May 6th, 2011
07:38 AM ET
Where alcoholics can drink themselves to death
Learn more about the controversial "wet house" concept for dealing with chronic alcoholics this Saturday and Sunday at 7:30 a.m. ET on "Sanjay Gupta, MD."
St. Paul, Minnesota (CNN) - It's been over seven years since Marion Hagerman has spoken to anyone in his family. As he huddles behind a parked trailer on a cold early spring day, Hagerman reflects on his life, and recalls what led him to this moment.
"This is my lifestyle," says Hagerman, 54, while sneaking a swig of what he calls "wash," or mouthwash - a cheap way of getting intoxicated. "It ain't much, but this is what I have. It sucks. "
He says he held a steady job for 20 years, before his addiction to alcohol took over his life. Today, Hagerman lives at St. Anthony Residence in St. Paul, Minnesota, along with about 60 other late-stage alcoholics.
St. Anthony, which receives funds from the state and is operated by Catholic Charities, is known as a "wet house" because Hagerman and the others are allowed to drink on site, with some caveats - including no mouthwash.
The theory is that it's better to allow these guys to drink in a safe place than to end up on the streets and in the city's emergency rooms, jails, and detox centers. At St. Anthony, they have access to nurses - and doctors if the situation warrants - plus on-site case managers to aid in their addiction. Ideally, St. Anthony's counselors want the residents to sober up - but they realize that there isn't a strong chance of that happening.
St. Paul isn't the only city that has a "wet house"-style residence - Seattle was one of the first cities to put this concept into practice in 2005, and Memphis is considering building one, too.
Another argument in favor of the concept is that it saves money. Each St. Anthony's resident costs about $18,000 a year to house and feed, about $1,500 a month. A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association indicates that if these men were out on the street, it could cost over $4,000 a month in incarceration, shelter and sobering center use, hospital-based medical services, publicly funded alcohol and drug detoxification and treatment, and emergency medical services.
But the idea of allowing alcoholics to drink is antithetic to the basic tenets of addiction counseling.
"We feel that that it's never too late, and that even if the alcoholic doesn't want help, doesn't mean that their drinking should be condoned or in any other way enabled or facilitated," says William Cope Moyers, public advocacy executive director for Hazelden addiction treatment centers in the Minneapolis-St. Paul region.
"I see the wet house model as a model that enables the addict in the alcoholic to continue those destructive patterns."
Moyers, who is the son of well-known journalist Bill Moyers, has chronicled his own struggle in his book, "Broken: My Story of Addiction and Redemption." His opposition to the wet house concept is commonplace among addiction counselors.
St. Anthony Residence program manager Bill Hockenberger calls the wet house a "harm reduction model," instead of a treatment center. He says by giving these men a home - men who have all gone through nearly every treatment numerous times - it gets them off the streets.
The added comfort of having a place to call home at night and the dignity that restores in the men in return, he says, leads men to drink less.
"They didn't want to be an alcoholic," he said. "A lot of them just didn't have a choice in the matter ... this provides safe secure housing for those most in need. We are in business to do the humane thing."
Hagerman, like a lot of the other St. Anthony residents, says he'd like to eventually leave and find a job. But he feels like he's stuck.
"No I don’t want to stay there, I'd like to get a goddamn job and get the hell outta there," he says. "Jesus Christ, I turn 55 in September, I'm getting old. Who wants to hire a 55-year-old man?"
Like a lot of the residents, Hagerman's addiction to alcohol not only keeps him out of a job - it keeps him away from his family, too.
Just weeks after he learned his brother Jerry died from a heart attack, he learned that another brother, Mike, is in the hospital, dying from colon cancer.
I give him a ride to the hospital, where he visits Mike and sits down with his other brother, Ray, for the first time in seven years.
It's an awkward conversation, as Ray talks about Marion, seated next to him, as if he's not even there.
"It's like we did kind of wash our hands [of] him when our parents died," Ray says. "We weren't going to take care of him. I'm glad to see that he's still alive because none of us were sure if he was. Always looked on the streets to see if I would see him somewhere."
Ray says isn't sure what a "wet house" is, but seems to be OK with the idea.
"I don’t think he's ever gonna stop drinking," Ray says.
"No, no, I'm not going to," Marion responds, as if to remind Ray he's sitting right there. "My lifestyle keeps me alive."
"Yeah it also keeps you separated from everybody in the last years of their lives," his brother says.
The day after the visit, Mike succumbs to colon cancer.
"It's my life. That's as far as it goes," Marion says a few days later, as he seeks to numb himself from the pain of his loss. "I live here. Look at this? Do you think I’m happy with this situation? No, I can't stand it. But I have nothing else to do."
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.
totally tragic. By providing a wet house, Marion has been given up on, why should he believe there is a life out there for him that he cannot imagine? Counseling, therapy, and no enabling would give him a quality of life he is not capable of conceptualizing or thinking he deserves. I am appalled that the wet house concept is still alive.
Yea it does seem a bit sickening, but many, if not all of these men have been through countless sessions of therapy, counseling, AA, etc. Then what? When everything else doesn't work, then what? They've given up on themselves and St Paul is offering a safe way for them to die happy.
