home
RSS
Where alcoholics can drink themselves to death
Marion Hagerman, 54, is a chronic alcoholic who lives at a "wet house," a state-funded residence where he's allowed to drink.
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.

"It's not bad. I got cable TV," Hagerman says.   "You can't drink in your room, but you can drink. You gotta do it outside."

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."

Watch Sanjay Gupta MD Saturday at 4:30pm and Sunday at 7:30am ET. For the latest from Sanjay Gupta MD click here.


soundoff (2,434 Responses)
  1. tadalafil dosage

    research chemicals tadalafil tadalafil troche tadalafil warnings

    June 4, 2021 at 23:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Video Marketing Companies

    http://www.developer-resource.net/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=marketingpostfalls.com

    June 4, 2021 at 23:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. airstream restoration california

    https://pub.accesstrade.vn/deep_link/4511350997178678070?url=https://ocrvluxurycoaches.com/rv-repair-shop-apple-valley-california

    June 5, 2021 at 00:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. dog parks near me

    http://www.foxiewire.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=bestlocalnearme.com/

    June 5, 2021 at 00:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. body work shop near me

    http://guardiansteel.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=ocrv.art

    June 5, 2021 at 00:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Repair Shop For Mercedes Sprinter Vans

    I quite like reading an article that can make men and women think. Also, thank you for allowing me to comment!

    http://www.advertisementave.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=sprinterrepairnearme.com

    June 5, 2021 at 01:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. hydroxychlor

    chlorquine hidroxicloroquina chlorowuine

    June 5, 2021 at 05:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Van Door Repair

    I really love your website.. Excellent colors & theme. Did you create this site yourself? Please reply back as Iím wanting to create my own personal blog and would like to learn where you got this from or just what the theme is named. Thank you!

    http://nuevainglaterra.holaciudad.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=sprintervanrepair.com

    June 5, 2021 at 06:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. rv interiors san diego

    https://www.ontariocourts.ca/search-canlii/scj/newdecisions-en.php?link=http://ocrv.pro/rv-repair-shop-seal-beach-california

    June 5, 2021 at 06:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Social Media Marketing Agencies

    Right here is the perfect web site for everyone who hopes to find out about this topic. You understand so much its almost hard to argue with you (not that I really will need toÖHaHa). You definitely put a fresh spin on a topic which has been discussed for ages. Great stuff, just excellent!

    http://www.tradeportalofindia.org/countryprofile/redirect.aspx?hidcurmenu=divothers&countrycode=32&currentmenu=indiaandeu&redirecturl=https://www.webdesignpostfalls.com

    June 5, 2021 at 06:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. fedex store near me

    Greetings! Very helpful advice within this post! It is the little changes that will make the greatest changes. Many thanks for sharing!

    http://bood.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=www.bjsnearme.com

    June 5, 2021 at 06:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. clonidine hcl

    hydroxychloroquine sulfate 200 mg tab chloroquine price in india what is hydroxychlor

    June 5, 2021 at 07:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. tadalafil tablets ip

    tadalafil bph mechanism tadalafil vs vardenafil tadalafil from india reviews

    June 5, 2021 at 08:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Start Error Mercedes Sprinter Repair

    An impressive share! I have just forwarded this onto a colleague who had been doing a little research on this. And he actually ordered me dinner because I found it for him... lol. So let me reword this.... Thank YOU for the meal!! But yeah, thanks for spending time to talk about this issue here on your website.

    https://www.dartn.de/redirect/?url=https://sprintervanrepairshop.com

    June 5, 2021 at 08:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. orange county body shop

    http://matomex.com/dir/rank.cgi?mode=link&id=1406&url=http://ocrv.online

    June 5, 2021 at 09:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. cheap cialis

    vardenafil vs tadalafil cialis generic what is tadalafil

    June 5, 2021 at 10:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. canada generic tadalafil

    peptide pros tadalafil review generic cialis tadalafil tadalafil citrate

    June 5, 2021 at 17:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Mercedes Sprinter Service Center

    http://hungfat.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=www.sprinterrepairnearme.com/

    June 5, 2021 at 18:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Mercedes Sprinter Service Near Me

    https://www.etypeservices.com/Flash/LinkRedirection.aspx?IssueID=46912&Returnurl=https://ocrv.us/rv-repair-shop-bell-california

    June 5, 2021 at 18:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. nordstrom rack near me

    Excellent site you've got here.. Itís difficult to find high quality writing like yours these days. I truly appreciate individuals like you! Take care!!

    http://sc.hkexnews.hk/TuniS/www.nearmyspot.com

    June 5, 2021 at 20:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. 2008 Dodge Sprinter Exhaust Repair

    Good post. I learn something new and challenging on sites I stumbleupon everyday. It will always be interesting to read articles from other writers and practice a little something from their web sites.

    http://allianceoneinternational.co.uk/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=sprinterrepairnearme.com/

    June 6, 2021 at 00:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Sprinter Van Ecu Repair

    Iím amazed, I have to admit. Rarely do I encounter a blog thatís both equally educative and amusing, and without a doubt, you have hit the nail on the head. The issue is an issue that not enough people are speaking intelligently about. I'm very happy I found this during my hunt for something relating to this.

    http://www.boosterblog.com/vote-864130-668401.html?adresse=www.sprinterrepairnearme.com&

    June 6, 2021 at 01:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. toyhauler furniture

    https://schoo.jp/redirect?url=https://ocrvmotorsports.com/rv-repair-shop-agoura-hills-california

    June 6, 2021 at 02:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. chloroquine online

    hidroxicloroquina 400mg hidroxicloroquina what does hydroxychloroquine treat

    June 6, 2021 at 05:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. tadalafil drug

    tadalafil drug class side effects for tadalafil 20mg tadalafil

    June 6, 2021 at 05:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. mall near me

