it--he exhibited many of the classic symptoms of middle- to late-stage alcoholism while in power. He was erratic and he thrived on crises, seemed bored by normalcy, was guided not so much by reason as gut instinct and was defiant. He went into tirades during which he publicly criticized communist party leadership during Gorbachev's perestroika, including Gorbachev and even his wife Raisa, resulting in his expulsion from the Politburo. When elected president of the Russian Federation in 1991, he wasted little time in battling hardliners who opposed Gorbachev, who still presided over the failing Soviet Union. When hardliners opposed to perestroika sent tanks into Moscow, Yeltsin climbed aboard one, making a mockery of the rebellion. When the Soviet Union ceased to exist on December 31, 1991, Yeltsin launched the economic reform that led to far freer markets in Russia than ever before, bumbling though it may have been.

During his eight-year tenure as Russian president, he repeatedly promoted and demoted ministers and bureaucrats (at least he didn't fire and kill them as Stalin did). He disappeared for weeks or months with "health" problems and when he reappeared had bursts of activity and berated his underlings for poor performance during his absence. He disbanded parliament in September 1993, later writing that he was fully aware that his actions were unconstitutional--but by twisting rules, he helped create a new country. He became known as an obvious drunk, even if The Los Angeles Times' two-(newspaper-sized) page obituary barely alluded even to his drinking (he "would disappear for weeks or months with health problems worsened by a reported fondness for vodka," in the 20th paragraph; The Economist was more blunt, pointing out in the 3rd paragraph of its far shorter obit that he was "frequently drunk"). In March 1998, The Economist wrote, "Often unpredictable, President Boris Yeltsin’s behavior veered this week towards the incomprehensible. Returning to work from a real or feigned illness on Monday morning, he sacked his prime minister of five years' standing without appearing to have any very clear idea of why he was doing so....[He also sacked] a first-deputy prime minister, Anatoly Chubais, whom he had pledged publicly a month before to keep in the government until at least 2000." Yet it was his heavy drinking--we'll call it alcoholism--that made him the man he was, willing to take risks that few sober people would ever chance. In his case, the world got lucky--although it's possible that if a sober and determined follower of Gorbachev had taken control, the privatizations that allowed so much to fall into the hands of thugs would have turned out better.

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.

Public Policy Recommendation of the Month

Allow Admission of Prior Bad Acts

The judge in the Phil Spector case, Larry P. Fidler, has allowed admission of testimony by four women whose stories appear similar to that which Lana Clarkson might have told had she lived. However, he rejected prosecutors' requests to introduce six other incidents into evidence. Two misdemeanor gun charges from the 1970s were considered too old; others, including one in which Spector allegedly pushed the barrel of a gun into a woman's cheek were ruled too dissimilar to be "relevant." The law generally proscribes the introduction of evidence of prior bad acts.

It should not.

Prior bad acts can show that a defendant has a propensity to commit crime. This is particularly true if the person was an active alcoholic during the commission of the prior misbehaviors as well as the one for which he or she is being prosecuted.

Defense attorney Bruce Cutler, in attempting to block testimony by women who alleged they were previous victims of Spector's, argued that none of the allegations were true. "They are not victims of any crime and we know that because they filed no criminal action." However, failure to file a criminal complaint is not proof of the non-existence of a crime, particularly when the crime involves a celebrity in what would have been a "he said-she said" case. All of the women who allege that Spector pulled a gun on them were alone with him. Those looking for fame are not likely to press charges against influental people who can help them.

One of the promises a plaintiff or witness makes in a trial is to tell the truth "and the whole truth." Testimony should be heard by anyone who can shed light on the defendant's motives, which include a need to wield power resulting from egomania rooted in alcoholism. Let the jury sort it out.


Dear Doug: Mommie Dearest

Dear Doug:

My mother and I have not gotten along since my early school years, when she frequently embarrassed me in front of my friends. Unfortunately, this made me hesitate before inviting her to my upcoming wedding, but since she's my only living relative I felt she should give me away.

She was so excited she had me invite her friends. When she found out about the open bar we will have at the reception, her friends turned out to be her drinking buddies.

