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 (2,435 Responses)
  1. J

    What I don't get it why I have to pay to care for this guy when he has made a choice to live this way? I got all the "I"m addicted" arguments, but I love to drink as well. Love it. But, I make the concious effort not to let drinking effect my career or family life. Choice must, at some point, have ramifications. I guess my reall question is why do I have to face the ramifications of another person's choice?

    May 6, 2011 at 20:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. colonelingus

    Alcohol is the cause of and answer to all of life's problems.
    ... Homer J. Simpson.

    May 6, 2011 at 20:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. anon

    Why are you even reading this article, or the comments? Go away.

    May 6, 2011 at 20:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Jim M

    ( sorry for the double post, I intended this as a separate comment, not a reply)

    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.

    May 6, 2011 at 20:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Paul

    Based on the position of his pinkie finger...that must be pretty decent mouthwash!

    May 6, 2011 at 20:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Allen

    I haven't much good to say about religious organizations, but I have had some substantial experience with Catholic Charities in the last 18 months and I can tell you that these people are very good people. To be clear, I have not received assistance from them, but have worked with them to assist another.

    They give. That is what they do. They have used my money to help others and I am grateful for their efforts. Even if you question the intention or effect of this 'wet house', do not believe that Catholic Charities is a negative influence in our society. That is far from the truth.

    May 6, 2011 at 20:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. VinceRN

    Here in Seattle we have something like this, a city owned building where where "chronic inebriates" (the City's term) can stay and drink all they want. They can drink in their rooms here, and are welcome to drink themselves to death, use whatever drugs they want, and even to go out on the street to beg, relieve themselves and puke. The cool thing is that the city even provides the alcohol and you all are helping pay for it, it's supported in part by federal money so you guys not only have to pay for your local drunks, but ours as well. There's some cool pictures of some Downtown Emergency Services people unloading a truckload of beer for the building. There guys in Minnesota are amateurs.

    May 6, 2011 at 20:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Alex in NJ

    Alcoholism and addiction is a crutch. When I was in college i got a DUI and I had to go to an outpatient rehab type thing. They tried to go off on how I was the victim of the evil alcohol companies and the college lifestyle. Truth it I just made an awful decision and I am incredibly lucky I got caught and didn't hurt myself or worse, someone else. It was entirely my fault and mine alone. I wasn't a victim, I was a criminal. I've never driven after having even one beer since then and I will never make that mistake again. Also, just because I made one dumb decision with alcohol didn't make me an alcoholic either. I still drink on weekends and occasionally during the week if it's a beer with dinner but now I am more mature and do it more responsibly.

    May 6, 2011 at 20:45 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Wilsondog

      Alex your an ignorant moron.. it's not a crutch..you obviously are not an addict / alcoholic.. if you were you wouldn't be able to control your drinking. that's an alocoholic.. someone who cannot control their drinking.. although you are right when you say getting a DUI doesn't mean you're an alcohlic. you learned from your mistake and didn't do it again. but see, with addiction (you should read about it to understand it, or experience it yourself) is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.. aka, "insanity". I got a DUI and kept on drinking. I went to rehab, and kept on drinking.. it got worse and worse... I got an STD from being with someone i did n't know because I was so drunk.. and I kept sleeping with people when I was drunk.. i lost my jobs from being hungover all the time...i kept doing the same thing over and over again and thinking there would be no consequences "this time around". or "maybe this time i can control it?" well the only thing that helped me was to stop drinking completely. when someone with addiction takes the drug or drink, something happens in the brain.. the brain of an addict craves the drug, it is selfish..you have no idea what it's like. you haven't experienced it yourself.

      May 7, 2011 at 01:02 | Report abuse |
    • mark

      Attention Alex- Your view is hilariously simplistic. You obviously know very little about alcohol addiction. "Alcoholism; A medical disorder characterized by the excessive consumption of and dependence on alcoholic beverages, leading to physical and psychological harm and impaired social and vocational functioning." On a related subject, alcohol and tobacco are the two worst drugs that are still legal. There's been a lot of progress in exposing the damage tobacco can do, but not so much about alcohol. I blame the tobacco and liquor lobbies and the advertising industry. It's all about money.

