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. rv leak detection

    http://howard.edu/asp/linkcounter/resourcesondemand.asp?url=http://hootnholler.net/category/uncategorized/page/69/

    June 8, 2021 at 01:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. aralen buy

    hydrochloroquine aralen phosphate chloroquine phosphate chloroquine phosphate vs hydroxychloroquine sulfate

    June 8, 2021 at 01:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. RV Inspection Los Angeles

    https://my.volusion.com/TransferLogin.aspx?HostName=ingenieurleistungenreiter.de/index.php?option=com_phocaguestbook&view=phocaguestbook&id=1&Itemid=4&t=140&limitstart=85240

    June 8, 2021 at 01:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. buy chloroquine

    hco medical abbreviation aralen buy why is hydroxychloroquine

    June 8, 2021 at 07:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. rv solar installation los angeles

    http://oldtmt.vedomosti.ru/rss/toolbars/closeAd.php?backUrl=https://ocrv.guru/rv-repair-shop-santa-ana-california

    June 8, 2021 at 08:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. thvl1 online

    Trực Tiếp đá Bóng Việt Nam Vs Lebanon. Coi Truc Tiep Bong Da. Futsal Việt Nambang xep hang asian cupTrên băng ghế đào tạo, Lebanon đã bổ nhiệm Ramiro Lopez cơ hội đây 3 tuần. Nhà nắm quân nhân viên Tây Ban Nha nhà yếu đuối làm việc tại Ý và từng có thời hạn thực hiện việc trên Kuwait.|Và NHM bóng đá Việt Nam đang được chờ Minh Trí cùng đồng đội hóa giải đối thủ để tạo lợi thế cho trận lượt về tại đây hai ngày. Chelsea đã phải trải qua 8 phút bù giờ không thở được đảm bảo chiến thắng.

    https://sepiswestwood.com/detail/tivihayogr-95734.html

    June 8, 2021 at 10:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. ttbd

    Thẳng Bóng Đá Thời Điểm Hôm Nay, Link Coi Trực Tuyến Video Trường Hợp24h lylyTrên băng ghế đào tạo, Lebanon đã bửa nhiệm Ramiro Lopez cách đây 3 tuần. Nhà cầm quân nhân viên Tây Ban Nha nhà yếu đuối làm việc tại Ý và từng có thời hạn thực hiện việc trên Kuwait.|Và NHM bóng đá Việt Nam đang chờ Minh Trí cùng đồng đội hóa giải đối thủ để tạo lợi thế mang đến trận lượt về tại đây hai ngày. Chelsea đã nên trải qua 8 phút bù giờ khó thở bảo đảm an toàn thắng lợi.

    https://sepiswestwood.com/detail/chung-ket-c1-2018-76815.html

    June 8, 2021 at 13:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. xem vtv6

    Thẳng đá Bóng Việt Nam Vs Lebanon. Xem Truc Tiep Bong Da. Futsal Việt Nambóng đá k cộngTrên băng ghế giảng dạy, Lebanon đã xẻ nhiệm Ramiro Lopez cơ hội đây 3 tuần. Nhà cầm cố quân người Tây Ban Nha nhà yếu đuối làm việc trên Ý và từng có thời gian thực hiện việc tại Kuwait.|Và NHM bóng đá Việt Nam đang chờ Minh Trí cùng đồng đội hóa giải đối thủ để tạo lợi thế mang đến trận lượt về sau đây hai ngày. Chelsea đã cần trải qua 8 phút bù giờ khó thở đảm bảo thành công.

    https://murraystivoli.com/detail/live90tv-105891.html

    June 8, 2021 at 14:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. thvl1 truc tuyen

    Kênh Trực Tiếp đá Bóng Thời Điểm Hôm Naythe thao 24h.comTrên băng ghế đào tạo, Lebanon đã xẻ nhiệm Ramiro Lopez cơ hội đây 3 tuần. Nhà cầm quân nhân viên Tây Ban Nha công ty yếu ớt thực hiện việc trên Ý và từng có thời hạn làm việc trên Kuwait.|Và NHM bóng đá Việt Nam đang đợi Minh Trí cùng đồng đội hóa giải đối thủ để tạo lợi thế cho trận lượt về tại đây hai ngày. Chelsea đã cần trải qua 8 phút bù giờ khó thở bảo vệ chiến thắng.

    https://murraystivoli.com/detail/live-bdtv-19490.html

    June 8, 2021 at 14:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. RV Steps California

    Great article! We are linking to this great content on our site. Keep up the good writing.

    http://s5.histats.com/stats/r.php?1484558&100&34851&urlr=&game-mun.com/forum/index.php?topic=9295.0;prev_next=prev

    June 8, 2021 at 14:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. rv vinyl wraps

    https://www.etracker.de/lnkcnt.php?et=qPKGYV&url=https://hotnewsindia.com/female-snake-death/

    June 8, 2021 at 15:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. togel online

    I always spent my half an hour to read this web site's content all the time along with a
    cup of coffee.