Well, from a realist perspective, addicts can't be helped if they can't reflect and acknowledge their own problem themselves. In this sense, perhaps this "safe" environment will eventually allow them to self-reflect and realize on their own that they need to change. Perhaps that thinkings a bit optimistic though.
I was well on my way to becoming a full-fledged alcoholic just 4 years ago. I consider myself very blessed that Jesus Christ intervened in my life and enabled me to stop drinking completely. I have not had a drink since Jan 2007 and it's all because of the awesome love that God has for me. Give your life to Jesus, He is the ONLY one who can save you. Peace.
@Dan, I am glad that you got help before you got out of control, but "Jesus" isn't the answer to everything, nor to everyone.
Dan, I'm happy for you, and don't take this the wrong way, but Jesus didn't save you – it was your own strength and self that did. Don't take that away from you by giving credit to someone else. Jesus may have given you inspiration and strength, but you took it into the end zone, regardless.
I totally agree! The "wet house" is just another enabling factor in an alcoholic's life. He needs HELP – not booze.
@Weetie61. You CANNOT force someone to get help. Only they can help themselves when they're ready to. I would bet money that every single one of these men has been to treatment at least a dozen times, and has not been successful. This IS their help. This IS what they truly want.
No offense Dr but addiction is mostly mental. Some people dont want to change. Some people dont like life, and IMO I feel you should be able to do whatever you want to your own body as long as you dont physically hurt others.
I have been dating an alcoholic for the past year and a half. I love him more than anything and it kills me to see him drink like he does. He knows he has a problem but doesn't want to do anything to stop it. I've encouraged him to get help, in whatever way he's comfortable, meaning rehab, counselor, whatever but he doesn't have the desire or the need to stop at this point. I am not an addict but I can empathize with people who are or have loved ones that are. It's not just as simple as quitting. For those who have been able to stop cold turkey or stop over time, that is wonderful and inspiring. I wish that my boyfriend would get that urge. Because of his addiction, he has sabotaged our relationship and pushed me away and it breaks my heart. I fear that one day he will end up like the man in this story, drinking mouthwash all alone because he has pushed everyone who ever loved him right out of his life. Addiction doesn't just affect the person drinking....
This article is an excerpt from a much longer one that was in the St. Paul paper. The original article had a lot more information on the residents and the way the wet house works. All of the residents have been through treatment, detox, counseling, AA etc. many times. They interviewed several of them and based on what many of the residents had to say most of them had no interest in trying again. A lot of them didn't want to quit and had no intention of ever quitting until they die. These are not alcoholics looking for help or ones that haven't been around the track many times. The question isn't whether they will die alcoholics, it's what is going to happen to them until then. The wet house offers a safe environment with basic medical care. They are not provided alcohol but if they get some they can drink it outside the shelter, not inside. The simple reality is that not everyone wants to be saved, not everyone is going to be saved and for those people we can at least provide them with some dignity and comfort on the way out. Maybe leaving them to freeze to death under a bridge while tsking to ourselves that we are at least not "enabling" them might make some of you feel better but it won't help the poor sod that's freezing or the person that's not getting medical care because the ER is trying to save the frozen homeless person.
I was shocked to hear about the Wet-house concept. It saves money... But provides an environment where alcoholics can safely die... Reminds me of a similar concept that we had here in Ottawa, Canada where the city would provide pipes and needles for drug addicts. It's just sad.
It is sad, I live in Vancouver and this sort of program is used with all the drug addicts and I feel its goverment assisted suicide. I guess the only positive is their of the streets and less likely to put others in danger as they kill themselves.
Martuin said: "It is sad, I live in Vancouver and this sort of program is used with all the drug addicts and I feel its goverment assisted suicide. I guess the only positive is their of the streets and less likely to put others in danger as they kill themselves."
sanjosemike responds: Actually, it's Catholic Church assisted suicide.
I think the concept is a good one. alcoholics have a safe place to be so they can reflect on their lives. The normal life on the streets is one of mere survival, so you don't have time to get your head together and want to accept treatment and change.
You can't force a person to change, especially an addict. One day the addict makes up their mind and seeks help, or they eventually die. Its their choice.
In America the solution is to put harsh laws on the books, not to rehab the druggies, but to make them move away to OTHER cities.
Push the problem to somebody else, thats the American way.
Let them drink themselves into the grave, it what they want to do and it's cheaper if they're dead. I say let them have access to methanol if they choose to go out like that let them.
So compassionate, things in life can change the opinions that you hold, I hope you never experience them, but things happen.
If you have such constructive ideas, why don't you do these people a favor and execute them?
@Truefax Man, your arrogance and self-righteous judgementalism is matched only by your profound ignorance. There is no "what they want". They WANT not to drink. The addicts say so in the article. People with addictions have altered brain chemistry that makes it almost impossible to quit. I say almost, because there are cases in which a spiritual approach can help. However, it is tough and many people are just not capable of doing so. If you want to read what it can be like – both for the addict and for their family – please read "Terry" by George McGovern. He lost a child to alcoholism in the 90s. It wasn't that she didn't try. The book details the many ways that she did try. However, in the end, the addiction was just too strong. I challenge you to read that book with an open mind (and an open heart) and come out the other end saying "it would have been cheaper for her to be dead". If you can, I would suggest seeing your doctor about a heart implant (because you are definitely in need of one).