      May 7, 2011 at 12:35 | Report abuse |
  9. Gary

    This is the future, folks. Government-funded communities where the hopeless and addicted can indulge themselves to death because it's cheaper and more effective than trying to cure them. It's George Carlin's "state prison farms" bit come to life.

    May 6, 2011 at 20:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Sanity

    "They didn't want to be an alcoholic," he said. "A lot of them just didn't have a choice in the matter."

    Excuse me??? Did some unknown force push the bottle to their lips?? How can they say it is not a choice??? They chose to drink and it is nobody's fault but their own.

    May 6, 2011 at 20:48 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Wilsondog

      What that comment means is, no one chooses to be an alcoholic. i agree with you, they do have a choice to drink. for some it's harder, and for others they can reach out for help if they really want to stop. but who chooses to be an alcoholic or have an addiction? who chooses to be unhappy and disgusted with themselves and their lives? the loneliest person is one who can't imagine life with or without alcohol. it's kind of like saying that people have a choice to be gay.. you never choose to live a life like that, it is not easy or fun when you're struggling with it.

      May 7, 2011 at 01:09 | Report abuse |
  11. M.

    Man, I'm glad I'm a Muslim and don't have to deal with alcohol.
    I hope these guys find their way and lead productive and upright lives. Every human being deserves that.

    May 6, 2011 at 20:51 | Report abuse | Reply
    • VinceRN

      M. it's not that you're a Muslim so you don;t have to deal with this, it's that you are not an alcoholic so you don;t have to deal with this. In twenty some years working in ERs I've seen Muslims, Mormons, Methodists, Mennonites and others that were chronic drunks despite belonging to a faith that says they can't drink. Do all religions that start with an 'M' say people shouldn't drink?

      May 6, 2011 at 21:00 | Report abuse |
    • hawaiiduude

      joos are the biggest group of alcoholics

      May 6, 2011 at 21:53 | Report abuse |
  12. JB

    "They didn't want to be an alcoholic," he said. "A lot of them just didn't have a choice in the matter ...

    That's a lie – unless someone forcibly restrained them, stuck a funnel down their throat and poured in alcoholic beverages until their bodies got hooked on it, they all, each and every single one, had a very clear choice in the matter. My father was an abusive drunk (who was still smart enough to retain a six figure per year job and his professional standing, his drinking and abuse being kept confined to behind closed doors) and because of that, I choose not to. It's a very, very clear choice and they have chosen unwisely and they are the ones who need to realize it before they can get help. I have no sympathy whatsoever to offer these types of people.

    May 6, 2011 at 20:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Norm

    ...you wanna be where you can see, your troubles are all the same... you wanna go where everybody knows your name...

    May 6, 2011 at 20:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Kevin

    Oh boo hoo, i gotta drink mouthwash because I have no willpower and self control. Get your crap together and grow a pair.

    May 6, 2011 at 20:59 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jesus

      You gonna get yours later. Compassion? God fortgot to give you any. 🙁

      May 7, 2011 at 12:52 | Report abuse |
    • Jesus

      You gonna get yours later. Compassion? God forgot to give you any. 🙁

      May 7, 2011 at 12:52 | Report abuse |
  15. michael

    Learn the English language before you make comments.....reimbursed is not profit.....you sour ass!!