    June 8, 2021 at 19:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Sprinter Door Repair Panel

    https://router.usconcealedcarry.com/auth/invalidate?redirectTo=http://ocrv.art/rv-vinyl-wrap-repair-near-me

    June 8, 2021 at 20:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. oc rv dealers

    https://www.igive.com/isearch/NonStoreExit.cfm?type=1&isid=0df7d37f-4feb-4f0f-b472-1df60f43914d&rurl=http://ocrv.today/rv-repair-shop-west-hollywood-california

    June 8, 2021 at 21:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. RV Maintenance Orange County

    https://dmca.com/Protection/Status.aspx?ID=edc817fd-d796-4c84-abb8-d1cb5b2e3719&refurl=https://www.game-mun.com/forum/index.php?topic=9147.msg103403

    June 8, 2021 at 22:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. camper van near me

    I truly love your blog.. Pleasant colors & theme. Did you build this amazing site yourself? Please reply back as Iím trying to create my own site and would like to find out where you got this from or just what the theme is called. Thanks!

    http://fishbiz.seagrant.uaf.edu/click-thru.html?url=http://thuzzle.pl/thuzzle1/

    June 9, 2021 at 00:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Social Media Marketing Agencies

    Good information. Lucky me I came across your website by accident (stumbleupon). I have book marked it for later!

    http://mojorecords.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=www.lifebusinessfitness.com

    June 9, 2021 at 01:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Internet Marketing Service Near Me

    http://www.iamcurious.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=ppcpostfalls.com/

    June 9, 2021 at 08:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Santos Pesick

    http://beauy59s1.full-design.com/Not-known-Details-About-repair-shop-42058958

    June 9, 2021 at 10:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Cheree Calisto

    Hi there! This article couldnít be written much better! Looking at this article reminds me of my previous roommate! He always kept preaching about this. I most certainly will send this article to him. Fairly certain he'll have a very good read. Many thanks for sharing!

    https://tieba.baidu.com/mo/q/checkurl?url=https://dominickp52k1.ka-blogs.com/54056999/the-best-side-of-rv-body-shop

    June 9, 2021 at 10:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Roderick Basora

    Excellent web site you have got here.. Itís difficult to find high quality writing like yours nowadays. I honestly appreciate people like you! Take care!!

    https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/reauthorization/reauexit.cfm?link=https://hectorw25c4.blogmazing.com/4076751/the-best-side-of-rv-body-shop

    June 9, 2021 at 10:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Chris Zancanella

    http://www.shinobi.jp/etc/goto.html?http://zionq03x2.blogoscience.com/5561785/fascination-about-digital-marketing-agencies-near-me

    June 9, 2021 at 10:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Dario Sadoski

    https://reidl81q9.thechapblog.com/4048598/getting-my-maserati-dealership-near-me-to-work

    June 9, 2021 at 13:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Angelo Viney

    Excellent article. I absolutely appreciate this website. Thanks!

    June 9, 2021 at 14:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Alix Soop

    http://help.dedecms.com/plus/player/index.php?url=https://brooksk82y3.iyublog.com/4144574/an-unbiased-view-of-craft-store

    June 9, 2021 at 14:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Video Marketing Agencies

    https://www.cs.odu.edu/~mln/teaching/cs595-s07/?method=display&redirect=https://www.juicycalls.com/

    June 9, 2021 at 15:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Hobert Rinderle

    http://arthuru13x2.bloggosite.com/6014045/relevance-of-appointed-day-successful-day-in-restructuring

    June 9, 2021 at 17:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Video Marketing Near Me

    Oh my goodness! Incredible article dude! Thank you, However I am going through problems with your RSS. I donít understand the reason why I can't join it. Is there anybody else getting similar RSS issues? Anyone who knows the answer can you kindly respond? Thanks!!

    http://gta.ru/redirect/online-website-marketing.com/

    June 9, 2021 at 18:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Celsa Arrison

    https://landenx25b3.blogunteer.com/4042520/5-essential-elements-for-rv-solar-panels-shops-near-me

    June 9, 2021 at 20:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Cletus Burney

    Hello there, There's no doubt that your web site might be having web browser compatibility problems. When I take a look at your web site in Safari, it looks fine however, if opening in I.E., it's got some overlapping issues. I merely wanted to give you a quick heads up! Besides that, excellent website!

    http://www.shinobi.jp/etc/goto.html?http://edgard47e5.idblogz.com/4596707/detailed-notes-on-digital-marketing-agencies

    June 9, 2021 at 21:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Eli Salisbury

    http://www.bshare.cn/share?url=https://arthurz48m9.xzblogs.com/42392994/security-companies-options