I agree that this is a horrible concept. However, let's at least have a bit of compassion for those who find themselves in this situation.
Sadly, I can understand your obvious anger and bitterness – both of my parents were alcoholics and drug addicts; one is dead and one is dying. Sadly, because of these addictions, our entire family has been destroyed. I have siblings in prison due to drugs, an alcoholic brother, etc. However, one must have compassion. While as the only sober, successful child of addicted parents, I still have a dfficult time calling addiction a "disease," I am still compassionate to what I know about addiction. It's "like" a disease... it's consuming... The brain of an addict is so different from the brain of a non-addict. It's a prison – a chosen prison at first – but it ends up holding the person hostage, many times until his/her death. It's a sad thing – addiction, and I think that a wet house and the fostering of addictive behaviors are an absolute tragedy. How about spend the money and save the people? My heart hurts reading this story.
@Blue in North Carolina
You're the self-righteous dip stick.. Who cares if you read some shi**y book about someone who drank themselves to death in the 90's. Truefax was expressing his opinion about the subject (which is one of the reasons these open forums exist) not looking for a sermon. I happen to agree with him. Move along nerd.
Since they can't stop there needs to be a way to lock them up to detoxify ...... and not be allowed to leave AT ALL until it is 'out of their system' . Then heavy duty counseling . If you cannot lock them out of alacohol then there will be no help.
The only alternative is to let them drink their lives away . Voluntarily putting yourself in a treatment facility DOES NOT WORK . If the patients are allowed to give up and leave, then it fails .
@Blue in North Carolina – you sound like a 'its a disease, not a choice' kind of person. That is more enabling that the wet house is! If we had two people, one with cancer and one w/ alcoholism, and dropped them on a deserted island, guess what?...one would be cured and the other would still die. Many of us who have lost friends or family to this vice had difficulty reconciling our love for these folks withe their choice to drink/use, but sadly it is a choice. If theses folks want help, then we should die trying to help them as we would anyone suffering. Otherwise accept that there is pain in this world you cannot control. Also, baby jesus, mother mary, yadda yadda yadda...
Methanol is truly poisonous, will kill a person in short order.
I think you meant to say ethanol as in grain alcohol.
Personally I'd rather not have some stupid kid drink methanol
and wind up blind or dead. Never under estimate the level that
addicts will stoop too.
@Dennis Sigh! You really should understand the difference between self-righteousness and compassion. And yes, it is his opinion and he has every right to express it. However, I happen to believe that opinions should be based at least to some small degree on thoughtful reflection and understanding, not the the need to throw some bile in other people's direction (old fashioned, I know). If that makes me a nerd, then I accept your name calling as a badge of honor (although the epithets and name calling that you engage in does not lead me to think that it was meant that way). Have a nice day!
This is good intentions, run amok. Only God can save the unwilling, but we need not and should not enable the addict.
You seem to be addicted to your mythical being. Can we rehabilitate you?
@jake'sgaylover: spoken like a true queen.
I live in St. Paul and know St. Anthony Residence. Every guy there has been through detox and treatment more times than can be counted. For them the traditional AA/minnesota model has failed. The only way to give them a better quality of life, better disease management, and at a more effective cost is to go with the harm reduction model. St. Anthony is just a manifestation of the harm reduction model. Traditionalists just don't like the idea of harm reduction. That's it... Grow up people!
I agree David, I just think people never truly affected by addiction dont realize that its not realistic to think that someone this deep in addiction can not just stop. Reducing the possibility of hurting others and making their lives a little more comfortable while sadly they will eventually end their lives because of their addiction is a positive.
Well said, David.
Let's not forget that politcally incorrect concept of Christian charity and love... is it more loving to allow addicts to die alone in the gutter? It's difficult for people to not want to play God and judge others. Just as it has been difficult for me to keep a charitable heart and not judge the citics of the wet house program.
This just seems cruel.
Makes perfect sense to me. Get all of the alcoholics and druggies together and let them kill themselves, problem solved
Hope the ones in need never are your son or daughter or someone close to you, pretty sad that you would believe their better off dead.
Oh you mean Alcohol is bad for you.....well we should make it illegal.....everyone knows that will make people stop.....
Yea well...it's not alcohol that is the problem It's ciggarettes .... We all know smoking kills more people . Smoking causes you to: drive wreklessly , go home and beat your wife/kids/dog , lose your job , pick fights with people bigger than you and do things you normally wouldn't do if you were not smoking . Thats why ciggarettes are this >|< close to being illegal .oh wait .... All that stuff is alcohol related ...and it's LEGAL .... never mind .
Hmmm...... I believe this is in Gov. Pawlenty's & Representative Bachman's state.
Batsh!t crazy Bachmann ? Bwawahahahah
i agree with trufax. im tired of peoples money being spent on people who dont want to help themselfs. whats next? a free buffet for over eaters? lol this is what they chose for their life at least not they can do it out of sight without hurting anyone else. and thats the real issue is if what you do causes harm to others. well they've made a way where you are only hurting yourself and its a good idea.
