Issue # 80 - Summer/Fall 2015

Viewing the new through the lens of alochol and other-drug addiction

Sorry it’s been so long since our last issue, which accounts for a lengthy one. It also accounts for a few somewhat “dated,” but timeless pieces. Our Top Story argues that pre-trial convictions, especially by those who are not supposed to make accusations and which cause immeasurable pain for both direct and indirect victims of accusations, are often explained by substance addiction in the accuser. Please read on, enjoy and pass around!


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

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

There is something for everyone!

Addiction Report Archives here

© 2015 by Doug Thorburn

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

All four books are available on Amazon, and the two e-books are available in multiple formats on Amazon and IPG.

The Media and Prosecutors Convict Six Baltimore Cops Before Trial. Odds of Addiction: High—and it’s Not the Accused.

Most addiction authorities believe it takes a decade for the typical spouse to begin to suspect alcoholism in the other spouse. Yet, alcoholism is triggered during the first heavy drinking episode—average age, 13—which means the spouse was likely an addict long before marriage. How could such a disease go unidentified for so long among people so close? The best explanation is that early- to middle-stage alcoholics are usually “functional,” can be extraordinary successful—and don’t look like what most think of as a “drunk.” As a result, alcoholics and prescription pill-poppers frequently use for decades, sporadically ruining relationships and destroying lives without anyone the wiser. Those who suspect alcoholism often don’t understand its relevance, have no idea they are enabling and don’t grasp the idea that it explains most everything, both positive and negative, about the life of the person who should be under scrutiny. They haven’t a clue that most “misbehaviors” fuel alcoholic egomania, often masterfully executed by wielding power over others capriciously. The exercise of such power may be relatively innocuous, such as belittling others and using vulgarities, or may be devastating, including murder and character assassination via false accusations.

The type of destructive behaviors an addict exerts is related to their underlying personality, the particular drug or drugs of choice, circumstances and environment. In particular, if an especially malevolent addict is not in a position to use violence, he or she may resort to the false accusation as a means to inflate the ego. As James Graham, in his classic The Secret History of Alcoholism, puts it:

“…The repertoire of available attack devices is determined by the social environment in which [the alcoholic] functions. Some alcoholics will physically attack others, but violence involves obvious risks—especially for a politician. False accusations not only involve minimal risk, but also give the alcoholic the satisfaction of demeaning the target of his attacks. There is also a bonus: he can feel superior to everyone who believes his lies.”

Graham describes the life and misbehaviors of Senator Joseph McCarthy; his infamous false accusations (surrounding kernels of truth, a method perfected by accomplished liars) were both a clue to and a result of his obvious alcoholism. Graham points out alcoholic prosecutors can do even more damage:

“If the alcoholic is a District Attorney, he may use his power to prosecute persons he knows are innocent. And if he does, his victims might suffer even more than those attacked by McCarthy. An alcoholic District Attorney has at his command something McCarthy never acquired: the prosecutorial power of a state.”

Graham describes the 1916 framing of two labor leaders, Thomas Mooney and Warren Billings, for a bomb blast that killed ten spectators during a Preparedness Day parade, by District Attorney Charles M. Fickert:

“He suppressed evidence, used false witnesses, and suborned perjury. And he was certainly an alcoholic. Years after the frame-up, Fickert was a derelict: out of work, divorced (rare in those years) on a charge of intemperance, a poorly-dressed public drunkard.”

Mooney and Billings spent 23 years in prison, “pardoned only after their alcoholic-engineered frame-up had become ‘America’s Dreyfus case,’ an international embarrassment.”

Graham also describes the case of the 1910s case of New York District Attorney Charles Whitman, who granted immunity to four felonious gamblers in return for false testimony against Police Lt. Charles Becker. Becker was accused of persuading a group of gambling house owners to hire killers to murder Henry Rosenthal, the owner of a competing New York gambling house. Whitman arranged for “ample time, and lots of rehearsals, to get their testimony down pat,” in which they swore Becker induced them to hire the gunmen. Despite a Court of Appeals overturning Becker’s conviction partly on the basis that, in their opinion, “three of the four gambler-witnesses [were] ‘indisputably…guilty of the murder…’”, a second trial found Becker guilty and sentenced him to death. Billy Sulzer, the Governor of New York at the time of the murder, was convinced of Becker’s innocence. Unfortunately, by the time Becker landed on death row, Charles Whitman had become Governor—the only person with the power to grant clemency. (Becker’s execution is considered by many to be the most bungled in the history of Sing Sing due to his massive size.)

Graham concludes his chapter on false accusers:

“Thousands of government officials, including prosecutors and other law enforcement officials, have the power to harm innocents. Because the disease is seldom diagnosed while in its highly dangerous early and middle stages, it is certain that large numbers of them are alcoholics.”

Few are in a better position to inflate the ego by making false accusations “stick” than law enforcers, especially prosecutors. Because journalists, like biographers and historians, have no clue to alcoholic symptoms and alcoholics often excel at hiding their use, they don’t know the relevance of addiction.

I’ve explained why addicts are likely instigators of riots in my books and in several previous issues of TAR available here, here and here. Riots are even more likely to occur where prosecutors make false or exaggerated statements involving murder, inciting rage in supporters of alleged victims. Trayvon Martin was, at 17, a budding young addict and, as a result, dangerous; because of defamatory statements made against his killer by (among others) the prosecutor, George Zimmerman’s exoneration on murder charges were followed by riots.

Florida State Attorney Angela Corey, who somehow managed to avoid a Grand Jury in bringing charges against Zimmerman, has been accused by lawyer, author and political commentator Harvard Professor Alan Dershowitz of filing a perjurious pre-trial affidavit that excluded critical exculpatory evidence. After the trial, Dershowitz excoriated Corey: “She was among the most irresponsible prosecutors I’ve seen in 50 years of litigating cases,” adding she should be disbarred for multiple violations of her oath of office. (A scathing piece on Corey, filled to the brim with alcoholic indicators can be found here.)

