July 2009 / Issue No. 49

In an effort to increase readership, we would appreciate your forwarding this entire issue to family, friends and associates, along with a suggestion that they subscribe.

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!

We attempt to post each report to the blog within a day of its arrival in your mailbox. Although we have posted little else, depending on time constraints and other factors, I may begin posting a weekly “Dear Doug” column. We’ll be interested in any thoughts you, our loyal readers, may have.

By the way, call us (800-482-9424) for deals on books you won’t be able to refuse. (They are also available, of course, at www.amazon.com or www.galtpublishing.com.) They make a terrific gift to teens and anyone thinking about becoming professionally or romantically involved with someone else! (…including other drivers, landlords, tenants, employers, employees, neighbors...)

Order Books Here

Michael Jackson was enabled to his death

In Drunks, Drugs & Debits: How to Recognize Addicts and Avoid Financial Abuse, I wrote: “The higher an addict’s social status, the greater the enabling, because the enablers have more to lose….Enabling is the reason so many talented people—Judy Garland, Marilyn Monroe, Richard Burton and John Belushi—die young; they are ‘helped’ to their graves by those around them.” Close people can’t tell the addict he needs to stop drinking and using if they are to protect their jobs, incomes and, in many cases, positions of status, prestige and power. Underlings can too easily be fired.

Let’s not confuse this with blaming enablers for addiction, a genetic disorder that results in biochemically processing a drug in such a way as to cause the afflicted person to sometimes act badly. It’s not their fault. However, disenabling provides the most certain path to recovery. Until every enabler stops protecting the addict from consequences of misbehaviors, the odds of permanent sobriety are greatly reduced. Michael Jackson, with his extraordinary talent and income-producing abilities, had everything going against him in ever attempting to lead a sober life: few would do anything to risk their prestige or money they could make as a result of catering to him or selling his talents.

Still, not all use was hidden. According to insiders, Jackson referred to white wine as "Jesus juice" and red wine as "Jesus blood." Close persons had long been aware that he usually drank wine out of soda cans in an effort to hide the consumption. Jurors in his child abuse trial heard flight attendant Cynthia Bell explain, “Mr. Jackson is a very private drinker.” On a flight in 2003 she served him wine in a Diet Coke can. Almost anyone who hides his booze is already a late-stage alcoholic. His handlers knew of various admissions into and "graduations" from rehab for addiction to pain killers, including Demerol and morphine. It’s interesting to note that any heroin addict will, in a pinch, substitute these drugs, as well as Oxycontin and Vicodin. The reverse is also true.

Jackson reportedly got so inebriated on airplanes while gulping "soda" that a former business adviser asked Jackson's security detail how wine could throw so big a punch. It was simple: he combined pills with the booze. I explained in Drunks, Drugs & Debits that different drugs in combination potentiate each other, becoming far more powerful than simply a double-dose of one drug. Since Jackson reportedly has owed as much as $62,000 to a Beverly Hills pharmacy we could reasonably conclude that Jackson combined enormous quantities of such drugs.

Jackson may have undergone as many as 50 facial reconstructions. He once spent $70,000 on surveillance equipment so he could spy on his own staff (his entire house was wired). Handlers claim that he sometimes acted like a 12-year old and could be extraordinarily vindictive, destroying the reputations and lives of others when given the chance. Recovering addicts with ten or fifteen years' sobriety report they were capable of any behavior while using, including doing bizarre things to their bodies, spying on others, acting like children and committing acts of revenge even against those for whom they feigned love.

Jackson’s life was filled with the drama we see so often in the lives of addicts. According to one biographer, there was almost never a time when he was free of crisis or chaos. His cash-flow situation was, for years, reportedly dire. The former wife of private investigator Anthony Pelicano, Kat, remembers him at her house in August 1993 appearing very high, nodding out and drinking glass after glass of “orange soda.” He checked himself into detox a few months later, which was followed by a number of additional attempts at rehab. It’s not that he wasn’t forced into rehab; it’s that the enablers were always there for him after he got out. He settled the early molestation case for a reportedly very high price, only to go through it all again in the mid-2000s. Money bought him freedom, but at the ultimate price.

Sadly, as is true of most addicts, there were likely hundreds of incidents for which handlers, family, friends and law enforcers could have acted to stem the inevitable progression into obvious late-stage addiction. To think that the Michael Jackson of twenty years ago could have turned into what he died as boggles the mind. Psychotropic drug addiction respects no boundaries either in terms of who is afflicted or the resulting behaviors. All that is necessary is the right genes, access to the drug and, to greatly increase the odds for a continuation of active addiction, an inability or unwillingness on the part of those who could intervene to do so.