My mother is volatile and unpredictable. In one recent fit of anger, she made ugly remarks about my wedding; a week later, she acted as if such comments were never made. I don't know how to un-invite her, but I really don't want my in-laws to meet her. What should I do?


Daughter Dearest

. . . .

Dear Codependent,

Other columnists would tell you eventually your in-laws will meet her so you may as well bite the bullet now. I would agree.

They might suggest that you not invite the drinking buddies, but if you do have the bartenders keep an eye on them. They'd suggest asking a friend or even hiring someone to watch over your mother and to keep her from drinking too much and causing problems. Since it's too late for other measures, I would reluctantly agree but would suggest the "hiring" idea since you want someone who can forcibly whisk her (and her friends if need be) from the reception so she doesn't ruin the most important day of your life.

However, this needs to be taken much further. Because of the stigma of alcoholism, you refrained from calling a spade a spade. I will. Your mother's an alcoholic. She needs sobriety and will become a much better person for it. There may be nothing you can do before your wedding. However, you may be able to use the wedding to set the stage for intervention.

Hire an extra videographer, whose job will be to discreetly focus on your mother's behaviors. While she may not act out, the odds are at some point she will. You can use the video of her misbehaviors as the centerpiece evidence at an intervention. Proof of having acted badly at your wedding will not only serve as a powerful incentive to try sobriety, but also as a permanent reminder, which may keep her sober.

To help you get past the stigma preventing you from accepting the fact of alcoholism in your mother, which is a prerequisite for setting the stage for intervention, I would recommend that you read Alcoholism Myths and Realities: Removing the Stigma of Society's Most Destructive Disease. Then, so you can uncompromisingly disenable with a clear conscience, read Drunks, Drugs & Debits from page 1 through at least page 235, along with Chapter 12.

(Source for story idea: Annie's Mailbox, May 10, 2007.)

Prevent Tragedy Foundation

"Smokers Take More Sick Leave, Make Poorer Workers."

So said a Bloomberg headline, reporting what we already knew--smokers are less healthy than non-smokers. A Swedish study found that smokers took an average 34 sick days a year, with 20 taken by those who never smoked. The overall average of 25 days a year far exceeds the United States average of nine.

Let's assume that the percentage difference is similar in the U.S., and the far higher number of sick days is a result of the disincentive effect of Swedish socialism. Is it really the smoking-- or is the smoking an indication of something else that instead may be the underlying cause of less healthy and productive workers?

A study of almost 5,500 women entering the U.S. Navy in 1996 and 1997 found that smokers were more likely to be discharged for medical reasons, bad behavior, misconduct, drug misuse and personality disorders compared to non-smokers. All of these except medical reasons have no direct relation to smoking, which does not cause distortions of perception and memory. Since about a third of smokers in the U.S. are alcoholics, all of the reasons for discharge, including medical reasons, are best explained by alcoholism.

The headline should have read, "Alcoholics Outed by Smoking in Study; They Take More Sick Leave, Make Poorer Workers." Unfortunately, since addictive drinking is often hidden, we need to rely on inferences. Smoking is one such hint--but it's a good one.

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

"PUBLIC HUMILIATION IN THE INTERNET ERA: Visitors at a park in Mason, Ohio, called police after an apparently drunk man climbed into his pickup truck and started driving around, including near the children's play area. When an officer arrived, "I observed [the suspect] to be wearing a very skimpy woman's ... bikini with two tan water balloons taped to the top to simulate two woman's breasts and a pair of pink Speedo flip-flop sandals," Officer Scott Miller said in his report. Steven S. Cole, 46, a volunteer firefighter who had emergency lights on his truck, was also wearing a blond wig, and allegedly had a blood alcohol level of .174 percent. He explained he was on his way to a contest at a "gay bar"; police found more wigs, a pair of silver go-go boots, beer, and other items in his truck. Cole was charged with drunken driving, having an open container, public indecency and disorderly conduct. (Cincinnati Enquirer) ...But since police released his booking photos and they're all over the web, they really need to drop the charges to avoid Double Jeopardy."