Everyone seems to be forgetting that humans nature is usually programed to have vices and addictions. Even with therapy and counseling sometimes those things can't be overcome no matter how willing the drug addict or alcoholic is to kick the habit.
If it's all about money, bullets are cheaper than beds. Enabling their addiction is no help to them or anyone else.
Ok well I think I am going to try and smoke myself to death with the good stuff right about now....oh wait, that's right, you can't OD on weed!
Are you proud to be a stoner? What have you contributed to society and yourself since you started stoning, besides sitting the the corner of a smoky room with glazed eyes for hours on end?
sanjosemike, not everyone who smokes weed is a 'stoner'...plenty of us are intelligent, contributing members of society who happen to enjoy a relaxing toke every now and again. just because it's illegal and alcohol isn't doesn't make the former any more destructive or dangerous than the latter; both need to be used with good judgment and the sense not to let your consumption get out of hand.
oops, wait, sorry, what am i doing sitting here typing an eloquent response? i should go sit in the corner with my eyes glazed over...
sanjosemike: Another "useless stoner" here. I'm a college graduate, well-spoken, well-dressed, professional, contributing member of society who prefers the relaxing, mellow high of marijuana to that of alchohol, which tends to make a person beligerent, irresponsible and numb. I have friends who are cops who have told me that they wish MJ was legal and alcohol was not. Spend your time online learning something instead of posting ignorant comments. Thanks!
way to look like a tool mike..
sanjosemike – LMAO – you have no idea what you are talking about. I smoke pot from time-to-time, and I am a college educated women who workes as a Corporate Administrator for a global engineering firm. I am a mom of two, I am the sole supporter of my family while my husband stays home with our two young children. Most of my friends, and even my family, have smoked or currently smoke pot. They are ALL law abiding (with the exception of smoking pot) citizens, many of whom are also highly educated or have advanced degrees, all have great jobs and contribute to society. There are three people on both sides of our family (both my husband's family and my family) who have major issues – guess what that is? ALCOHOL. People like me and others who know what pot can do (reduce stress, help ease pain) look at comments like yours and see total ignorance. There is one big fat reason why pot is not leagal and it has NOTHING to do with the effects on the human body – its called money and power. Thanks to pot prohibition, our country employes cops, prison guards, border agents...it creates jobs. Unfortunately, we also miss out on taxing and making and income; allowing small businesses to produce this crop; and the medical community who has mostly come on board with this. So dont give the rest of us who actually know about this drug, the line that we are all deadbeat losers who sit in a corner with our eyes glazed over. You just sound like a tool.
This from the Catholic Church? I don't understand it. They are against abortion and euthanasia. Why not just give these alcoholics a couple of cyanide pills and hand out nooses. it's also cheaper.
My sister is an alcoholic. She has been through rehab five times. She has been through detox – I don't know how many times, I've lost count. Her family is becoming collateral damage as we endure the stress of trying to help her, and the cost is a serious burden to the family, her employer, and her insurer. It is becoming clear to us that our choice is one of two things:
1. Destroy the entire family in trying to help my sister, or
2. Allow her to drink.
It doesn't make sense to destroy the lives of many in hopes of saving one, and my first responsibility is to my family. Consequently, we need to allow my sister to drink.
My condolences. You don't have much choice. You've done all you could. You may have bankrupted your family in the process. Nobody could blame you for "giving up."
It is not about giving up. It is about personal responsibility and survival. When the addict continues to make bad choices afer being helped, it becomes the addict's responsibility. The family needs to remove themselves from the situation because they have become enablers. They have a responsibility to the other members of the family not to allow someone who makes bad choices to impact the rest of the family.
An aquaintance of mine is addicted to coke. Whenever her body becomes too devastated, she goies into rehab to build herself back up. Then she returns to the drug life. Once, when she was putting gas in her car to return to the Big D after a stint in rehab, she looked at me and said: "You know, I have to choose it," meaning she has to choose sobriety over drugs before she will begin a sober life. Until she makes that choice, the cycle will repeat.
It is sad. After working in the ER I fully support this kind of house. It is uncomfortable to say that we need facilities like this but if you work with this population you realize that it is. One drunk in the hospital system was figured to cost the county over a million dollars over a course of 3 yrs. I would go as far and say some people should be sentenced to a wet house, after they are a proven burden on society.
I'm not saying that I disagree with you, but it's beyond hypocritical and disingenuous for the Catholic Church to sponsor assisted suicide.
its obviously NOT mike
ADA Logo and Original flavor?? That aint rum, that guy is drinking listerine.
Haha so glad someone else noticed! What's up with that? Couldn't splurge on a bottle of whiskey for the photo shoot, or PhotoShop in some Jim Beam?
I thought the same thing. That's not a bottle of liquer – it's some sort of mouthwash. Listerine, Nyquil and the like do contain a small amount of alcohol. At least he's got fresh breath and his teeth are probably healthy. Who know's what that stuff does to your insides though.
Did you read the article?
""This is my lifestyle," says Hagerman, 54, while sneaking a swig of what he calls "wash," or mouthwash – a cheap way of getting intoxicated. "It ain't much, but this is what I have. It sucks. ""
You do realise that if you read the article it states him taking a drink of "wash" so for relavance it would make more sense to have the picture taken with the mouthwash. On a second note, way to focus on the issue of the article.
