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. Nearest RV Repair

    Everything is very open with a very clear description of the challenges. It was truly informative. Your site is useful. Thanks for sharing!

    http://clinicstudios.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=ocrvcenter.com

    June 21, 2021 at 05:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. spas near me

    You are so cool! I don't think I have read through a single thing like that before. So wonderful to discover another person with original thoughts on this issue. Seriously.. thank you for starting this up. This website is one thing that's needed on the internet, someone with some originality!

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

    June 21, 2021 at 05:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. near me

    Hi, I do believe this is an excellent site. I stumbledupon it 😉 I may return once again since i have book marked it. Money and freedom is the best way to change, may you be rich and continue to help other people.

    https://www.manacomputers.com/redirect.php?blog=B8B2B8ADB89EB8B4B880B88C&url=https://reviewnearme.com/E0B89AE0B8B2E0B884E0B8B2E0B8A3E0B988E0B8B2E0B8ADE0B8ADE0B899E0B984E0B8A5E0B899E0B98C/

    June 21, 2021 at 08:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. ket qua tennis truc tuyen

    Trực Tiếp Bóng Đá Thời Điểm Hôm Naytv24Nếu cứ nghịch như cơ hội vừa tiêu diệt Everton cho tới 3-1 trên sân khách hàng

    https://virandoamor.com/detail/7mvncn-97495.html

    June 21, 2021 at 09:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Camper Repair Places Near Me

    http://nickmoravek.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=ocrvcenter.com

    June 21, 2021 at 09:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. RV Repair Shop Near Me

    Nice post. I learn something totally new and challenging on blogs I stumbleupon everyday. It will always be helpful to read through articles from other writers and use a little something from their sites.

    http://talewiki.com/cushion.php?https://www.ocrvcenter.com

    June 21, 2021 at 09:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. dog adoption near me

    When I initially left a comment I appear to have clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and from now on each time a comment is added I receive 4 emails with the same comment. Is there a means you are able to remove me from that service? Many thanks!

    http://apartments-seiseralm.com/info.php?a%5B%5D=<a+href=https://nearmyspot.com

    June 21, 2021 at 10:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. contractors near me

    bookmarked!!, I really like your site!

    http://collegespiritfridays.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=masternearme.com

    June 21, 2021 at 11:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. propane gas near me

    I like it when individuals get together and share views. Great blog, keep it up!

    http://www.lagunabeach360.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=bjsnearme.com

    June 21, 2021 at 12:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. shopping near me

    http://buildingreputation.com/lib/exe/fetch.php?media=https://bestshopnearme.com

    June 21, 2021 at 12:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. suntrust near me

    http://pram.elmercurio.com/Logout.aspx?ApplicationName=SOYCHILE&l=yes&SSOTargeturl=https://bestservicenearme.com

    June 21, 2021 at 12:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Sprinter Repair Costs

    http://yellowpages.lcsun-news.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=sprinterrepairnearme.com/

    June 21, 2021 at 14:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Camper Van Repair Shop Near Me

    After I originally commented I appear to have clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and from now on every time a comment is added I get 4 emails with the same comment. Perhaps there is a means you can remove me from that service? Cheers!

    http://climbkatahdin.org/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=fleetautorepairshop.com

    June 21, 2021 at 15:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. livro o poder do chá de sumiço

    This is very interesting 579655612

    https://livroopoderdochadesumico.com.br

    June 21, 2021 at 19:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. livro o poder do chá de sumiço

    Great blog here! great article 81942100

    https://livroopoderdochadesumico.com.br/

    June 21, 2021 at 19:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. RV Repair

    After I originally commented I seem to have clicked on the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and now every time a comment is added I recieve 4 emails with the same comment. There has to be an easy method you can remove me from that service? Cheers!

    http://dyerfeeonly.net/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=ocrvmotorsports.us/

    June 21, 2021 at 20:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Alignment Shop Near Me

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

    June 21, 2021 at 21:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. rapid covid testing near me

    You are so cool! I do not believe I've truly read through something like this before. So wonderful to find someone with some unique thoughts on this issue. Really.. thanks for starting this up. This website is one thing that is required on the web, someone with a bit of originality!

    https://www.localhoneyfinder.org/facebook.php?URL=earme.a2hosted.com

    June 21, 2021 at 22:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Rv Frame Repair Shop

    This page really has all the info I wanted about this subject and didnít know who to ask.

    http://www.tekguide.net/cgi-sec/url_ext.cgi?https://campervanrepairshop.com/

    June 21, 2021 at 23:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. leadership online training

    I absolutely love your website.. Great colors & theme. Did you create this amazing site yourself? Please reply back as Iím hoping to create my own blog and would like to know where you got this from or exactly what the theme is called. Many thanks!

    http://guidecapital.net/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=menmastermind.com

    June 22, 2021 at 01:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Ford Luxury Van Repair

    http://www.picot.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=www.commercialvanrepairshop.com

    June 22, 2021 at 01:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. health online training

    http://hinseminars.net/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=www.menmastermind.com

    June 22, 2021 at 02:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Repair Van

    http://pdf.reportingsystem.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=sprintervanrepair.com/

    June 22, 2021 at 03:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Rv Maintenance

    Iím impressed, I must say. Rarely do I encounter a blog thatís both educative and interesting, and without a doubt, you've hit the nail on the head. The issue is an issue that not enough people are speaking intelligently about. Now i'm very happy that I came across this in my hunt for something regarding this.

    http://agfeed.info/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=customcampervans.com

    June 22, 2021 at 04:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. RV Electrical Repair Near Me

    I needed to thank you for this great read!! I certainly loved every bit of it. I have got you saved as a favorite to check out new stuff you postÖ

    http://dairybarnstores.org/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=ocrv.us