Jackson, with his wealth and ability to produce income, didn’t stand a chance. As so many great alcoholism authorities have said, wealth is the biggest enabler. Michael Jackson’s life, which can’t be understood without comprehending the fundamental idea of substance addiction as described in Drunks, Drugs & Debits, is a testament to this truism.


Runners-up for top story of the month:

Longtime “Tonight Show” sidekick Ed McMahon, dead at age 86. McMahon, whose life was partially chronicled in these pages in July 2008 edition of TAR, sued his insurer and won $7.2 million in a settlement over mold that allegedly killed his dog Muffin in the early 2000s. That’s one way to get your money back after blowing through a reported $200 million net worth. More recently, he sued Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, two doctors and the owner of the home where he fell and broke his neck some 30 months ago. Like other addicts, he likely triggered alcoholism at an early age and was, therefore, a practicing alcoholic while he served as a fighter pilot instructor for four years in the Marine Corps, a pilot of spotter planes during the Korean War, Philadelphia’s “Mr. Television” while serving as host for 13 programs, the spokesman for at least 37 banks around the country in the early 1980s, the spokesman for American Family Publishers’ family sweepstakes for a couple of decades, the pitchman for hundreds of other products and services including Budweiser beer and Alpo dog food, and Johnny Carson’s comedy foil as “Big Ed” for three decades. Except for the mishandling of money, he was apparently a highly functional alcoholic, having missed only three tapings of “The Tonight Show” in 30 years. “Ed is the announcer of the show,” Carson once told his viewers, “only because he never passed the bar. In fact, Ed has never passed any bar.” While fans loved Big Ed, those who were on the receiving end of his financial travails likely did not. While appearing on “Larry King Live” with his third wife, Pamela Hurn, he blamed two divorces, bad money management and bad investments for his woes. “I made a lot of money, but you can spend a lot of money.” He forgot to mention what made him spend that money, engage in poor money management and go through two divorces: alcoholism.

Under watch:

In a recent 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, a case is presented for which the evidence of alcoholism is in the behavior itself.

Dr. Conrad Murray, the cardiologist who was with Michael Jackson when he went into cardiac arrest. He filed for bankruptcy in 1992. If that were all, he wouldn’t be on our radar. However, this was followed by five tax liens totaling more than $44,000 between 1993 and 2003. While this would cause our antennae to go up, there was more. Three judgments were filed in 2008 against him or his company, Global Cardiovascular Associates, in Clark County, Nevada (home to Las Vegas), for more than $434,000, including $71,000 for education loans. Two other cases are pending involving allegations that Murray owes them a total of $355,000. But it’s often the small stuff that alerts us to likely alcoholism. In December he was hit with a nearly $3,700 judgment for failure to pay child support and his wages were garnished for almost $1,500 by a credit card company. He apparently still owes $940 in fines and penalties for driving with an expired license plate and no proof of insurance in 2000. Serial financial problems, divorce, disputing over relatively minor amounts, and driving with an expired license plate are all symptomatic of alcohol or other-drug addiction.

Co-dependent of the month:

AEG Live
, the concert promoter that was putting on the Michael Jackson London event, who paid Dr. Conrad Murray—you know, the one with the debts, judgments, tax liens and bankruptcy—who was selected at Michael Jackson’s insistence. Anyone care to guess why Jackson, who said he had “rapport” with him, insisted he be hired?

Enablers of the month:

Nutritionist and registered nurse Cherilyn Lee
, 56, who said, despite Michael Jackson’s repeated demands for the heavyweight drug Diprivan, which is given intravenously for anesthesia, “He wasn’t looking to get high or feel good and sedated from drugs. This was a person who was not on drugs.” Believing his addict-talk, she quoted Jackson: “I don’t like drugs. I don’t want any drugs.” She explained that he “just wanted more energy.” Lee spoke out in an effort to “protect” Jackson’s reputation from what she considers unfounded allegations of drug “abuse.” Unfortunately, Ms. Lee, given Jackson’s extraordinarily bizarre behaviors, his reputation would suffer if he had not been a poly-drug addict. The fact that you have overlooked the enormous weight of evidence for his drug addiction qualifies you as one of the great enablers of all time.