Freddie Gray
, 25, who was killed in a police transport van on the way to jail after being arrested in Baltimore, Maryland for possessing an allegedly illegal switchblade, had been involved in 20 criminal court cases (see “Runners-Up” below). These included several charges of drug possession, which in my work provides absolute proof of addiction (heavy drinking and/or any use of illegal drugs + behaviors harmful to others = substance addiction). The riots following Gray’s death were aggravated if not incited by the prosecutor, the State’s Attorney for Baltimore, Marilyn J. Mosby, 35. She brought murder charges against six police officers before a Grand Jury could even convene, arguing that a critical factor in Freddie Gray’s death was their failure to put a seat belt on him. Prof. Dershowitz likened Mosby’s behaviors with Corey’s, concluding “The mayor and state attorney have made it virtually impossible for these defendants to get a fair trial.” Prosecutors are supposed to be impartial; the accused, under English (as opposed to Napoleonic) Law are presumed innocent until proven guilty. The American Spectator points out that “criminalizing debatable acts of omission [the failure to put on a seat belt] is the mark not of an impartial prosecutor but a politicized one.” I suggest the misbehavior is an indication of addiction, even if deeply hidden. And as regular readers know, because substance addiction is a genetic disorder that causes misbehaviors, it should be viewed as the lesser moral failing than acting this way without benefit of bio-chemistry.

In issue # 57 of the Thorburn Addiction Report, I cited a 1987 article by Steven Waldman entitled, “Governing under the Influence; Washington alcoholics: their aides protect them, the media shields them.” Waldman reported numerous instances in which politicians in important positions were shielded, their alcoholism kept secret. They included the chairmen of the House Ways and Means committee, Armed Services Committee, the Agriculture Committee, the Finance Committee, a majority leader, a speaker of the House and a former vice-presidential running mate. Waldman accurately observed, “the more important a public official is, the less likely he will be forced to confront his problem drinking.” Marianne E. Brickley, recovering alcoholic and ex-wife of Michigan’s GOP Lt. Gov. James Brickley similarly said, “the higher the person’s social status the more that person is protected by others.” I expanded on this: the higher the social, business, financial or political status of the addict, the more enablers have to lose if the secret leaks out because enablers have their own positions of power, prestige, income and wealth tied to the alcoholic. Therefore, a key role of staff is to cover up for the boss.

In describing what is, to the addictionologist, obvious marks of alcoholism, journalists, biographers and historians almost always fail to even mention the possibility. In addition, staffers, employees, co-workers, family members and friends enable by covering up actual addictive use. Alcoholics often surround themselves with other alcoholics, ensuring that everyone has “something” on everyone else, further helping to impose a code of silence. This is the reason some organizations have a culture of graft and corruption.

As a result of the unawareness of biographers, historians and journalists, addiction may not be proven in public figures for decades, if ever. Countless biographies describe behaviors and levels of drinking that are best described as alcoholism, yet hardly any biographers ever identify it as such.* This includes figures much more public and destructive than any of the recent prosecutors who have made accusations with incomplete evidence—all of whom should be strongly suspected of alcoholism.

* A classic case is the esteemed historian Paul Johnson’s discussion of Karl Marx’s alcoholic behaviors in Ten Intellectuals, and his utter failure to identify Marx’s behaviors as rooted in obvious alcoholism.

In a similar instance, one of journalistic malfeasance, only the 13th article I read on Bruce Ivins, the 2001 anthrax killer, mentioned the fact he had been in rehab twice the year of his suicide. Incredibly, it was in the 28th paragraph and didn’t state he was, therefore, an alcoholic (the story is worth a re-read: issue # 42 of TAR).

Click here to buy any of Doug Thorburn's books on addiction!

Runners-up for top story of the month:

Freddie Gray, 25, dead from a spinal injury in a police van while being transported to jail, which spurred rioting and looting in Baltimore, Maryland. Gray apparently had a history of participating in “crash-for-cash” schemes in which people hurt themselves and blame others so they can collect sometimes large settlements. Attorneys for the six police officers charged in Gray’s death accuse prosecutors, including Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, of steering investigators away from such allegations—information that would obviously help their defense. Apparently, Assistant States’ Attorney Janice Bledsoe told police investigators, who wanted to follow up on the evidence, “not to do the defense attorneys’ jobs for them.” Sorry, Ms. Bledsoe and Ms. Mosby, prosecutors are required to share any exculpatory evidence with defense attorneys—that’s why we are not North Korea. Bledsoe previously represented Gray in 2012 in a guilty plea for cocaine possession; Gray had been involved in 20 criminal cases, five of which were pending when he died. If he had been coerced into abstinence, he would probably be alive today, the riots would not have occurred, the criminal justice system would be busy with other pressing matters and six police officers wouldn’t be at risk of having their careers ruined and serving time in prison.

Richard W. Matt
, 49, and David Sweat, 35, escapees from upstate New York Clinton Correctional Facility, a maximum security prison; the pair were on the lam for several weeks before law enforcement finally tracked them down. In 1997, Matt abducted and tortured his 72-year-old boss and, after breaking his neck, cut up his body and threw the parts in the Niagara River. He fled to Mexico, committed at least one other murder and was incarcerated there. After several escape attempts, Mexico returned him to the U.S. In 2002, Sweat shot a Sheriff’s Deputy 22 times; when that didn’t kill him, he ran the officer over with his car. Prison seamstress Joyce Mitchell, 51, “caught up in a fantasy” of running away with lifers, snuck the pair tools to facilitate escape. There’s no word on whether booze was on her menu. After a three-week manhunt, Matt was tracked down to a cabin he had burglarized near the prison. He was shot and killed while resisting arrest. Police found an empty bottle of rum and a half-drunk bottle of grape-flavored gin at the cabin. Both Matt and the cabin reeked of booze; his blood alcohol content at death was .18 per cent (for which a 200-pound person would have to consume 24 ounces of 80-proof liquor over four hours, a feat non-addicts are usually incapable of). Sweat was recaptured two days later. The larger story is one that may never be known or told in full: the men escaped because of corruption at the prison, fueled by a possible drug trade and alcoholism among prison staffers.

Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez
, 24, who murdered four U.S. Marines and a Navy sailor in Chattanooga, Tennessee, arrested for a DUI after a late-night party earlier in the year. One DUI does not prove alcoholism, especially in a 24-year-old, but in my opinion is powerful evidence in a devoted Muslim, a religion that prohibits drinking. Abdulazeez graduated from the University of Tennessee in 2012 with a degree in engineering, completed several internships and then took a job in 2013 at a nuclear power plant in Ohio; he was fired for failing a drug test after ten days. Even though the failure was over marijuana (a relatively benign drug, which is the least likely of drugs to cause the user to harm others), with the use of it the odds of addiction to alcohol are substantially increased. While a user can test positive for marijuana for as long as two months after use, a blood alcohol content of .18 per cent will be undetectable after 12 hours. In 2009, Abdulazeez’s mother, Rasmia, alleged that his father, Youssuf Abdulazeez, physically and sexually assaulted her and had on occasion beaten their children. Domestic violence gives us 80-90% odds of alcoholism in the perpetrator; a child of a parent with alcoholism is four times more likely to inherit the disease than a child of a non-alcoholic. But there is even more evidence: Abdulazeez Jr. reportedly consumed sleeping pills, opioids and painkillers in addition to the marijuana and alcohol. U.S. officials say they have not found a “clear motive” for the attack, but no motive is necessary where substance addiction is evident. Abdulazeez was an addict, whose alcoholic egomania and need to wield power took form in these tragic shootings.

Under watch:

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

Vester Lee Flanagan, 41, who murdered reporter Alison Parker, 24, and cameraman Adam Ward, 27, on live television. Because journalists and others don’t understand its relevance (“he’s crazy,” “he’s a mental case,” “he has issues”) and, therefore, don’t look for it, we don’t yet have absolute proof of substance addiction. However, we should get it sooner or later, likely buried in the last paragraph of an article about him. Flanagan, who killed himself after being chased by officers, was a poster child for alcoholic behavioral clues: he murdered two innocent people; he did so in public (“watch what I can do!” “look at my power!” says the egomaniac); he made numerous false accusations of racism (both racism and false accusations of racism are nearly always rooted in alcoholism); he sued former employers over purported racial discrimination, sexual harassment and bullying (his EEOC claim was dismissed because none of his allegations could be corroborated; lawsuits, especially scurrilous ones, are brought by addicts way out of proportion to their numbers); he was “a difficult person for a lot of people to work with”; he was described as “always looking out for people to say things he could take offense to”; he had to be escorted out of the building by local police on his last day at the TV station where he last held a regular job; he threw his cat’s feces from the balcony of his apartment, police found his door smeared with cat feces and the apartment was soaked in cat urine (the throwing of feces is common to amphetamine addicts and animal abuse is the near-exclusive domain of substance addicts); he was fired from another TV station in 2000 after threatening fellow employees; he was fired because of “bizarre behavior;” he used profanity on the job; his refrigerator was “plastered with pictures of himself in dated modeling photos and headshots” (narcissism is usually a symptom of alcoholism); he had a propensity for engaging in irrational rages, including a recent YouTube video in which he argued with a man who berated him for driving “like a lunatic at more than 100mph”. The Thorburn Substance Addiction Indicator or TSARI, as well as my book How to Spot Hidden Alcoholics, includes such alcoholic behavioral clues as others having to walk on eggshells around the person under scrutiny, “intense mood swings,” making false accusations, other signs of a “massive over-inflated ego,” “severe problems at work and/or home” due to the person’s behavior, blaming others for one’s circumstances, frequent belligerence or nastiness and repeatedly engaging in “verbal or physical abuse.” If Flanagan wasn’t an addict, he would be among the vilest non-addicts ever.

DeKalb County, Georgia, where after years of scandal and allegations of widespread corruption, special investigators hired to root it out have alleged that employees frequently take bribes, drive drunk and spend taxpayer dollars on personal items like liquor, candy, flower arrangements and Caribbean cruises. The special investigators, Georgia Attorney General Mike Bowers and Richard Hyde, say “the misconduct starts at the top and has infected nearly every department we have looked at.” Interim DeKalb “CEO” (mayor) Lee May, who hired the investigators, rejects the assertion that the county in general is rotten and says most government employees are honest. The problem with these types of organizations—especially governmental ones, where those acting badly don’t easily get kicked out—is that addicts at the top tend to hire other addicts. As mentioned in this month’s Top Story, addicts are much more likely than non-addicts to protect each other’s secrets; they generally all have something to hide. Thus far, suspended DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis was sentenced to 18 months for attempted extortion and perjury, former Commissioner Elaine Boyer is serving a 14-month sentence for defrauding taxpayers of more than $100,000, and former DeKalb construction chief Pat Reid and her architect-husband Tony Pope were convicted of racketeering over manipulating school construction contracts. And in a classic case of protecting their own, an unnamed government employee was arrested for DUI, avoided disciplinary action by resigning and was rehired just days after pleading guilty. I suspect many other governmental entities need investigators like Mike Bowers and Richard Hyde. To start with, I’d suggest Baltimore City, home to Marilyn Mosby as well as Florida’s Fourth Judicial Court, home to Angela Corey.

Marianna Seachrist, 41, charged with aggravated stalking. Deputies, hearing low-bass noises coming from the condo above Peggy Westby’s unit and no one responding from inside the condo or showing up to open the door, rammed it. They discovered three low-frequency speakers mounted to a board and placed face-down on the floor in the living room, weighted down by dumbbells and cinder blocks. The speakers were “daisy-chained together” to an amplifier, which was wired to a Blackberry tablet that played a “workout mp3,” producing a bass-clicking sound that vibrated the room—set up so that someone with a smartphone could operate the system remotely.

The story gets even more bizarre. Frank Macnamara asks several intriguing questions on his youtube page:

[I] “looked up the ‘victim’ Peggy Westby. Everything on the Internet says she lives on Tarawood Drive in Bay Hill. The house shown in the video is not in Bay Hill. She apparently lives there with her husband. Why does she say she's living in a condo when she owns a nice, expensive house (homesteaded) with her husband? Something fishy's going on here….Her daughter, Katherine Westby, claims to live at 7544 Bay Port Road, which matches the building shown in the video. It's listed on the affidavit charging her with DUI. Her son, Alexander Westby, was also charged with DUI, and was on probation for car theft….There has got to be more to this.”