If you actually *read* the article, you would notice in paragraph 2 that it is stated that he IS drinking mouthwash. It's also pointed out in paragraph 4 that he isn't supposed to be drinking mouthwash onsite (so why is it in the picture). He also has to drink outside (paragraph 5) which is consistent with the photo.
Wow, let's just go ahead and have herion houses and meth houses while we're at it. Glad I don't live in Minnesota where my tax dollars would be supporting this. And gotta love the extended pinky finger while slugging from the mouthwash bottle. At least he's staying classy.
He sure is classy, unlike you.
It might just be a good idea. There have been programs tried where the government provides addicts with safe drugs that aren't contaminated like ones purchased on the street. The criminality aspect is taken away, so addicts no longer have to engage in theft or violence to obtain drugs, and their health is monitored. The pure drugs aren't as damaging to the body as street drugs which are often "cut" with dangerous chemicals, and overdoses are rare because the drugs dispensed are of known strength. Many addicts have died because of street drugs that are unexpectedly strong or laden with toxic chemicals.
Heroin and meth are illegal drugs, alcohol is not. Small difference, but relevent.
and they make marijuana illegal? This is a joke of the century.
Techno Viking, Are you proud to be a stoner? What have you contributed to society and yourself since you started stoning, besides sitting the the corner of a smoky room with glazed eyes for hours on end? Is marijuana really worth dedicating your life to it?
One day you will finally grow up and put away your Bob Marley poster.
Very good point Techno Viking.
As for you sanjosemike, you are nothing but a spineless troll, and just because you (most likely) have your own substance abuse problems (based on your personal aggression to a valid point) doesn't mean you have to assume all people are at your level.
Makes sense, pot is less addictive, impossible to od on, and doesn't have as deleterious health effects. But our system would much rather keep people drunk and stupid, they're easier to control.
@sanjosemike and Rick, really? lol, way to troll and look like asses, bob marley poster? lol obviously ricks mad about not fitting in with the rasta crowd back in the day and sanjosemikes mad he can score an 8th
sanjosemike, you are ignorant. Try thinking beyond stereotypes and educate yourself.
dustl said: "Very good point Techno Viking. As for you sanjosemike, you are nothing but a spineless troll, and just because you (most likely) have your own substance abuse problems (based on your personal aggression to a valid point) doesn't mean you have to assume all people are at your level.
sanjosemike responds: Actually, I am a retired physician. I don't have substance abuse problems. But I have treated and seen many who do have it. I have nothing against medical pot. But the pot heads I have seen contribute nothing. Amy I wrong in wanting people to have a "reason" for occupying space on this planet? Why does that make me a mindless troll?
you are spineless. Techno Viking brings up a valid point and you call him essentially a useless drug addict. So if you overhear two guys talking about what they had to drink last night at a bar, are you going to butt in and accuse them of being alcoholics who have nothing to contribute to society?
sanjosemike: how do you figure I'm a pothead? You don't know me. How can you judge me, especially over the internet? Yes, I am a casual smoker, I prefer to smoke a spliff over a bottle or two of beer. Is that wrong? I'm a successful individual actually, with a wife and kids. Judging by the fact that you're retired clearly suggests that you're old school and you have your mind brainwashed by the government or the FDA.
sanjosemike everyone knows your just a regular guy that smokes the doob, and works at an insurance agency. Everyone here knows youve never done a single thing EVER to help or prevent anything, troll. Phycision!?! thats a laugh an a half.
Give them a suicide pill and allow them to end their misery. Why do we force them to hang around and destroy their lives when we all know the outcome? Most will drink themselves to death others might chose to walk in front of a train. Either way, it is suicide. So why not make it more dignified and give them the option of a one shot clean processes. One pill is all it takes.
Hitler had all the mentally ill put into the back of sealed trucks and driven away. The trucks were specially built so that the exhaust was pumped into the back to kill them. You and your ideas would have been greatly appreciated in Nazi Germany.
Alcoholics use drink to mute pain. The body's response is to develop a need for the chemical. In turn. the addiction compounds the rest of the individual's emotional and physical issues. The result is a horrific cycle. It's not a person who wants to die, it's a person who wants the pain to be gone.
I am glad you don't understand. It means you have never felt the way they have. Either that or you have such deep faith in the Lord that you could fight your demons off. Somehow from your lack of compassion, I doubt that. I will pray for you that you never know their despair.
Ma'am you are quite compassionate with your ideas. I am interested in how much a life is valued in your eyes. $1000? $2000? When the shoe is on the other foot I hope you ask for what your stating here instead of begging for help.
"St. Anthony, which receives funds from the state and the Catholic church, is known as a "wet house" because Hagerman and the others are allowed to drink on site, with some caveats – including no mouthwash. "
What's the reasoning there? "All right Johnson, here's your bottle of Jack. Hey hey hey! What's that in your backpack? MOUTHWASH?!?"