R & B singer Chris Brown’s legal team who advised him to let his assault case against former girlfriend, pop star Rihanna, 21, work its way through the system. His lawyer admitted that the performer for months had wanted to “take responsibility” for the altercation and tell the public that domestic violence is “not acceptable.” Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Patricia Schnegg ordered a 10-yard buffer between the two at parties and public events, while sentencing him to a yearlong domestic violence prevention class and 1,400 hours of “community labor.” That should teach the sober Brown, 20, to never hit anyone. The issue of what is done about the monster he apparently becomes when drinking was not addressed, for example, by ordering him into a program that might encourage him to stay off the hooch that likely causes his personality to change from a very likeable and rational Mr. Hyde to a rather monstrous Dr. Jekyll.

Disenablers of the month:

Michael Jackson’s nanny, Grace Rwaramba
, 42, who was fired in December 2008 for proposing an intervention for Michael. “He didn’t want to listen,” she says. She added, “That was one of the times he let me go.” At least you tried, Grace. But you had to battle the likes of Cherilyn Lee and her cohorts. You didn’t stand a chance.

University of Southern California sociologist Julie Albright, who observed that celebrity doctors may have questionable pasts or significant debts. “Some of these people might not be the most successful doctors, so the money will [not only allow them to make large amounts of money, but also] buy their complicity in fueling a drug” addiction. Elvis had such a doctor, and so did Anna Nicole Smith and Marilyn Monroe. While Albright didn’t specifically mention Dr. Conrad Murray, the implication is clear.

Author and alternative medical practitioner Deepak Chopra, who wrote that his friend Michael Jackson “was surrounded by enablers, including a shameful plethora of M.D.s in Los Angeles and elsewhere who supplied him with prescription drugs. As many times as he would candidly confess that he had a problem, the conversation always ended with a deflection and denial.” Good for you, Deepak, in recognizing that those who supplied the drugs were shameful enablers.

Sometimes, it takes an addict:

Michael Jackson
is not the only star who was likely driven by and succumbed to alcohol and other-drug addiction. Ironically, Jackson kept statues of Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe at his Neverland ranch. He bought the publishing rights to the songs of John Lennon’s Beatles. Those whose stars burned brighter after death according to one newspaper report, perhaps because of their early demise, include a whose-who of addicts: “Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain, Roberto Clemente, Steve Prefontaine, Steve McQueen, Judy Garland, Hank Williams and Barbaro.” Except for the great long-distance runner Prefontaine and the horse, Barbaro, they were all addicts.

Although we can’t be certain when Jackson triggered his addiction, we know that alcoholism usually begins during the first drinking episode at an average age of 13. This could explain something that struck Michael Jackson: The Man Behind the Mask co-author Stacy Brown: “His fascination with being recognized as the best and the biggest, the most influential. His primary interest was always Elvis Presley. He was on a mission that he was going to be bigger than Elvis.” He probably succeeded. And that takes an addict.

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.

Father Joseph C. Martin’s Chalk Talks on Alcohol

Fr. Martin died March 9, which I unfortunately overlooked. He should have had top billing in the April TAR section “Sometimes it takes an addict.” It’s time to make up for that omission.

Fr. Martin’s book, which was originally in hardcover with the title No Laughing Matter, evolved from a series of lectures developed and delivered in the 1970s for business and government, particularly the armed services. He credited Austin Ripley and Dr. Walter Green of Guest House, a Lake Orion, Michigan treatment facility for the clergy founded and operated by Ripley, for teaching him everything he knew about alcoholism. He began studying the subject in 1958, several years after he had been forced into a program of sobriety by the Archdiocese, as a result of excessive drinking and increasingly erratic behaviors. Note the implication that alcoholism isn’t a subject about which even addicts in early recovery understand: Martin spent several years apparently learning little or nothing of value and then over a dozen years learning enough to allow him to create a lecture series, and another decade before his book was published. Perhaps it’s an indication of how few people had an inkling about alcoholism decades ago.