So, Katherine Westby appears to live with her son in a condo owned by her mother, downstairs from Marianna Seachrist. This is likely a case of addict v. addict.

An unnamed 20-something college graduate retail worker, claiming credit for adult toys tossed on Portland, Oregon power lines. In a recent interview with Vice, she says she is “nowhere near done. It had to be done. I have no idea why, but it had to [be done].” We have an idea, but one that is as yet unconfirmed.

Some things you just can't make up:

Daniel Collins, 36, admitted he was shooting at street lights because, as he put it, he’s an extraterrestrial trying to protect the planet from other aliens. It’s unclear how the street lights were attracting extraterrestrials, but there’s no accounting for drug-induced “trips.” He was charged with endangering safety with a firearm and possession of—surprise!—drug paraphernalia.

Co-addicts of the month:

Around midnight, Alexandria Mauer, 24, was driving around naked while eating a slice of pizza; her passenger, Kenneth Gillespie, 33, was also naked and holding a can of beer between his feet. Mauer was arrested for DUI and, in an all-too-common act of enabling, she was bailed out at 2 a.m. by a family member, long before sobering up. She was spotted, fully clothed but obviously still drunk at 3 a.m., wandering on a road. Police reported she had gotten into an argument with her driver (perhaps the family member who picked her up) and jumped out of the car. She was again arrested, this time for disorderly conduct and intoxication. Gillespie—on probation for drug possession—was arrested for disorderly conduct and intoxication, open container and public indecency, and peed in the back of the police cruiser on his way to the station. If his blood alcohol content was .24 per cent at midnight (which it could easily have been given the behaviors), it would have dropped to .105 per cent at his 9 a.m. release (BAL decreases on average at .015 per cent per hour)—still legally drunk. If we hope to up the odds of “miraculous insight,” “a need to find God” and “a need to try sobriety,” the system would better serve the rest of us by requiring drunks to blow a zero before release. In the long run, we’d end up with fewer drunks driving naked, acting badly, ruining relationships and destroying lives, and there’d be many more alcoholics in recovery.

In a twofer, Erik Polite, 35, clocked at 106 mph, was pulled over. When he stopped, he exchanged seats with passenger Leeshawn Baker, 34, who put the car in gear, allowing police to get a “twofer.” Polite’s blood alcohol content was .19 per cent and Baker’s was .25 per cent, the latter of which requires 24 ounces of 80-proof liquor for a 200-pound person over a period of less than five hours. Both were charged with DUI, gross negligent operation of a motor vehicle and drug possession.


Really bad wedding of the month:

It all started after a woman confronted Mandi L. Groh, 32, over allowing her 14-year-old son to drink beer at a wedding reception. Groh punched the woman in the face, a brawl ensued and police were called. Groh tried to drive off with her son and pre-teen daughter, but police stopped her and saw the boy was obviously drunk. He was taken to a local hospital, where his blood alcohol content was found to be .16 per cent. Groh’s husband, Jesse Groh, 38, was questioned about his untucked dress shirt covered in blood; police found three large folding knives on his person. The Groh’s were arrested on numerous charges, including corruption of minors and public drunkenness. They were not the only ones getting into trouble at the wedding: the unnamed bride was treated for alcohol poisoning and dehydration. The groom, Nicholas Papoutsis, 31, challenged officers to a fight. Police tried “reasoning” with him, suggesting he didn’t really want to be arrested on his wedding night, but reason doesn’t apply to alcoholics and other brain-damaged individuals. He, along with six people in all at the reception, were arrested.


“Invincible” addicts of the month:

Devon Staples, 22, killed while celebrating 4th of July, after combining fireworks with alcohol in a small town in Maine. Friends tried to discourage him from launching a mortar from his head, but Devon was buzzed. His brother, Cody, was a few feet away and said his brother was “not the kind of person who would do something stupid.” His mother Kathleen says her son thought the mortar was a dud. How could she know it “would” be a dud? She’s calling for tougher controls over the newly legalized fireworks (they were illegal in Maine from 1949 until 2012), with “safety training” at the forefront. Sorry Kathleen, but all the safety training in the world goes out the window once alcohol and other drug addiction is involved. This can be true even for non-addicts (it’s clearly possible this was a one-time awful event; Devon may not have had addiction). However, another similar incident in Michigan surely involved alcoholism: Scott Jeffers, 47, who was holding a mortar-type firework over his head. It exploded, killing him instantly.

Nor do alcohol and guns mix; when they do, the odds are nearly 100% alcohol is being consumed by a person with alcoholism. Charles Cooper, 49, removed the magazine from his pistol and wondered whether there was still a round in the chamber. He decided to test this by pointing the gun to his head and pulling the trigger, with the tragic results we have grown to expect. Cooper had, of course, been drinking and his death will no doubt be ruled “accidental.” As is likely the case with Scott Jeffers, the true cause of death is almost assuredly “addiction;” this is yet another death out of millions for which the underlying true cause is not correctly identified.

Chutzpah of the month:

Herbert Kyles, 25, found passed out behind the wheel of his car in the middle of an intersection, engine running, who told officers he consumed “two beers” but it was okay because “I’m not driving.” He was so drunk he couldn’t complete field sobriety tests and blew a .22 on a Breathalyzer at the police station. He apparently misspoke; he meant “two six packs.”


Concocted story of the month:

Matthew B. Smith, 36, had been in the rest room at a Circle K Shell gas station for about 30 minutes. A police officer needed to use the facilities, found the door locked, and was advised by a customer that Smith was in the restroom because he was “having problems with his butt.” By the time Smith exited, other officers had arrived; they noticed that Smith had droopy eyes, slurred speech and a white powdery substance on his nose and in his nostrils. Smith apparently volunteered that he “had stuff stuck in his butt;” when officers asked what stuff, Smith removed a fishing bobber, screw driver and tire plug kit from his pockets and told officers those objects had been up his butt. Officers searched the restroom and found a white powdery substance on the toilet, along with an empty pen tube, which can be used to ingest drugs. Smith, sans ID, gave officers two different birthdates and three different Social Security numbers as they tried to identify him. Searching him they found 22 pills and a small plastic baggie containing that white powdery substance; finally, Smith admitted to transporting drugs inside his body.