I think it ironic that the drunk is still alive and both his bothers are dead from other causes.
i see no problem here, this is just nature running its course basically, survival of the fittest. You dont want to live? ok go there and drink yourself away. I think its a great concept other than wasting peoples time trying to help somone when two weeks later their gonna be back on the bottle. Drugs and alcohol weeds out the not so smart people. Dont you guys get that? the government is actually doing us a favor so we dont have to deal with that stuff.
Alcoholics and drug addicts are unintelligent?? You have no idea, its sad how stupid you sound.
addicts are buddy, and i approve this message
Why don't they just provide them with a vat of 151 proof rum and a quart of generic sleeping pills. That ought to knock off the whole place in a week. Much cheaper than letting them slowly kill themselves at the church and states expense.
you have no compassion...I pity you.
this is the entire working class under Republican rule!
I completely agree with the existence of these wet houses ..BUT cost effective ? I work 40 hours a week and make 1200 a month ..so this place somehow finds 1500 dollars worth of food and liqour to spend on the residencee's ? thats a lot of liqour and food ! they must be drinking patron and goose.
Alcoholics don't eat. They just drink.
sometimes they nap
This is an intriguing idea, i can see both sides of the debate, i am honestly at a personal split decision. On one hand i see the reasons to try to rehabilitate, the drunken fool doesn't understand, comprehend, or care what pain he is causing his family and friends. On the other hand i kind of like the idea of rounding up all the alcoholics and druggies and putting them in a place that i dont have to be seen by them and my kids or for that matter get harassed for "spare change" EVERY TIME i go downtown. The more i speak my mind here im starting to think that this is a good idea, at least provide them some sort of safe environment to self destruct, at least that will thin street crimes and street bums all while giving the family and friends some peace of mind knowing that their beloved family member has chosen to implode but at least had to good thinking to do it in a semi safe semi controlled environment. I agree with this idea fully
Growing up with an alcoholic father, I thought drinking was part of every day life. I'm 1 of 5 boy's and we all felt that way. It's what we were witness to for years. As we grew older and adapted to the same lifestyle, my father finally picked a day and quit drinking. No AA, no therapy, no hospitals, just pure will power. At about this same time, I also noticed a change in my father and it wasn't good. My father was always a very outgoing person. Everybody loved him. But when he quit drinking, he smiled less. He became withdrawn. I watched him turn into a very unhappy person.
About a year later, one of my brothers got hit with a DUI. He blew .27, driving a Roadrunner over 100 MPH. He quit drinking after that. Cold turkey, just like my father. I also watched a change in him.....just like my father.
Now in steps me. Call me dumber, call me weaker, I really don't care, just know that I couldn't quit on my own. After experiencing many consequences of my drinking, I still couldn't leave it alone. I can think of a hell no worse than wanting to stop something and not being able to. I finally accepted the fact that alcohol had kicked my a$$. I admitted that I was an alcoholic and that it was stronger than me. I knew I had to quit. But then I would think of my father and brother. I would think about how miserable they've been since they quit drinking. It didn't sound no more appealing than my situation at the time.
I had been court ordered in the past to attend alcohol abuse classes, etc., but it was a waste of time. See, that was before I gave alcoholism the respect it deserved. That was before I admitted to myself that I had a problem. Now, here I am, 37 years old and not a pot to pi$$ in or a window to throw it out of. I sought help. Via my probation officer, I received affordable therapy thru a funded program. I really liked this guy. He taught me about alcoholism. He showed a genuine interest in my well being. He taught me that alcohol was not my real problem. It was just a symptom of my real problem. The real problem was in my head and my heart.
Per a court order, I had to apply at a half-way house for alcoholics. There was no guarantee that you would get in. It was completely up to the house director as to who was admitted. If you wasn't accepted, most likely, you went to jail. I was scared to death. I really did want to get better, but didn't know how this was going to help. I soon learned. I was accepted. You had to pay rent of $65 a week. This included everything you needed to survive. The place mainly ran off of donations. You had chores you were responsible for and you had to become active in AA and have a sponsor. If you were in good standing, you got a overnight leave on the weekend and the place fed you like a king. You had to maintain a job and stay out of trouble. If you came in under the influence of anything, out you went.
The director, who I thought was going to be hell on earth, turned out to be the first of many angels put in my path. I grabbed ahold of that old mans coat-tails and I didn't want to let go. He emitted a power that kept me in awe. He was an extraordinary man. I was ordered to stay in that house for 90 day's. I stayed a year.
Not only have I quit drinking, I am happy. I feel I treated myself. It's all about trying to be the best you can be. I'm sure some of you will poke fun at me and my God, and thats ok. One thing I've learned is not to worry about what everyone thinks, just about what you know. I've also learned that I am responsible for my happiness, no one else. I apply that daily.
I just celebrated 8 years of sobriety in March and just closed on my new home. On the down side, it kills me to see my father so miserable. My mother past away about 6 years ago and he basically died when she did. We can't get him to go seek help. He just doesn't want it. My brother? He's back to drinking. Didn't drink a drop for 15 years and now goes thru about a fifth a day. I stay around him as much as I can, hoping it will spark something inside.
There are those of you who say this is not a disease. It's a choice. Many doctors and myself disagree. Chemical reactions take place in the brain once the switch of alcoholism (addiction) is tripped and they are to never change back to normal. I'm sorry, but I don't see a physical change in the body as a choice.