    May 6, 2011 at 21:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. trying to understand

    A few things Mr. Hey, what about this? you obviosuly know very little about Catholic Charities. Catholic Charities does not only employ Catholics but actually strives to have their staff reflect the make-up of the community which each individual agency serves. As was mentioned in the artcile, the "wet house" concept actually saves taxpayer ( which all CC employees are) a good deal of money. Anyone who has worked in the addictions field knows full well how frustrating it can be to see someone make progress only to fall back on old habits or never climb out of the hellhole of addiction and inflict a great deal of pain on those around them, particularly those that care the most about them. And, as ANYONE that has worked at Catholic Charities will tell you, we (yes, I work there) do NOT do it for the money. It just isn't there. Let me make one last point – I'm defending the people and work of Catholic Charities, not the Catholic Church. The heirarchy of the Church must defend themselves, I cannot.

    May 6, 2011 at 21:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Luft


    May 6, 2011 at 21:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Mchwiteys

    Now Scope is the shizel.

    May 6, 2011 at 21:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Fiona

    I was raised by a soul-killing alcoholic. I say let them drink themselves to death, in a place where they can't hurt anyone. I don't give a ray's azz if they hurt themselves.

    Alcoholics are self-centered, self-pitying, self-indulgent and destructive people. The world doesn't need them

    May 6, 2011 at 21:35 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jesus

      You gonna get yours later. Compassion? God forgot to give you any. 🙁

      May 7, 2011 at 12:54 | Report abuse |
  20. nhoop

    One there said he wanted a job, adding ""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."

    Why isn't the AA program of recovery offered to those who want it??

    May 6, 2011 at 21:38 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Wilsondog

      but did he say he wants to be sober? if so, yay for AA (i'm in AA i love it).. but if not, all you can do is pass the message.

      May 7, 2011 at 01:11 | Report abuse |
  21. Wow

    Most people who work for non-profits such as this (trust me, nobody profits from this) aren't doing it to get paid. People do it because alcoholism has touched them in some deeply personal way, because of this they are able to open their hearts and help somebody live a somewhat dignified existence. That being said, the quote in the article, "Nobody wants to be an alcoholic, they didn't have a choice in the matter is ridiculous.... you do in fact have to choose whether or not you will take the first drink.... and the next, and the next, and the next..... and on and on.

    May 6, 2011 at 21:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. matt

    what a moron

    May 6, 2011 at 21:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. hawaiiduude

    to wet houses!! *chin-chin*

    May 6, 2011 at 21:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Sereny

    Is alcoholism a prevalently male disease? If so I think it may have something to do with the social stigma against men showing any kind of emotion. pain or tears. Maybe if men stopped trying to be so macho they would not have to constantly drown their sorrows in booze. Maybe they need to lighten up and let them selves cry, talk to people about their problems, be vulnerable. To me that is being a real man...better yet a real person.

    May 6, 2011 at 22:00 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mary

      No, there are plenty of female drunks too! Male or female are useless individuals. It comes nothing from the ability to express emotions. Listen at an AA meeting once. ALL feel that everyone else owes them something. DENIAL of their own responsibilites is something that they share. Don't be fooled into pitying them. A drunk will take everything you have and then blame you for not having more. It is never their fault.

      May 6, 2011 at 22:09 | Report abuse |
    • Mary2

      My female neighbor is an alcholic. She will do anything, I mean anything to drink. It's all about her and she will let you know this too.

      May 6, 2011 at 23:11 | Report abuse |
    • Wilsondog

      to the marys.,.. i go to AA all the time, and i do see and hear those people you speak of, i definitely agree in some respect.. but not everyone is like that. i blamed no one but myself for my drinking.i take full responsibility for my drinking. i put myself into rehab because I could not accept my alcohlism. i knew i had a problem, but i just didn't want to accept that.. i was very angry that i couldn't drink "normally". not all alcoholics are the same. and ps give them credit.. people in AA are fighting on a daily basis to not pick up a drink, and trying to better their lives and themselves. that's not easy.