    There is certainly a great deal to find out about this topic. I love all the points you made.

    http://www.redcodewebservices.com/Redirect.aspx?destination=https://bestshopnearme.com/

    June 6, 2021 at 07:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Reynaldo Ficht

    You are a very bright person!

    http://www.stone-export.com/news/function/c_error.asp?errorid=38&number=0&description=&source=&sourceurl=https://cli.re/XepqB5

    June 6, 2021 at 10:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. buy chloroquine online

    quineprox quineprox kratom chloroquine hydroxy chloriquin

    June 6, 2021 at 12:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Start Error Mercedes Sprinter Repair

    Aw, this was a really nice post. Spending some time and actual effort to produce a top notch articleÖ but what can I sayÖ I procrastinate a lot and never seem to get nearly anything done.

    http://www.metalbuildingsonline.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=commercialrepairshop.com/

    June 6, 2021 at 13:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. west hills collision center

    You ought to be a part of a contest for one of the best blogs online. I will highly recommend this web site!

    https://www.paltalk.com/client/webapp/client/External.wmt?url=http://ocrvandtrucks.com/

    June 6, 2021 at 14:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. generic cialis tadalafil

    tadalafil com tadalafil online with out prescription tazzle

    June 6, 2021 at 19:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. tadalafil daily online

    tadalis sx tadalafil cost in canada tadalafil 20 mg tablet

    June 6, 2021 at 19:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. chloroquine 20

    is chloroquine phosphate over the counter warnings for hydroxychloroquine natural chloroquine

    June 6, 2021 at 20:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Sprinter Vanrooftop A/C Leak Repair

    Nice post. I learn something totally new and challenging on sites I stumbleupon everyday. It's always helpful to read through content from other writers and practice a little something from other sites.

    http://www.funny-games.ws/myspace.php?url=http://www.sprinterrepairnearme.com/

    June 6, 2021 at 22:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. vinyl wrap for rv

    http://enseignants.flammarion.com/Banners_Click.cfm?ID=86&URL=ocrv.org/rv-repair-shop-yucca-valley-california

    June 6, 2021 at 22:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. chloroquine phosphate

    does hydroxychloroquine have side effects clonidine plaquenil wiki

    June 7, 2021 at 02:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. cialis tadalafil

    megalis 20 mg tadalafil brands tadalis ajanta

    June 7, 2021 at 03:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. rv generator repair

    http://americanhotelhomestore.de/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=ocrvcenter.co

    June 7, 2021 at 08:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Jarvis Norstrud

    Hmm is anyone else encountering problems with the images on this blog loading? I'm trying to figure out if its a problem on my end or if it's the blog. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

    http://www3.bigcosmic.com/board/s/board.cgi?id=tetsujin&mode=damy&moveurl=https://cli.re/wrYZz2

    June 7, 2021 at 09:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. tadalafil daily online

    tadalafil tablets 60mg generic cialis online fast shipping tadalafil prescription

    June 7, 2021 at 10:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. seats near me

    Good information. Lucky me I ran across your blog by chance (stumbleupon). I've book marked it for later!

    https://www.tanken.ne.jp/cate/fhhanpu/rl_out.cgi?id=ox8448&url=https://ocrvcenter.info/rv-repair-shop-pasadena-california

    June 7, 2021 at 11:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. office supply store near me

    http://www.girisimhaber.com/redirect.aspx?url=http://nearmyspot.com/

    June 7, 2021 at 12:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Repair My 2006 Dodge Sprinter 3500 Rv

    Itís hard to find educated people for this subject, but you sound like you know what youíre talking about! Thanks

    https://worldlunghealth2020.theunion.org/index/out/?type=sponsor&url=https://sprintervanrepair.com

    June 7, 2021 at 14:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. tendances du coronavirus - france

    what is hydroxychloride hydroxychloroquin hydroxychloroquine side effects eye

    June 7, 2021 at 15:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. camper body repair

    I enjoy reading an article that will make men and women think. Also, thanks for allowing me to comment!

    http://salesnews.qantas.com/public/m/closed?msLRR=http://ocrv.info/rv-repair-shop-la-tuna-canyon-california

    June 7, 2021 at 21:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. tow truck repair

    http://redirects.tradedoubler.com/utm/td_redirect.php?td_keep_old_utm_value=1&url=https://blog.clamart-citoyenne.fr/index.php?post/2013/11/29/LOGO,-vous-avez-dit-LOGOS

    June 7, 2021 at 21:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Sprinter Van Body Repair

    https://sc.sie.gov.hk/TuniS/ocrvcenter.mobi/rv-repair-near-me

    June 7, 2021 at 21:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. RV Steps Near Me

    http://affiliate.joomla-monster.com/idevaffiliate.php?id=789&url=http://ingenieurleistungenreiter.com/index.php?option=com_phocaguestbook&view=phocaguestbook&id=1&Itemid=4&t=1340&limitstart=84380

    June 7, 2021 at 21:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. RV Service Repair Near Me

    https://cloud.squirrly.co/go34692/ocrv.fun/rv-repair-shop-inland-empire-california

    June 8, 2021 at 00:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. bus mechanic near me

    http://links.members.thrivent.com/ctt?m=17286294&r=MjU3NzIwNjQ5MTAzS0&b=0&j=MTg4MDAxMzYzMgS2&k=Link54-5&kx=1&kt=1&kd=http://theocrv.com/rv-battery-repair-near-me

    June 8, 2021 at 00:53 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39

Leave a Reply to realtor coeur d alene idaho


 

CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

Advertisement
About this blog

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.