Anyhoo, there's my story. The short of it anyway. Life is good. I always knew that, I just didn't know how to make it that way. Now I do. God Bless. 🙂
hey buddy..... just write a book, ok? lol
Thank you for your moving and corageous post. It is so refreshing, with all of the comments from intellectual and moral Neanderthals, to have somebody who tells it like it really is from the addict's point of view.
May G-d bless you in your recovery (as I see that He already has).
Thanks for sharing your story, it's so much more difficult to say to kill off a whole group of people when you're based in reality.
Remember anyone can quit drinking,its getting Sober that matters, AA makes that possible.
your story is inspiring, and i wish you continued good health and sobriety. thank you for sharing.
You are a great writer...God bless you.
First time I've ever commented on CNN. God bless you.
I think these alcoholics pity themselves too much. "Look how bad my life is. My family hates me. I can't get a job." Yeah, no $&*# you can't get a job, and no wonder your family hates you. It's YOUR fault.
Sorry, but I don't have an ounce of pity for people who continually destroy their lives every day. The people I save pity for are people with cancer, terrible diseases, or have lost loved ones in tragic ways. But the thing is, the people who you actually pity, do not pity themselves. It's just the alcoholics/drug addicts who want everyone to pity the struggle that they perpetuate themselves into day in- day out.
@sanjosemike have YOU contributed ANYTHING, EVER! STFU why dont you go to a wet house, see if you cant get that big bottle of haterade outa ur A$$
You misunderstand me. It's not that I disagree with this concept, but I can't understand why the Catholic Church funds it. It doesn't fit in with their teachings. Actually I have contributed a lot to many charities, both in terms of money and my personal time. You really don't know me so I don't understand why you think you can judge me. Also, please stop using abbreviations. If you have a post to send it's worth using the entire word, even if it takes more time. You'll have more credibility.
dont hate on me casue you cant score some doob man, lol
thejerr said: "dont hate on me casue you cant score some doob man, lol"
sanjosemike responds: Your chronic pot use is affecting your manual dexterity (you can't control your hands). In addition, it is severely clouding your thinking. You fully believe your posts make sense. In fact, almost nobody here can understand them. That's just two of the effects of chronic pot use. Soon you will have nothing but mush in your cranium. I bet your mum is proud of you.
Im sure she is their docter... lol, i dont care about perfect spelling and gramer as long as people can somewhat read they can read what im typing. lay off the drugs man, and tlak about what you know, cause you obviously know NOTHING about drugs and alcohol. im still rolling that you brought out the "your mom". so you're a 15 – 16 year old doctor? haha whats up DH?
Wow you are actually belittling someone for not doing drugs, are so ignorant as to actually state to not care whether you use proper spelling or grammar, and have the audacity to call them out at the same time for having any opinion what-so-ever? You are the kind of person that really makes us Americans look bad because we are slowly becoming what you are and its becoming acceptable. I honestly pity you and hope some day you can over come your either poor genetics or lack of thinking skills and can become an intelligent prosperous individual and not the social norm and the ever thriving poor idiot.
Why is it up to us to 'save' everybody, to enforce our morrailty on everybody? I like this idea. it's realistic. It is humane, it gives people a safe place to live and pallative care. It does not PROVIDE their addictive vice, it just doesn't kick them out if they indulge. If you nay sayers took time to read the article, counseling IS avalaible, just not mandated. Isn't this better than leaving them on the street?
He states that who is going to higher a 55 yr old man, well who is highering 18 yr old kids. Only places that I can think of are fast food joints. Apply there and hopefully he will get that sense of responsibility back and push forward. Also, he states that he can't stand it and but there is nothing he can do. Thats the alcohol talking because he is scared of change now. You can do anything but its up to that person to change. I don't feel sorry for someone when they don't try and change. He gave up on himself and thats sad.
I blame the church.
Why doesn't CNN hire new journalists? More than half of the articles I read on this site seem as if a 3rd grader wrote them. Proof reading anyone???
@everyone complaining about taxes paying for this
two things, first, the church is paying, not the gov
second, if you read the article, you would know that is costs an estimated $2500 less than letting them live on the streets
for the people saying this is inhumane or similar
is it really more humane to let them live on the streets with no access to care or basic hygiene
CharlesLaton: if YOU would read the article you would notice that the St. Anthony house "receives funds from the STATE AND the Catholic church".... so taxpayer money IS being spent on this program.
I was thinking that something like this would be a good way to deal with people like this. People don't like seeing homeless people on the street and they don't wan't alcoholics stumbling around in traffic. There not going to stop. If they want to die slowly nothing you or me or Moyers says will stop them . My "wife" (we've been seperated for over 6 years) won't . She's been to treatment. As soon as she got out she was sneeking around drinking again till she's just like this guy. Her and her boyfriend have lived in the desert in cars, tents, and under bridges. You might askwhy we're not divorced, money. If I dad it to do over I wouldn't. Marrage is paying money to the state for a piece of paper, and paying even more to nulify that piece of paper. Don't do it.
"Jesus Christ, I turn 55 in September, I'm getting old. Who wants to hire a 55-year-old man?"