Lucky drunks of the month:

Aaron Collins, 38, run over by a freight train while sleeping in the middle of railroad tracks. The Pan Am freight train conductor spotted Collins, but was unable to stop until the first two engines of a mile long train passed over him. Separated, the front section was moved forward to free Collins—uninjured but drunk.

Philip Maschek, 50, found shirtless and unconscious on the floor of an air traffic control tower after a pilot made repeated radio attempts at getting cleared for take-off. The arrest report states “Maschek interrupted multiple [sobriety] tests by not following proper instructions,” raised his voice and screamed obscenities at officers and, when he was led out of the tower tried to climb back in. Maschek was lucky—he won’t be tried for manslaughter because, apparently, no one was trying to land.


Surviving addict of the month:

Jessica D. Barnes, 24, hospitalized in serious condition with a head injury, charged with DUI, failure to control her vehicle and not wearing a seat belt. After crashing into a utility pole, her car wound up on train tracks; she ignored an oncoming train’s horn and, ejected at impact, flew 30 feet into a gravel pit. Emergency responders might have been surprised to see she was alive, but can you imagine the look on their faces when she (allegedly) told them, “Don’t bother me, I’m drunk”? The addictionologist would have replied, “If we didn’t bother the injured because they are drunk or high, 80% of single-person accident victims would die.”


Enablers of the month:

Dewey Calhoun Green’s attorney, who said he was sober when he rear-ended Janice Pitts’ SUV with his truck. When Pitts, 53, got out of her car to check the damage, Green pinned her against his truck, backed up and then drove forward over Pitts, killing her as her daughter and 4-year-old grandson watched. Green, 24, the grandson of a former Birmingham, Alabama mayor, is “suspected” by investigators of being under the influence at the time of the incident. An addict under the influence best explains this tragedy, Mr. Attorney. His eyes in this picture suggest alcohol, even if it’s the sort of horrific crime in which methamphetamine addicts are more likely to engage. While the crime occurred a year ago, the trial just ended with a guilty verdict and life in prison. Take a look at how he looks when not drinking or using. Looks like a typical nice guy. There were no doubt dozens if not hundreds of incidents for which close people or the law could have intervened, but didn’t, allowing the progression of addiction to end in tragedy.

California Senate Pro Tem Kevin de Leon (D), who hired two special services assistants to work in the Sergeant-at-Arms Office to provide ground transportation for California state Senate members at a cost of more than $5,000 per month. A senate spokesman would only say, “We’re not going to provide comment, because it’s a security issue.” So just what was this “ground transportation” and how could it be a “security issue”? Someone who turned down the job opened up: he would be working shifts from 11pm to 6 or 7am, whenever the legislature was in session. Okay, except the legislature doesn’t work in the middle of the night. The explanation: he was told he would give senators rides “if they were drinking too much. Just pick them up and take them home.” Senators were given plastic cards for “Sacramento 24 hr transportation,” the phone number for the Senate’s Chief Sergeant-at-Arms Debbie Manning, and instructions to call her “in an emergency.” A service like this suggests a large number of alcoholics in the state Senate, which would explain the idiotic laws California keeps passing (like the recent job-killing sick pay law). I imagine the state Assembly consists of a large number of alkies as well. Due to public outcry, the service was terminated. Maybe now they’ll stop promulgating laws that could either put Uber out of business or force it to raise its prices so much we may as well call a taxi.


Naked addict of the month:

Abigail Ralph, 26, driving while high on LSD, ran off the road, flipped over into an embankment, exited the vehicle, took her clothes off and was observed running around naked in a field where children from a Christian youth camp were playing softball. After bystanders detained and clothed her, California Highway Patrol officer Shane Borba reported “she was very nice and almost loving one moment, and then almost completely violent the next, [experiencing] rapid emotional shifts to the extreme….” He also said, “She wasn’t even aware she was in a collision.”


Nearly naked addict of the month:

Ryan Duff, 24, high on drugs, wearing nothing but his underwear—and “yelling at kids” while driving his ice cream truck on his usual route playing the ice cream truck jingle we all learned to come running to as kids. Lovely.


Abusers of the month:

Wanda Sue Larson, a supervisor with the Department of Social Services in Union County, North Carolina, and her boyfriend Dorian Harper, an emergency room nurse, pleaded guilty to numerous counts of child abuse and were sentenced up to 17 months and 10 ½ years in prison, respectively. The abuse ended in late 2013 when police discovered a boy, then 11, in handcuffs, chained to the front porch of their house with a dead chicken hung from his neck. Police entered a “roach-infested house covered with urine and animal feces” and found four other children, ages 7 to 14, all legally adopted by the couple. At the sentencing, Larson expressed remorse and blamed most of the abuse on Harper; the boy, however, says Larson encouraged it. Despite this and the horrific nature of their crimes, Larson was released after a nine-day stint in jail. The boy, now 13, wants everyone to know she didn’t serve enough time and is going public over the early release. Concerned he might run into her at a neighborhood store, he says “I want her to be in jail longer.” There is no word that the court required her to abstain from using alcohol and other drugs, the addictive use of which is a virtual given; Ms. Larson will likely, as a result, find more victims.


Recovering addict of the month:

Former NBA four-time All-Star Vin Baker, admitting he is now working at a Starbucks as a barista after squandering $100 million in earnings due to a series of “financial missteps” stemming from his alcoholism. He thanks Starbucks CEO and chairman Howard Shultz, who owned the Seattle SuperSonics when Baker played for them, for what he termed an “excellent” opportunity to train to manage one of the chains’ stores. Baker says, ‘I had a great talent and lost it…..I’m 43 and I have four kids. I have to pick up the pieces.” Gratitude and accepting responsibility should help Baker become an increasingly productive and, hopefully, non-relapsing recovering alcoholic. His story is well worth a read, either here or here.