Fr. Martin’s magnificent little book was an essential component in helping me to grasp the idea of alcoholism. His definition of an alcoholic, someone whose drinking causes serious life problems, was the half-way point between the commonly accepted definition, “loss of control over use” (which is a late-stage symptom) and the definition I used in my first book, Drunks, Drugs & Debits: How to Recognize Addicts and Avoid Financial Abuse, requiring repeated negative consequences to oneself or others and which the user is incapable of seeing or grasping due to the user’s biochemistry. Although Fr. Martin’s definition described a symptom, it’s an earlier one and as such was a crucial stepping-stone to creating my own. His oft-quoted, “What causes trouble is trouble, and if your alcohol causes trouble, then alcohol is a problem for you,” is one of the keys to identifying alcoholism. This key is in the middle of a paragraph in which he describes a prisoner serving a twenty-to-life sentence who began attending AA meetings in prison only because his cell-mate invited him and he had nothing else to do. The man “had been drunk only three times in his life. The first time he lost his arm in an accident with a machine. The second time he lost his family. And the third time he committed the crime that lost him his freedom. He concluded, correctly, that he is an alcoholic.” Alcohol caused trouble, so the trouble was alcohol.

Fr. Martin asked the reader to compare this with one’s experience. Maybe the reader has commented about a friend, “Well, yes, he (or she) drinks, a lot, but it’s not that bad yet.” Martin suggested that waiting until tragedy happens before concluding that maybe there is a bit of a problem with the drinking is insane. This idea was probably instrumental in helping me to understand the need to identify early-stage alcoholics, the main topic of my first three books: Drunks, Drugs & Debits: How to Recognize Addicts and Avoid Financial Abuse; and Get Out of the Way!: How to Identify and Avoid a Driver Under the Influence.

Fr. Martin explained in everyday language many basic precepts about alcoholism: sobriety must come before any psychiatric counseling; treat alcoholism as the primary disorder; we don’t need to wait for the patient to say he is ready for sobriety; drinking is the number one drug problem; heavy drinking is in many cases a euphemism for alcoholism; we can recognize alcoholism based on its symptoms; one of the great misconceptions about alcoholism is that a person functioning adequately can’t possibly be an alcoholic; and, a crucial impetus for me to begin writing, no fancy degrees are needed to recognize the disease.

Even some of the defects in Chalk Talks were crucial in inspiring me. At one point Fr. Martin wrote, “There are many additional symptoms of alcoholism, and much of the available literature treats them in great detail.” I wrote “Where?” in the margin. I never found them, which is one of the main reasons I began writing my books. He discussed what he calls the early symptoms: gulping, sneaking, drinking in the mornings, an attempt to control one’s drinking (as he pointed out, normal drinkers have nothing to control!), and lying about one’s drinking. This error, too, was instrumental in getting me to write: he thought that plenty of others described the symptoms and proceeded to write about what he thought were early-stage symptoms, seemingly unaware that he described middle-stage clues. This was one of my wake-up calls for the need to write about real early-stage symptoms, which involve misbehaviors.

While Chalk Talks is a great book, these are not Fr. Martin’s only errors. He wrote that families, friends and co-workers “know” there is a “drinking problem.” He contradicted his own words in describing the best secretary in an office who has more good days than bad, functions well and about whom nothing is done “because we feel that good performance and alcoholism just can’t go hand in hand.” He also erred in suggesting that the rate of alcoholism is sky high among drinking members belonging to religious groups that forbid the use of alcohol because they “drink with guilt, and are therefore very prone to alcoholism.” No, a genetic predisposition to alcoholism is essential if the disease is to be triggered. He discussed the idea that emotions rule intellect and since the resulting actions and decisions make no sense, we conclude the person is insane or unbalanced and send the person to a psychiatrist, while everyone “knows” there is a drinking problem. No, most people think the likes of Octomom is just nuts.

Martin highlighted the crucial importance of identifying and treating alcoholics early. From stories of alcoholics like the one who rarely got drunk until his family was asleep, after which he’d “drink himself into oblivion,” he correctly got the idea that behavioral clues are needed. While he didn’t completely develop the idea, he began to address it. He also emphasized that alcoholics don’t go into a program of sobriety willingly and devoted much of the last half of his book to the idea of pain as a positive force in the alcoholic’s life, making the addict responsible for his behavior and intervening with love.

Despite its flaws, Fr. Martin’s book is one of my top ten in the field of alcoholism and I strongly recommend it.

If you think this review might be helpful for Amazon.com patrons, please give it your positive vote by following the link here.

Image Daughter abuse

Thief with infant needs consequences—for the sake of the baby

Dear Doug:

A close friend lets her infant son play with toys she puts in the bottom of her grocery cart taken from the store while shopping. She “forgets” to pay for these items. I’ve warned her about this, but she hasn’t been caught. In addition, she and her husband are maxing out their credit cards on jewelry, sporting events and fancy dinners intending to file for bankruptcy. I had to take a second job to make ends meet and pay all of my bills. I’m jealous. What should I do?