      May 7, 2011 at 01:18 | Report abuse |
  25. Mary

    My ex lives in one of those here in Hawaii. Believe me in saying that he will NEVER quit drinking until it kills him. He does cost the the system thousands. But did you know that SOCIAL SECURITY will give alcoholics DISABILITY!!!! The loser gets $1200 a month!! I say that only a dead drunk is a good drunk! I am insulted by comedies like "Arthur" that protrays them as harmless funny loving people to be pitied and take care of......but they ARE NOT. If you have a drunk in your life cut them off. They are living vampires...ruining people's lives. A good percentage of domestic violence comes from drunk people. They steal , lie you name it.
    God gave us all free will...and He will put all those drunks in HELL!

    May 6, 2011 at 22:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. DM

    I have a 92 year old neighbor (retired farmer) that I care for paying $5,005.00 a month out of his pocket to sit day in and day out, in an assisted living, allowing him a room, 3 meals a day, (lots of pasta & rice) and his diaper changed & toileting service when his call light gets answered when the help feels like it, with no financial help, no medical help, all his personal necessities are bought by him, he pays $585 in supplemental health insurance a month, $800.00 in medicine, food cost varies if he wants candy etc..He prays to die and feels absolutely broken. All while he gets to age to death.

    May 6, 2011 at 22:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. electricgrendel

    Um. You realize that by your logic you should be condemning addiction recovery centers as "profit models" for people who are incapable of recovering from this addiction. There are some people who just are not able to do so. It would be great to think that every alcoholic can recover, but unfortunately it's not true. If you had read this article, you would know that all of the people in this wet house have gone through almost every treatment model multiple times with no success. This is a practical solution. It's not ideal, but ideal and practical often have nothing to do with one another.

    May 6, 2011 at 22:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. desert lou

    There seems to a lot of very critical comments about an organization trying to help people that no one else cares about. I guess there must be a lot of perfect people out there!! I say thank you to the Catholic Charities for taking on this job.

    May 6, 2011 at 22:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Nunajer Bidnis

    No mouthwash? Can't drink in yer room? In Minnfreezingesota?

    Dispose of those rules. These people are adults, you can't give them rules like children. There's no law against drinking in your room–no matter who actually owns the room, pays the rent on the room or repairs the dang room.

    There exists an entire range of 50+ adults who–for whatever reason–are no longer economically viable....and they're not about to become so. They're done. That's just the facts–America has changed.

    These people need a way to live-out their time on this Earth...or else we turn into a Logan's Run society. I don't care what lousy habits any of these people may have. The incredible vast majority of them put-in at least 20 viable years of hard work in exchange for being under-paid and unappreciated.

    And it doesn't cost $1500/month to feed and shelter them. Firstly, economies of scale make the cost less and less by the year. Secondly, the lousy food they get couldn't possibly amount to more than $250/month–tops. Thirdly, we're talkin' about the cheapest of small rooms ever possibly built to 'code'–these are worth a max of $500/unit.

    The actual cost is certainly closer to half of that stated. The religious group involved ought to be contacting the relatives of these unfortunate individuals, informing those people that the resident has been stablized, removed from being a burden and is still alive for visiting...if they could only stick a crowbar into their hearts.

    By the time a person's 50, they've earned the right to engage in their vice; to not be judged by it, to not lived restricted to that set of goodie two-shoes morals which probably helped send 'em over the edge in the first place. So they're addicted to something–so what? So they're poor–so what?

    Most of 'em reproduced and contributed viable members to this work for peanuts consumer-oriented American life. Most of 'em paid their taxes. Most of 'em tried and tried, ran into bad luck, couldn't control the economy, lost their homes, their families, their jobs, their everything they might have ever had.

    Let 'em live-out their time in peace. Let 'em committ slow suicide. But treat 'em with the respect that any dang human life deserves.

    May 6, 2011 at 22:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Stu

    You're an idiot. Learn to read.

    May 6, 2011 at 22:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Edward

    Both my parents are alcoholics. So unless you have this problem in your family it's difficult to be realistic. Do I agree with "wet house"? Its really hard to say. Do i want my father or mother, because both could and have been, on the streets. Dying alone. There's is no easy decision when it comes to your blood. You hope and pray that one day they'll come out of it on their own. Because they've tried it all. Promises to be sober are always broken. And you learn to live with that. There is no 1 answer. Hard to be critical unless you live it. You just want your family to LIVE....