Crazy, bizarre and downright stupid behaviors are all evidence of alcoholism. Steven Cole's behaviors qualify. Of course he should be booked for DUI and suffer the consequences, even if Randy facetiously suggests that he's already suffered enough to dissuade him from ever again getting behind the wheel of a car while drunk. But since we really don't know how much pain any one addict needs, the pictures should be considered a bonus and justice should come down as hard on him as on anyone else convicted of DUI.

This story is reminiscent of others in which alcoholics have found themselves in, shall we say, sensitive positions. A few from my archives include a fire chief, arrested and convicted after being found in a compromising position with a neighbor's lamb; a man convicted of drinking and driving, and then allowing his 8-year-old son to drive the car ("I was teaching him how to drive"); a woman arrested for DUI and then for simple assault after grabbing the arresting officer's genitals four times while twice being administered breath tests; the Israeli ambassador to El Salvador, recalled after he was found drunk and naked with sex toys lying nearby in the yard of his official residence; and a woman who ran over a stop sign in her SUV, dragged it by the undercarriage and was found completely nude by arresting officers. Although police detected "a strong odor of alcohol in the SUV," she claimed she had drunk just "one beer." Yup, just like the rest of them.

(Story and tagline from "This is True," copyright 2007 by Randy Cassingham, used with permission.)

Visit www.thisistrue.com for free subscriptions


To view reader's comments on last month's Thorburn Addiction Report and Doug's responses please visit the Thorburn Weblog at PrevenTragedy.com.

Doug frequently posts alcoholism-related articles, as well as his responses, so be sure to check back often.

Thorburn Weblog

Doug's new book, Alcoholism Myths and Realities, is now available at
GaltPublishing.com, Amazon.com and bookstores near you.

Rave reviews include:

"Every policymaker in America needs to read your book exposing the myths of chemical addiction...Excellent book."
— Jim Ramstad, Member of U.S. Congress (MN)

"My father died of alcoholism. His father died of alcoholism. Three generations of alcoholism is enough. Now is the time to abandon superstition and pseudoscience, to debunk the myths surrounding alcoholism, and to apply science to solving this problem. Doug Thorburn's book is a model example of how this should be done. Read it and be prepared to change your thinking on this important topic. When enough of us understand what is really going on with alcoholism, society can make the shift from treatment to prevention and intervention."
— Michael Shermer, publisher, Skeptic Magazine and columnist, Scientific American

Buy your copy of Alcoholism Myths and Realities for only $14.95 or get the whole collection PLUS a two-hour audio cassette from Galt Publishing for just $49.95 plus tax and shipping. That's a $72.75 value for only $49.95.

To order online, click the following link (be sure to put "TAR SPECIAL" in the comments section of the order form.) Orders can also be placed by phone: 800-482-9424 OR fax: 818-363-3111.
If you wish to pay by check, send the appropriate payment with your shipping information and the words "TAR SPECIAL" in the "memo" section of your check to: PO Box 7777, Northridge, CA 91327.

To purchase any of the above Thorburn books, go to www.galtpublishing.com

Click here to test someone you know for behaviorial indications of addiction.

Have you visited the Prevent Tragedy Foundation" The Prevent Tragedy Foundation is a tax-exempt 501c-3 organization, the goal of which is to educate the general public on the need for early detection of alcohol and other drug addiction. The Foundation is intended to answer a question that has been all-but-ignored by similar organizations: what does alcoholism look like before it becomes obvious"

Click here to visit the Prevent Tragedy Foundation


The Thorburn Addiction Report is a free newsletter published by Galt Publishing and PrevenTragedy.com. Subscibe by visiting our web site at www.PrevenTragedy.com.

The Thorburn Addiction Report is available to newspapers as a regular feature column.
Inquiries are invited.

Copyright Doug Thorburn All Rights Reserved.

ALL broadcast, publication, retransmission to e-mail lists, WWW or any other copying or storage, in any medium, online or not, is strictly prohibited without prior written permission from the author. Manual forwarding by e-mail to friends is allowed if 1) the newsletter is forwarded in its entirety and 2) no fee is charged. Please forward no more than three issues to any one person -- after that, they should get their own free subscription. We appreciate people who report violations of our copyright to us.

TO COMMENT to the author,
send your email to report@preventragedy.com or write to
Doug Thorburn, P.O. Box 7777, Northridge, CA 91327-7777