. . . . .

Dear Codependent,

Other columnists would rightly suggest you drop her as a friend because she is a cheat and a thief and lacks integrity. No question about it. However, they wouldn’t take it a step further and contemplate the idea of setting her up for an arrest at the next store she plays her little game with.

While such a tack might seem intrusive and would be risky, there’s a fly in the ointment with which you should be concerned: her infant son. There is at least an 80% correlation between her felonious behaviors and alcoholism. Therefore, she and her husband are possible co-alcoholics. The longer they get away with such immoral but ego-inflating behavior, the worse their behaviors will become. Neglect if not abuse of the child could easily be occurring behind closed doors.

You say she’s a “close” friend. If you really care about her and her family, you will do anything you can to assist her in experiencing appropriate consequences for misbehaviors, even if that means loss of parental rights for a period of time. Only when pain has begun to strike is the stage set for an intervention. If you’re close enough, you should have access to other close friends and family. Plan accordingly: begin to educate them (as well as yourself—my books would be a terrific start) and get a qualified interventionist involved now.

(Source for story idea: Annie’s Mailbox, June 26, 2009.)


And, because I really can’t resist and a particularly important point is made, we’ve got another bonus Dear Doug in this issue.

Dear Doug,

My 44-year-old husband of 19 years died of cancer only a few months ago. While he was kind, funny and talented, he was also an alcoholic. The last year of his life was the best because he got sober and focused on our relationship.

My husband’s family is dysfunctional and disconnected from each other. Except for his mother, he wasn’t close to any of them. Though she’s kind and sensitive, she’s anxious and depressed. She is divorced from my father-in-law, who is also an alcoholic.

Time heals, and I no longer have the deep-rooted grief that his family still has. I’m trying to move on with my life. How do I tell the in-laws that their grief is a downer and I really don’t want to keep in touch with them any longer?


Ready to move on

. . . . .

Dear Codependent,

Other columnists might suggest you don’t have to be rude to your in-laws in order to see less of them and that when visits or phone calls occur, be gracious and recommend grief counseling and The Compassionate Friends (compassionatefriends.org) at 877-969-0010 for the parents.

Such columnists wouldn’t touch the idea that his family is likely filled with alcoholics and that the reason they are less able to deal appropriately with grief is because of either direct or indirect alcoholism.

Alcoholics tend to exhibit extreme emotional reactions. As James Graham explains in his Secret History of Alcoholism, “The same people who get extremely upset over imagined slights and have crying jags when drinking are incapable of normal emotional responses to real events.” People closely involved with alcoholics, too, can become similarly emotionally messed up.

Alcoholics cannot be effectively counseled. While The Compassionate Friends is an excellent source for healthy non-addicted people who have lost a child, addicts waste the group’s time and money. The family likely consists of numerous alcohol and other-drug addicts. While I might be somewhat adventuresome and actually tell the next overemotional caller that you’d be delighted to escort him to either an AA or Al-Anon meeting, most people would be better off by simply explaining you can’t talk now. Keep repeating, until they get tired of calling.

By the way, you experienced an opportunity few are ever offered: a year in a life with a sober alcoholic, after having suffered with him for years. You say he was kind, funny and talented, while admitting that the year of sobriety was the best one of your marriage. Perhaps you could use this in any brief chats with the family: “I miss him, too, especially since he got sober in the last year. It really was a remarkable year, too, because he was no longer the center of his universe. I finally saw what a truly wonderful man he really was.” Any alcoholic will readily agree with you, rave at how wonderful it is that he got sober, get off the phone and start drinking and, perhaps, never call you again. Just a thought.

(Source for story idea: Annie’s Mailbox, July 5, 2009.)

“I don’t believe that alcohol makes you dangerous unless you are [at] the point [where] you are seeing double, or passed out.” “Have two beers and [you are] considered intoxicated.” “5-6 drinks doesn’t make you a danger.”

So said various comments responding to a Beacon Journal column on the statistical failure of DUI plates (affectionately known as “party plates”) in Ohio, which are special license plates intended to notify other drivers and authorities that the car being driven was involved in an arrest for DUI. I wouldn’t bother addressing these myths of alcoholism, since I’ve covered them in one form or another elsewhere in my books (especially in Alcoholism Myths and Realities and Get Out of the Way! How to Identify and Avoid a Driver Under the Influence), but because they are so typical of those perpetrated throughout the Internet we hardly risk overdoing it.