    June 9, 2021 at 21:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. rv repair

    http://ww17.yourname.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=our-southern-roots.com/duck-hunters-style

    June 9, 2021 at 23:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Cary Ryen

    You can definitely see your skills in the paintings you write. The sector hopes for even more passionate writers such as you who aren't afraid to say how they believe. Always go after your heart.

    https://image.google.nr/url?q=https://hoangthidieuxuan.blogspot.com/

    June 9, 2021 at 23:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Lamont Muckleroy

    https://www.bing.com/news/apiclick.aspx?ref=FexRss&aid=&url=https://andersonn81r9.digiblogbox.com/26284407/getting-my-google-marketing-experts-to-work

    June 10, 2021 at 00:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Bettye Hesson

    Everything is very open with a really clear description of the issues. It was truly informative. Your website is extremely helpful. Many thanks for sharing!

    http://images.google.be/url?q=http://kylery84r4.daneblogger.com/4069686/5-tips-about-seo-marketing-firm-you-can-use-today

    June 10, 2021 at 01:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Virgil Srour

    http://damienz36c4.slypage.com/5144782/everything-about-maserati-for-sale-near-bristol-va

    June 10, 2021 at 01:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. rv repair service near me

    http://local.kxlf.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=article.rabia.co.in/139153/just-how-to-accomplish-analysis-and-locate-the-best-rv-repair-near-me

    June 10, 2021 at 02:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Maynard Feutz

    This is a topic which is near to my heart... Thank you! Exactly where are your contact details though?

    https://andersonq03v1.bloggazza.com/4416864/worth-of-appointed-date-successful-day-in-restructuring

    June 10, 2021 at 03:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Darnell Wesloh

    Great blog you have here.. Itís difficult to find high quality writing like yours nowadays. I seriously appreciate individuals like you! Take care!!

    June 10, 2021 at 07:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Kendall Darty

    I enjoy reading an article that can make people think. Also, many thanks for allowing for me to comment!

    June 10, 2021 at 08:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. rv repair shop near me

    Howdy! I just want to give you a huge thumbs up for the great information you've got here on this post. I am returning to your site for more soon.

    http://www.snzg.cn/comment/index.php?item=articleid&itemid=38693&itemurl=http://benhammer.koeln/2020/10/15/stadt-mit-k-gespraech-mit-dem-koelner-stadt-anzeiger/

    June 10, 2021 at 08:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Devon Grosvenor

    http://finnv38l7.blog5star.com/4869537/how-vinyl-signs-near-me-can-save-you-time-stress-and-money

    June 10, 2021 at 08:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Cory Schauman

    There's definately a lot to know about this issue. I like all the points you made.

    http://andresu26h7.blogsidea.com/5638020/top-truck-services-secrets

    June 10, 2021 at 11:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Clinton Erxleben

    The very next time I read a blog, I hope that it doesn't disappoint me just as much as this one. After all, I know it was my choice to read through, however I actually thought you would probably have something interesting to say. All I hear is a bunch of crying about something you could fix if you were not too busy searching for attention.

    https://tieba.baidu.com/mo/q/checkurl?url=https://andyv15a3.bloguetechno.com/The-smart-Trick-of-repair-shop-That-No-One-is-Discussing-34714312

    June 10, 2021 at 11:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. rv repair near me

    Your style is very unique in comparison to other people I've read stuff from. Thank you for posting when you have the opportunity, Guess I will just bookmark this web site.

    http://biology.africamuseum.be/BiocaseProvider_2.4.2/www/utilities/queryforms/qf_manual.cgi?url=https://www.rowan3g9j9.liberty-blog.com/3496264/the-basic-principles-of-rv-service-near-me

    June 10, 2021 at 11:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Leandro Swearngin

    Great information. Lucky me I recently found your website by chance (stumbleupon). I have book marked it for later!

    http://zanders03v1.blog-gold.com/5598383/the-single-best-strategy-to-use-for-mechanic-spare-parts

    June 10, 2021 at 16:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. hotmail.app.br

    660585 178463I always was interested in this subject and still am, regards for posting . 884463

    June 10, 2021 at 17:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. rv repair near me

    http://openforbusinessmagazine01.businesscatalyst.com/Redirect.aspx?destination=https://gregory8c5g6.techionblog.com/3491367/an-unbiased-view-of-rv-repairs-near-me

    June 10, 2021 at 17:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Maximo Holabaugh

    https://ditu.google.cn/url?q=http://troyd61w3.blogsmine.com/4374517/not-known-factual-statements-about-lake-powell-jet-ski-rental-on-the-lake

    June 10, 2021 at 18:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Frida Tompsett

    https://sergioe71y4.bloggactivo.com/4136620/not-known-details-about-craft-store

    June 10, 2021 at 18:42 | 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

Post a comment


 

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.