    June 22, 2021 at 05:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. online meditation training

    You're so awesome! I don't suppose I've read something like this before. So nice to find somebody with a few unique thoughts on this topic. Really.. many thanks for starting this up. This web site is something that is needed on the web, someone with a little originality!

    http://dolphinsystems.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=menmastermind.com

    June 22, 2021 at 05:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. RV Repair Near My Location

    Itís difficult to find well-informed people about this subject, but you sound like you know what youíre talking about! Thanks

    https://www.minibuggy.net/forum/redirect-to/?redirect=https://ocrvmotorsports.net/

    June 22, 2021 at 06:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Mercedes Camper Van Repair

    http://www.mmiworld.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=ocrvfleetservices.com

    June 22, 2021 at 08:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Sprinter Repair Costa Mesa

    http://fwua.org/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=ocrvmotorsports.net

    June 22, 2021 at 11:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Norbert Schmale

    You are so awesome! I don't suppose I've read something like that before. So wonderful to find somebody with some unique thoughts on this issue. Really.. thank you for starting this up. This website is one thing that is needed on the web, someone with some originality!

    http://latinaarts.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=nearme.a2hosted.com/rv-collision-repair-shop-near-me-now

    June 22, 2021 at 13:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. 24 Hour RV Repair Near Me

    http://email-hsn.net/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=www.ocrvexperts.com/

    June 22, 2021 at 14:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. the office podcast

    You made some decent points there. I looked on the net to find out more about the issue and found most individuals will go along with your views on this web site.

    http://click2insure.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=backbonehunters.com

    June 22, 2021 at 16:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. steve bannon podcast

    An outstanding share! I have just forwarded this onto a coworker who was conducting a little homework on this. And he in fact ordered me dinner simply because I stumbled upon it for him... lol. So allow me to reword this.... Thanks for the meal!! But yeah, thanx for spending some time to discuss this subject here on your web page.

    http://avaccineforviolence.org/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=backbonehunters.com

    June 22, 2021 at 17:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. RV Repair Near My Location

    http://www.levinberg.net/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=ocrvmotorsports.com

    June 22, 2021 at 17:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Restoration Shop

    http://doctorsonyourside.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=www.fleetservicerepairshop.com

    June 22, 2021 at 17:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Internet Marketing Firm

    https://www.scotland.org/Subscribe/WidgetSignup?url=consciousgrowthmarketing.com/

    June 22, 2021 at 20:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. how to upload a podcast to spotify

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

    http://www.sandfordwood.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=backbonehunters.com

    June 22, 2021 at 20:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. RV Repair Near Here

    http://thewildinvestor.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=www.ocrv.pro

    June 22, 2021 at 21:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. RV Service Repair Near Me

    Everything is very open with a precise explanation of the issues. It was truly informative. Your site is extremely helpful. Many thanks for sharing!

    http://epsilonvantage.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=ocrv.world/

    June 22, 2021 at 23:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. SEO Marketing Company Near Me

    I really like it when folks come together and share opinions. Great site, stick with it!

    http://www.sugarpunk.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=consciousgrowthmarketing.com

    June 23, 2021 at 00:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. RV And Truck Repair Near Me

    http://cooperty.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=rvmarketingexperts.com

    June 23, 2021 at 01:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. rss feed podcast

    Oh my goodness! Impressive article dude! Thank you so much, However I am encountering difficulties with your RSS. I donít understand the reason why I am unable to join it. Is there anybody else getting the same RSS issues? Anybody who knows the answer will you kindly respond? Thanks!!

    http://aroundtheglobetravel.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=backbonehunters.com

    June 23, 2021 at 01:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Honey Slonski

    How does a computer virus getting formed?. I have a lot of computer viruses lately but thanks to Norton Anti-virus and Malwarebytes Anti-malware my computer is 100 secure. But how does a computer virus formed? Do people actually make it and they spread it throughout the internet?. . Please tell me more about computer viruses cuz I don't know to much about it I just get rid of them..

    https://twitter.com/katekdesigns

    June 23, 2021 at 01:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. npr podcast survey

    https://meditation.org.au/podcast_description.asp?feed=http://backbonehunters.com

    June 23, 2021 at 02:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. h3 podcast

    Nice post. I learn something totally new and challenging on blogs I stumbleupon every day. It will always be exciting to read content from other authors and practice something from other websites.

    https://clickvue.com/es/ctainc2.php?clientname=creditu2181&cta=http://backbonehunters.com/

    June 23, 2021 at 04:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. RV Repair Near Me Now

    This is a good tip particularly to those new to the blogosphere. Simple but very accurate informationÖ Thanks for sharing this one. A must read post!

    http://fotostate.ru/redirect.php?url=https://ocrvcenter.com

    June 23, 2021 at 04:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. RV Tire Repair Near Me

    Great post! We are linking to this great content on our website. Keep up the great writing.

    http://www.deficitdeatencion.org/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=ocrvcenter.mobi

    June 23, 2021 at 04:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. free podcast hosting

    http://www.wittstock.chemie.uni-oldenburg.de/agef/link_extern.html?link=https://backbonehunters.com/

    June 23, 2021 at 05:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. RV Trailer Repair Near Me

    http://www.paulzip.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=ocrvcenter.com

    June 23, 2021 at 06:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. RV Generator Repair Near Me

    Excellent blog you have got here.. Itís difficult to find excellent writing like yours nowadays. I truly appreciate people like you! Take care!!

    http://www.e-librarian.net/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=ocrv.online

    June 23, 2021 at 06:13 | 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 vardenafil 20mg india manufacturer


 

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.