People will hire a 55-year-old man, but they won't hire a drunk, no matter the age.
I am a recovering drunk. There are millions of people like me. Come join us. Life can be beautiful!
Tell 'em Jim. It's never too late to get sober. My hat's off to you. Keep up the good work.
Makes sense to spend a few thousand helping those who want to kill themselves to do it quickly and more efficiently. This is probably a lot cheaper than locking them up or putting them in mental asylums for years. A little retroactive euthenasia can be a good thing. Providing a safe place for people to drink or dope themselves to death makes sense, and keeps them off the roads where their destructive behavior won't take out anyone else.
I have several family members with substance abuse problems, this might be a solution (though not optimal). Some of them have been sober for short periods of time but they always go back. My parents are enablers – the bail uncles with mutiple DUIs out of jail, help my brother pay bills when he can't hold down a job, ect. I even have one uncle who needed a liver transplant and was sober for several years to receive one; he started drinking not long after his operation. They get sober because wives or family members want them to, not because they want to. To be perfectly frank, there is no way in the heck I'm going to support my brother when my parents pass – he'g going to have to make a choice to either end up in a place like this or sober up for good...
These types of shelters are exactly what addicts who do not want to give up their addiction need. Someone addicted to alcohol, heroin, etc will only ever stop if THEY want to. No amount of preaching, incarceration, or even being ostracized by their family will get them to stop. I know first hand as my sister is a 10-year plus heroin addict, been through rehab dozens of times, jail, etc.
To those who are against this – what is your alternative? These people will drink, so "rehab" is not the answer. Letting them live on the streets, under a viaduct, not knowing where their next meal is, is not the way a western civilization should treat its citizens.
At least with this "wet house" the addicts can be regularly checked by doctors, they're surrounded by others who are in the same position as them (they're not isolated), and most importantly they have a stable HOME from which they can try to beat their addiction if they want.
Regarding the clan needle clinics that are all over the world and growing thankfully, they help reduce the risk of transmitting diseases, some provide pure pharmaceutical heroin so that users do not overdose (they know EXACTLY how much they're using, no cuts) and there are doctors with Narcan onsite. There are counselers too, but as before, only when an addict WANTS to stop will they stop. Trust me I've tried the "shunning" and "preaching" route many times.
I live in the Twin Cities, and read about this place several months ago in the paper.
Makes perfect sense.
At some point you have to realize that not everyone can, or want to live life sober.
If they didn't have this place, they would be homeless on the streets.
This program saves tax money in the long run.
I had a close friend who would have fit into this situation. We all hoped for his sobriety, but this was how he wanted to live.
It's ok, and more respectful to the individual to accept it.
I prefer mint Scope.
let them kill themselves. its what they want. thining out the gene pool!
I resent that my tax money is paying for this.
I don't. Not one bit. Would you rather pay for them to sit in jail? That'd be a beeeeet more spendy.
Just ship the to Wisconsin. It's a "wet state."
Once again the Catholic Church has a hand in allowing souls to rot while on their watch. I thought the Catholic Church taught that suicide was a sin and yet here they are providing a place for these medically ill individuals to kill themselves. Hey, at least that allow the priests to move on to more important things like preaching to the choir instead of wasting their time on the tough, sometimes unrewarding tasks of trying to instill fairth in others through prayer. This wet house merely serves to prove what every alcholic person believes anyway, that the world has no hope for them and that they have long ago been disgarded. Shame on the State Governments for their hands in this and Shame Shame Shame on the Catholic Church for preaching the importance of faith but then having none. If you believe that these struggling individuals are beyond hope than you are saying that God has limits. Think about it.
You have completely missed the point. You think its better to let them die in misery on the streets, than having some nurses and counselors around watching them and encouraging them to change? How on earth can you consider this assisted suicide? The alternative is what, stealing their bottle from them? Or putting them in jail for a few days? You think that's going to help? The church provides tons of ways to seek help before this, don't pretend that this is the only charity they run. Shame on them? Shame on you. Go out and volunteer for something instead of slamming the people that actually do something.
did YOU READ kevin? its WAY more expensive... guy
I'm moving to St. Paul, someone give me a drink.....
*hands you some mouthwash*
The wet house approach is no different then needle exchange programs for intravenous drug users. Yes it enables them to engage with their addiction but in a safer more humane way. There are some who think that government should get out of the humanity business and let natural consequences occur. But what does that really mean? Take a look at the unmitigated poverty of the past, prior to government mitigation and you'll see. If you want that again, it can be arranged. . .just cut off all government funding for all social programs. If you don't want rampant disease and crime and illiteracy and illegitimacy and hunger and violence and filth, however, you will want to let the government fund social programs.
I have mixed feelings about this. I drank and did drugs for many years. I made the choice to seek help and change the direction of my life. I am glad that they are doing this to make an attempt to help people, but by enabling them there can be no change. They offer counciling and a safe place to be but how do they choose who to help.
They should be encouraged to kill themselves and save the public that 18k a year. A paupers grave is real cheap.
And before you flame this, think about all the folks who aren't drinking themselves to death on donated money who could really use 18k a year. That feed/educate/shelter alot of people who actually matter.