While a few of those commenting on the article attempted to correct the errors, their responses were incomplete and not all of the myths were addressed. The first myth is a classic, which shows the responder knows nothing about alcoholic egomania and addiction-driven reckless misbehaviors, which can be found in alcoholics at relatively moderate blood alcohol levels. The point of seeing double or passing out is usually well-past .24 percent (three times the legal limit for driving), while reckless misbehaviors are common in those alcoholics with a blood alcohol level (BAL) of .12 to .18 percent. The second is the sort of myth that gives DUI laws a bad rap. Two beers result in a BAL of no more than .04 percent for a 200-pound person, which after an hour drops to .025 percent. No other responders debunked either of these myths. I see them too often and am too busy writing these Reports to make commenting time-effective, but would love to see other addictionologists get involved and correct such nonsense.

The third myth, the idea that five or six drinks doesn’t make one a danger on the road, was addressed by someone who responded, “You gotta be joking….Let me know when you’re drinking and driving. I will stay the hell outta your way.” While probably a correct response (i.e., the original writer is likely an alcoholic), it’s technically flawed in that we need to know the drinker’s weight and period of time over which the alcohol was consumed to determine the BAL. A six-pack drunk by a 200-pound person over a six-hour period results in a .03 percent BAL, while six drinks in one hour will bring the BAL in a 120-pounder to .165 percent. The first is not alcoholic drinking and poses little danger to others, while the other is clear alcoholism in action and potentially lethal to others. If we are to educate, we need to be thorough and accurate. Similarly, another comment was, “If you think having 5-6 drinks doesn’t classify you as drunk, you must certainly be an alcoholic.” Again, we need to know the weight of the drinker and the time period over which it was drunk to determine this.

By the way, some of the comments on the plate program, for which results are mixed (the overall crash rate has dropped 16% while the number of alcohol-related fatalities per 1,000 crashes has rocketed up 21%), were interesting. Several figured that the “Scarlet Letter” at least alerts others, as well as authorities, that the driver may be dangerous. Others, however, suggested the money would be put to better use in prevention programs and ignition interlock devices. I still prefer ankle bracelets, since alcoholics, once the BAL is high enough, think they’re invincible and can safely drive. Therefore, we really don’t want them drinking at all—and society, I believe, would be far better off if it were to proscribe drug use (including the drug alcohol) in those who have proven they can’t safely use (which a DUI generally proves) than in a war against drugs that can’t possibly be won.

Some of the other comments (but only about one in ten overall, if that) were fairly astute. They included: “I’d love to hear the story behind the car with ‘party plates’ I spotted last summer parked in the keyed-entry doctors-only parking lot a City Hospital;” “Drinking seems to grow balls on the offenders and I think it becomes their challenge;” and “[Yeah,] like drunks really care about humiliation.” The doctor with the plates is almost assuredly an addict (as are roughly 20% of all MDs). Drinking does indeed make the addict feel like he’s invincible and have a need to show off. Drunks care only about feeding their egos, which as several comments suggested they do by turning the “party plates” into badges of honor. The problem with comments is it takes a lot of reading to separate the wheat from the chaff.

For dozens of clues in other drivers’ behaviors on spotting the DUIs among them before they become tragically obvious (and lacking Ohio’s “party plates”), be sure to pick up a copy of Get Out of the Way! How to Identify and Avoid a Driver Under the Influence.

Alcoholic Antic-of-the-Month

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

“MORE CHICKEN GOODNESS: A Kentucky Fried Chicken store in St. Petersburg, Fla., called police to report a customer would not leave. When served his eight-piece chicken meal, Paul Congemi, 52, allegedly screamed "That's not my [expletive] food!", cursed employees, and then, when an employee started laughing at him, really got mad. When officers confronted Congemi, he reportedly told them, "Don't touch me. I am running for mayor, and once I get elected you will be fired." Sure enough, Congemi is a candidate for the office. When one officer asked him to step outside, Congemi replied, "I don't like you. You gave me a ticket." Officers gave him a warning, but Congemi refused to sign it. He did, however, try to give the officers some of his campaign literature. (St. Petersburg Times) ...Just don't count their votes before they hatch.”

The following could be a clue to an explanation for why Congemi seems like a nut case:

"I don't go to things at 9 o'clock in the morning like that." -- St. Petersburg mayoral candidate Paul Congemi, on why he missed a candidate forum.

(Story and tagline from This is True, copyright 2009 by Randy Cassingham, used with permission.)


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

Thorburn Blog

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.

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