    May 6, 2011 at 22:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. O2BnCLT

    $1500 / month per resident??? You better believe they are turning a profit unless these guys are living in luxury. I support a household of seven and we have it pretty nice at less than $1000 / month per person. That includes a mortgage, transportation, utilities, food, clothing, TV/phone/internet, entertainment, vacations, toys, etc... and I bet this "charity" doesn't give them much more than three hots and a cot.

    May 6, 2011 at 22:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Water

    I drank and doped for 38 years.

    I've been sober for 3 1/2 years thanks to AA.

    There is always hope!

    May 6, 2011 at 22:43 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Daddy Needs Cough Medicine

      Well good for you, but not everybody is you...or don't you yet realize that?

      Further, you've no right to deprive another of their right to simply give-up.

      I mean, pessimist quitters are people too...don't mirror them in your image.

      May 6, 2011 at 22:55 | Report abuse |
  34. Truth22

    I think this model is sickening. Its not because I don't understand the model, its because we are allowing these men and women to kill themselves with my tax dollars. Yes, allowing them to be on the streets would cost more, but to condone this behavior to me is far worst. No where in the article did the writer discuss that these facilities had workshops/programs to better these individuals. Overall the program is worthless and is design to keep a broken a person down with a fancy label "risk-reduction".

    May 6, 2011 at 22:44 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Daddy Needs Cough Medicine

      They are not YOUR tax dollars. Your tax contribution accounts for 1 / 120,000,000th. If the wet-house in your state has an amazing 67 rooms, at $1500/per that 100-thousand/month x 12 = 1.2 mil. Your share = 1 cent.

      So you begrudge your penny contribution toward solving a problem which would otherwise lead to crime, incarceration, or homelessness and death? You know the incarceration would cost you 3 cents? And homelessness is just plain unsightly.

      Listen Tin Man, ask the Wizard for a heart.

      May 6, 2011 at 23:03 | Report abuse |
  35. don quixote

    I am an alcoholic........I see all the posts from the angry people whom alcoholics have screwed over and I can only offer my most abject apologies...........I expect none of you to believe me when I tell you that while-yes, I chose to drink-I absolutely want to be that better person I always thought I'd turn out to be......my reality is couldn't be more distant from that.........that's my doing....noone else's, that being said I also don't expect any sympathy or understanding from the people who only seem to be interested in venting their anger and impotence on a the handiest target around (especially if that target happens to be a disenfranchised human being that has been thrown away and given up by society), and lastly I am happy to know that somebody out there is looking after people like myself, thank you for the little that you do to bring dignity to those people's lives.

    May 7, 2011 at 00:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Talea

    Addicts are simply people that can't cope with reality. I really hope for the best for these people.

    May 7, 2011 at 01:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. floyd

    All Right!! When are they gonna give out Beer Stamps! I've been on food stamps and unemployment for 9 months looking for a freaking job.... a 12 pack a week would really take the edge off!! I'll bet they have Beer Stamps in Denmark and Sweden...

    May 7, 2011 at 03:36 | Report abuse | Reply
    • pmaria

      You're welcome. Supporting you is one of the reasons I pay taxes....Great! I have a cousin who came out of prison and works two jobs and has her own place within four months of getting out. She pays for your 9-month unemployment vacation aswell. Congrats and thanks!

      May 9, 2011 at 06:47 | Report abuse |
    • tammie

      PMARIA you are an idiot. UNEMPLOYMENT WAS PAID FOR BY THE PERSON WHO IS LAID OFF. We are NOT on welfare, get it straight. WE PAID INTO UNEMPLOYMENT and DESERVE EVERY PENNY WE GET UNTIL WE FIND SUITABLE WORK TO SUPPORT OUR FAMILIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Let me say it once more: WE PAID INTO UNEMPLOYMENT just like we PAY INTO WELFARE, the difference is, we are NOT on welfare although we very well could be as we certainly paid for enough people to be on it, after all, who do you think supported your felon relative while he was in prison????