Addict v. addict of the month:

Tony Flournoy, 52, crashed into the back of Marice Thomas’s minivan. Flournoy sped away.

Flournoy picked the wrong guy to commit hit-and-run on.

Thomas, 68, with two women and a 6-year-old girl in the van, began chasing Flournoy on city streets at speeds up to 80 mph. One of the women begged Thomas to slow down, but he refused. He finally caught up to Flournoy and rammed Flournoy’s Buick at least six times; the final impact flipped the car and paralyzed Flournoy. Both men had felonies; Thomas was jailed on charges of aggravated battery with bodily harm and neglect of a child.


“Experiment” of the month:

Police Lt. Christopher Bartley, 41, of the National Institutes of Standards and Technology (NIST), part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, arrested on charges of attempting to manufacture methamphetamine inside a “highly secured government research facility.” After an explosion ripped through a NIST lab, a blast shield went flying 25 feet. Bartley, 41, was “conducting an experiment;” it’s unclear what sort of government experiment involves refilling a butane lighter, with pseudoephedrine and a meth recipe nearby. Attorney Steven Van Grack expects Bartley to plead guilty and, because his client has an “immaculate background,” is hopeful he will avoid prison time. Hey, Van Grack: by the time someone gets around to manufacturing methamphetamine—and in a government lab no less—he’s likely done some other really bad stuff. Odds are you simply haven’t looked deeply enough, or you are a defense attorney of the “enabler-in-fact” variety.


Researcher of the month:

USC Coach Steve Sarkisian, 41, whose word-slurring and expletive-filled rant during an important booster event (“Salute to Troy”) tipped us off to his addiction. His take: he will seek treatment to find out “if” he has a drinking “problem.” When asked by reporters whether he had such a problem, he said, “I don’t believe so. But through…the University I’m going to find that out.” Sarkisian, who is going through a divorce, admitted he mixed “other drugs” with the alcohol but refused to divulge what those other drugs are. If they are psychotropic drugs, Mr. Sarkisian, we can save you the research: anyone who mixes such drugs with alcohol, especially in a public setting, has the disease of alcoholism; this is almost certainly true even if you only drank to excess at such an event.


Bad moms of the month:

Cynthia Ann Marie Gatewood, 26, carrying her 3-month-old child with a single arm down the aisles of a Kroger when observers flagged down several patrolmen. The officers noted the child’s head was unsupported and swinging around, while the stroller was filled with merchandise. Officers noted Gatewood was “fidgety” with rapid and slurred speech. She nearly lost her balance several times with the baby in her arms. One of the patrolmen finally took the baby, fearing it would be hurt. He found the infant’s diaper and clothing soaked with urine. Gatewood also had an unrelated 4-year-old boy in her care. The boy wore only a pair of shorts and lacked underwear or a shirt; he was shivering. While this would be more than enough for the addiction aware, for the officers the coup de grace likely occurred when Kroger employees told the officers they saw Gatewood make the boy pee and poop in the middle of the store. Surprisingly, Gatewood admitted she’d taken two strips of Suboxone (used to treat opiate addiction); unsurprisingly, officers found a baggie of crystal meth in her purse. She was arrested and received an additional charge for being non-compliant during her arrest. There is no report on why she was allowed to keep a 3-month-old child, nor why she was caring for a 4-year-old boy, but we might suspect that the boy’s parents are as deep in their addiction as she is.

April R. King, 35, wanted to visit her local bar to get drunk, but a Breathalyzer interlock device was installed in her car pursuant to the terms of her previous DUI probation. What could she do? What any drunk would do: leave the motor running—with her two children, aged 2 and 4, in the running car—and go get drunk. When officers arrived the 4-year-old, in an obvious attempt to “protect” his mother (and), grabbed the Breathalyzer and blew into it. She was arrested and charged with child neglect. (We can surmise two possibilities as to why the kid may be the youngest enabler ever: one, he might have seen her arrested previously after blowing and figured if he blew she wouldn’t be arrested; two, she normally didn’t leave the motor running and the kid would blow, allowing his mother to start the car.)


False accusation of the month:

After accusing a Sonic employee of spitting in his drink, Officer Chris Ray Moreno, 22, stood by as his fellow police officers executed a search warrant, shutting down the restaurant for two hours. After checking security cameras, officers found no evidence of wrong-doing by the employee. Saliva was found in the drink, but when investigators told Moreno they needed a DNA sample, Moreno admitted he spit in his own drink to set up the employee, who he didn’t like.

You won’t believe what happened next.

Knowing he would be fired and, apparently, forgetting to clean out his patrol car, Moreno turned in the car and equipment and resigned. When officers opened the trunk, they found a treasure trove of contraband: methamphetamine, 19 syringes, three meth pipes, three marijuana pipes and several other stolen items he had kept from past cases.


Bad law enforcer of the month:

Stacey Staniland, 29, an NYPD police officer who quit the force after her third arrest in six months. She was first arrested for burglarizing her boyfriend’s mother’s home and hocking the stolen jewelry at a pawn shop; several months later, she was arrested on drug charges while on duty. Recently she crashed her unregistered motorcycle; when she removed her ID from her backpack, a fellow officer spotted drug paraphernalia—a silver spoon and a syringe. A search turned up non-prescribed clonazepam, a benzodiazepine in the same class of psychotropic drugs as Valium.


Bad law enforcement of the month:

The NYPD (or police union), for allowing “bad law enforcer of the month” Stacey Staniland to remain on the job after her first arrest. This is a classic case of beauty being enabled; the trouble is, she could be enabled to her death.


Bad lawmakers of the month:

Maryland Delegate Ariana B. Kelly (D), 38, enraged when she discovered that her ex-husband’s fiancée was in his home when she dropped her children off in accordance with their custody sharing arrangement. Apparently wanting to gain access to the residence, she repeatedly rang the doorbell and banged on the door. Her ex-husband, Barak Sanford, asked her to leave; when she didn’t, he recorded the incident on his cellphone. He played the cellphone video for officers. It shows Kelly ringing the doorbell “numerous times,” exposing her breasts in the direction of Sanford’s cellphone camera and then “with one breast in each hand [shaking] them up and down.” An officer told Kelly she could be arrested for indecent exposure and asked her to leave; Kelly replied, “Arrest me then,” and extended her wrists toward the officer. Kelly is a member of a legislative task force studying maternal mental health issues, about which she seems to have some interesting insight. County prosecutors dropped the indecent exposure and trespassing charges against her, saying it was a matter better suited for family court. Addictionologists might suggest it’s a matter better suited for AA.