      May 9, 2011 at 08:16 | Report abuse |
    • Squidgely

      Tammie, I'm not sure what state you live in but in Illinois the employer pays the unemployment insurance both state and federal. NOT the employee. It does NOT come out of your check it is a payroll expense of the EMPLOYER not EMPLOYEE.

      May 9, 2011 at 15:53 | Report abuse |
    • Linda

      Unbelievable! They can't help it? I think I've just heard about everything now.

      May 9, 2011 at 21:10 | Report abuse |
    • Thomas


      Don't you wish you had done the tiniest amount of research before spouting off like that. Boy you must be embarrassed and rightly so.

      It is so amusing when people like you call other people idiots.

      May 10, 2011 at 12:33 | Report abuse |
    • Joe Balls

      I think you mean a 12 pack a day, not a week silly 😉 You ought to get a job though. Why should I have to pay your way for you? And don't blame it on the drink. I whack down a 12 pack every night during the week, a case a day on weekends, yet I am never late for my job. So, yes, it can be done. Good luck.

      May 30, 2011 at 02:12 | Report abuse |
  38. SAM

    All over the world,day in day out,on Crusies,Airplanes,theme parks,sports events,JUT NO SMOKING ALLOWED..Now you take about a BACKWARDS COUNTRY ????????????? your in it

    May 7, 2011 at 05:35 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Joe

      I couldn't care less if smoking was banned everywhere..that stuff kills is a waste of money and make you stink. Oh and it also gives you lung cancer.

      May 7, 2011 at 12:48 | Report abuse |
  39. JulietSierra

    This is the dumbest thing I've seen in a loooooong time. This country is so f- backwards!!

    May 7, 2011 at 11:00 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jessica

      I so agree.

      May 7, 2011 at 13:07 | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      brb suicide

      May 7, 2011 at 15:01 | Report abuse |
    • PentecostalTexan

      You people commenting on this person to shoot themselves is wrong. something like that should not be talked about lightly. suppose they did? do you realize you would stand before God one day with blood on your hands? and about America being backwards, America has invited God to be left out of its government and America is headed for inevitable destruction, when a nation turns its back on God never to repent again, there is no way out.

      May 7, 2011 at 23:26 | Report abuse |
    • fact

      well pentecostal we may as well just drink ourselves silly then

      May 9, 2011 at 12:55 | Report abuse |
  40. mark

    Has anyone noticed that alcohol and tobacco are two (still legal) drugs? That they cause pain, suffering and death? And that the liquor and tobacco lobbies are doing their best to promote them?

    May 7, 2011 at 13:26 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Brianebre

      And what about when the livers of these fools give out? Will they just be put on the transplant list? Taking a healthy liver from a sick child or other transplant recipient?

      May 7, 2011 at 16:50 | Report abuse |
    • GeoCentric

      Easy... Alcohol and Tobacco bring in HUGE amounts of Tax dollars, that's why it's tolerated. But try to extract a drug to help cancer patients and real, chronic pain patients and it's "that terrible, evil reefer". Normal Government hypocrisy at work... as long as they think there is a buck in it for them.

      May 7, 2011 at 21:19 | Report abuse |
    • Allison

      if your need results from alcoholism, no you are not eligible to receive a dontated organ

      May 8, 2011 at 10:50 | Report abuse |
    • Susan

      Unless you are Larry Hagman...