Lord John Sewel, 69, stepping down from his post as Deputy Speaker of the British House of Lords. After stripping naked in front of a pair of £200 per night prostitutes, he told them he wanted to “be led astray.” And he was, snorting three lines of cocaine over a 45 minute session. At one point one of the girls said, “You are such a party animal!” and Sewel replied, “I know. Disgusting, isn’t it?” Sewel was chairman of the Lords’ Privileges and Conduct Committee, the body that upholds standards of behavior among peers. This sort of behavior may explain many of the laws promulgated by the British government, as it tells its citizens how to live their lives and spend their money.


Euphemism of the month:

City Manager Eric Hansen, sending out a memo to city councilors in which he described an incident as “awkward.” The incident involved “prostitution type activity” at a room in a Super 8 Motel. When officers reported that a “white male” left the room, detectives approached and identified the male as Mason, Ohio city councilman Richard Cox. After Cox denied prostitution, he told officers there was a woman in the room who did not speak English and he was there only to check on her for a friend. When police knocked a woman in a mini skirt with cash hanging out of her pockets opened the door. Hence, “awkward.” Cox has since resigned his post.


Retrospective enabler of the month:

When Ann Rule died (see “sometimes it takes an addict,” below), one of the media stories recounted her “twisted friendship” with serial killer Ted Bundy. In the early 1970s, Rule volunteered at a suicide crisis hotline one night a week—along with Bundy, with whom she became infatuated. She only vaguely suspected him of being the serial murderer police were looking for and continued to be his friend, even after he was arrested for kidnapping in 1975, four years after they met, a time during which he had started his rape and murder spree in which at least 36 women became victim to his alcoholic charm. After the arrest she had lunch with him while he was out on bail and bought him a carafe of Chablis (just what you give an alcoholic). “When this is all over,” Bundy told Rule, “I’ll take you out to lunch.” Even after she learned he was a prime suspect in a number of murders, in early 1976 she “hung out” with him and talked for hours. Years later, she finally admitted, “People like Ted can fool you completely….his mask was perfect.” Unless you know of the heavy drinking—and you should have suspected, Ann, watching him down that bottle of Chablis—charm alone is a terrific clue to alcoholism.


Retrospective unaware prosecutor of the month:

Ted Bundy was a complex man who somewhere along the line went wrong,” a prosecutor of one his crimes said when Bundy was executed in 1989. “He probably could have done anything in life he set his mind to do, but something happened to him and we still don’t know what it was.” Yet, the woman who survived the kidnapping referred to above told police her abductor “smelled of liquor.” An acquaintance told interviewers, “When Ted drank, he often got drunk.” Bundy admitted to interviewers he would “down two or three quick beers before going on a shoplifting spree.” As James Graham points out, alcoholics usually understate their intake and likely had a lot more than “just two or three,” as they tell cops. There are numerous reports of repeated instances of heavy drinking; he told the authors of The Only Living Witness: A True Account of Homicidal Insanity that he drank before each murder. Bundy was drunk during a prison interview (yes, inmates can get their hands on alcohol and other drugs; his wife, Carole Boone, whom he married while on death row, smuggled him vodka and pills until she was caught) and he was once seen ingesting 800 milligrams of Valium (a normal dose wouldn’t exceed 10 milligrams four times per day). Mr. Prosecutor, you had enough information then to know what went wrong.


Sometimes, it takes an addict:

Author Ann Rule, dead from congestive heart failure at 83. While she was not an addict, she wrote about them in several dozen biographical “true crime” books, including one that many consider a classic, The Stranger Beside Me: Ted Bundy. Yet, she never understood alcoholic egomania as the best explanation for the misbehaviors she repeatedly described when writing about subjects who were nearly all alcohol or other-drug addicts. She not only failed to identify her subjects as such; she apparently thought it irrelevant. In a series of emails nearly a decade ago I asked whether there was more drinking and using than she divulged by Allen Blackthorne, the subject of Every Breath You Take: a True Story of Obsession, Revenge and Murder; she brushed me off and told me to simply “keep reading.” (My review is in issue # 6 of TAR, which was reposted on amazon. Your “helpful” vote would be appreciated.) Because every action in an addict’s life must be viewed through the lens of alcoholism, she is yet another biographer who failed to understand the subject of their biographies.

This failure made her last years (and likely earlier than publicly known) miserable. Only a few months before she died, her sons Michael Rule and Andrew Rule, each of whom receive about $25,000 monthly salary from her corporation, were both charged with stealing more than $100,000 from Rule. In a classic case of elder abuse and the sort of financial abuse that could have been included in my book Drunks, Drugs and Debits, Michael, 51, is accused of writing checks totaling more than $103,000 from Rule’s bank account. Andrew, 54, is accused of fraudulently convincing his mother to give him more than $23,000.

The King County, Washington prosecutor’s office noted she had been in declining health since October 2013 stemming from a broken hip; she was “on oxygen at all times,” suffering from “extreme confusion” and “vulnerable to undo influence.” Authorities were made aware of the thefts by her son-in-law, Glen Scorr, who “suspected his mother-in-law was being financially exploited by her two sons.”

Aside from being charged with crimes in which it appears there is guilt, there are numerous behavioral clues to addiction in the sons. Michael “forged her signature on checks” and verbally abused Rule, yelling at his mother “demanding money as she cowered in her wheelchair.” He often went “into rages, where he throws things across the room and sweeps a counter clean with his arm.” Andrew was “aggressive” in trying to get money from his mother in 2014 (what, $25,000 per month isn’t enough?!). He reportedly threatened suicide and screamed obscenities at her. Rule was granted an order of protection against Andrew in January 2015; he violated the order in March. While in custody, Andrew admitted to officers he “battled drug and gambling addictions for years and that he used the money provided to him by his mother on gambling and strip clubs.” So no, the $25,000 per month wasn’t enough; for an addict, no amount of money is ever enough.

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.

Alcoholism needs to be stopped at the get-go. Unimpeded, it leads to some very dangerous drugs.

I’ve long argued that “dangerous” drugs are considered dangerous because, with few exceptions, addicts are the only ones to try them. Because addicts can become cross-addicted to other drugs, their behaviors may become more horrific than if they drank only alcohol. Methamphetamine is one such drug; alpha-PVP, or “flakka,” is another.

Flakka is yet another synthetic drug created by chemists that can make users paranoid and violent, with nearly super-human strength. Users describe it as better than crack cocaine; one 25-year-old woman told authorities she stayed awake for nine straight days, rarely ate or drank, felt like a “stench clung to her body” and she “never could get clean enough,” and yet still craved it. “You can’t stop,” she said. The drug, especially popular in southern Florida, has become “troublesome” for law enforcement.

Normal people would never try such a drug. Only an addict, with their sense of invincibility, would say “I can handle it! I’ll be able to stop any time I want!” No, they can’t and they won’t.

As chemists concoct ever more dangerous drugs, the main message I’ve been sharing for a decade and a half—we need to identify and treat substance addiction early on using misbehaviors as clues—has become increasingly important. Because families, especially mothers, so often refuse to stop enabling, I’ve concluded the most important task for law enforcement and, especially, the judiciary, is to coerce abstinence. Addicts provide the opportunity for society to do so when they have harmed others. In nearly every case, judges can and should offer a choice: sobriety or imprisonment.

And in case it hasn’t dawned on my dear readers: among the perps cops have to deal with are flakka users. I couldn’t be a cop in today’s world: I know the acts of which users are capable. I wouldn’t hesitate to shoot to kill.

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Grandpa teases, berates and stomps off. He even bites.

Dear Doug:

My husband, Joe, criticizes our 5-year-old grandson. When the child cries or asks him to stop, Joe continues to berate and finally stomps off. Our grandson no longer wants to be with Joe. This isn’t new: he did this with our own children, once biting our daughter on her arm when she was 10. He got mad at her for crying. I’m afraid telling Joe how his grandson feels will only make things worse, and he is due here for a week-long visit soon. What should I do?


Wife of child abuser


Dear Codependent,

Other columnists would correctly tell you Joe’s behavior is inexcusable and unacceptable. They would say you have clearly either accepted or not done enough to stop it. They might suggest that you discuss it with him by telling him the effect it has on others, asking him if he really wants his grandson to be so afraid he doesn’t even want to be with him, and you should let him know you won’t allow contact if he can’t act appropriately around children.

There’s no point discussing; you are not dealing with a rational person. I would simply ask: how long as Joe been drinking addictively? (You don’t need to answer; it’s rhetorical. He’s been doing so for decades.) It’s time for Joe to be given a choice of sobriety or no contact with his grandson. Because sobriety is a process, behaviors don’t instantly improve and relapse is common, you will need to keep a close eye on him for years.

(Source for story idea: “Ask Amy,” July 16, 2015.)

“The Likely Cause of Addiction Has Been Discovered, and It Is Not What You Think”

So reads a headline in the Huffington Post by Johann Hari, author of Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs. While Hari correctly argues for an end to the failed war on drugs, he incorrectly identifies the cause of addiction as a loss of “human connection,” which he bases on experiments that give rats a choice: drugs or bonding with their friends. “Human beings are bonding animals. We need to connect and love….The rise of addiction is a symptom of a deeper sickness in the way we live—constantly directing our gaze towards the next shiny object we should buy, rather than the human beings all around us.”

Hari, like so many, confuses cause and effect—the effect of cutting off ties with others isn’t drug addiction; rather, the effect of drug addiction is to cut off ties with other humans. Addicts cannot love others while having a love affair with drugs. If a lack of human connection was the cause, try to explain Michael Jackson, Elizabeth Taylor, O.J. Simpson, or any number of other well-known alcoholics, including those listed here (note: not updated since the early 2000s). The cause, Mr. Hari, is in one’s genes (even if for rats it may be otherwise). If you don’t believe it and you do not have the disease of alcoholism, just try drinking addictively. You’ll do a face plant when your blood alcohol content is at a point where alcoholics are barely getting started.

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

“There He Was, Minding His Own Business: David Penski, 30, was going down a Billings, Mont., street in broad daylight while standing on a home’s deck when he was killed in a freak accident. Wait... what? The deck, which had been removed from a mobile home, was being towed [dragged] down the street by William Bodie Flynt, 36. The deck was not on a trailer, and did not have wheels. The two men, both from Arizona, had ‘found’ it, and Penski apparently decided to ride it. After about 200 feet, the deck hit a curb and Penski was thrown off; he was helicoptered to a hospital, but died later that night. After the crash, Flynt allegedly cut the deck loose and took off, but returned to the scene an hour later. He was arrested on multiple charges, including criminal endangerment, leaving the scene of an accident involving death or serious injury, driving without proof of insurance, and driving under the influence (fourth or subsequent offense). He was held on $75,000 bond, and if convicted faces at least 13 months, and up to 5 years, in prison on the DUI charge alone. (RC/Billings Gazette) ...Maybe they can install the deck outside his cell window.

 While I don’t usually include stories deserving a Darwin Award, this was too instructive to pass up. Sober people don’t drag decks, drive drunk, leave the scene of a crime or drive without proof of insurance, any one of which behaviors indicates alcoholism even without the fourth offense for DUI. Who doubts that William Bodie Flynt’s daredevil drinking buddy David Penski was also an alcoholic? Sober people, aged 30, typically don’t engage in such stupid pranks as to surf a deck, with or without wheels.

(Story and tagline from “This is True,” copyright 2015 by Randy Cassingham, used with permission. If you haven't already subscribed to his newsletter—the free one at least, or the paid one I get, with more than twice the stories—I highly recommend it:


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