      May 9, 2011 at 11:25 | Report abuse |
  41. Morey Soffo

    It's about time. It costs too much to save those who do not want saving. I've long theorized it would be chaper to take alcoholics and addicts, warehouse them in old barracks of decommissioned military bases, give them as much as they want of whatever it is, and let them ingest, inject, or inhale themselves to death, but allowing them pallitive care. Hopefully, the next step will be requiring those who want welfare to get their tubes (vaso-or-fallopian) tied so they stop breeding on the public penny. Now that they have gotten the drunks off the street, what can the Church do to keep the priests from diddling the kiddies? Oh, wait: I see the plan now – lure hot, homeless hoboes in with Manischevitz, wait until they pass out, dress them up as acolytes, and then . . . .

    May 7, 2011 at 16:27 | Report abuse | Reply
    • 5 RINGS

      I SOOO AGREE WITH YOU!!! Let them drink themselves to death...the sooner for them, the better for the rest of us. For Christ's sake – HE'S DRINKING MOUTHWASH – he's already dead, he just doesn't know it yet!

      May 7, 2011 at 20:02 | Report abuse |
    • Allison

      I agree, this truly is cheaper, and they are supervised enough to not harm innocent members of society. Plus the facility isn't providing them alcohol and they have to go outside to drink. I think instead of backwards thinking this may be the most forward thinking program yet.

      May 8, 2011 at 10:52 | Report abuse |
    • Get a clue!

      I so agree with you! People that just post to post, really are talking out of their a..holes. They do not have any education or knowledge of what is really going on. They are the ones that want to change the world people...however, do not a darn thing about it! If any of these people have had, or experience, with an addictic or addiction..they would so know what you mean by this! They really need to get and have a clue. I suggest they go and volunteer their time in a place like this. I fully think, and know, they will change their point of view and not comment out their as*!!!! Put some knowledge into yourself!

      May 10, 2011 at 22:59 | Report abuse |
  42. Timothy

    Dude is drinking mouthwash in the pic.

    May 7, 2011 at 19:05 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Get a clue!

      Yes it is! Did you not read the article or look at the pics? Weird????

      May 10, 2011 at 22:55 | Report abuse |
  43. Tango

    @Brianebre – Simply put ... they will die. Alcoholics are ineligible for liver transplants.

    May 7, 2011 at 21:30 | Report abuse | Reply
    • HollyinOKC

      What about Micky Mantle??

      May 9, 2011 at 14:22 | Report abuse |
  44. Kristan

    Alcoholism is most certainly a fatal disease... Some recover and some Can Not. My Dad died last year from liver failure due to chronic alcoholism... Unless you have ever been close to a situation like this, you can not possibly know the hardships placed on family, friends and the alcoholic themselves. It's very hard for me to read some of these posts because I know that this disease and it's costs go much deeper than what the average person on the outside sees. It's a terrible way to die and it's horrifying to watch from a loved ones point of view. I wish my Dad had that "something" that it takes to beat this disease but, he didn't... There are a lot of people in that same situation and regardless of thier illness and how some of you might perceive it, they do deserve dignity in the last months, years or days of thier lives... I truly believe that this is a good program for those who have very little left in life to hold on to... They may just find a little bit of peace in the end.

    May 7, 2011 at 23:16 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Danny Hull

      Well said Kristan

      May 8, 2011 at 10:33 | Report abuse |
    • Kariann

      Kristan...you left me speechless. The sharing of your thoughts and experience are greatly appreciated . It is a shame and a disgrace the judgement that is passed by the ignorant.

      May 8, 2011 at 15:23 | Report abuse |
    • Janet

      I just have to say that I have been sober for 1 year and 7 months. I did this by myself. I have no children and I'm not married. My mother is a functioning alcoholic and she has made her life and mine miserable. This is something hard to deal with, but this is NOT a disease. Every person on this earth has their vice. If you really WANT to change your life you will. A dependency to ANYTHING stems from something. If you don't want to change your life go ahead and live in a "wet" house and let yourself rot. I'm sorry for anyone who loses someone to any kind of substance abuse, but I fully believe that anyone can change. It saddens me that your father could not see what he was doing to his family.

      May 8, 2011 at 19:48 | Report abuse |
    • Doreen Krolik

      I am working with a alcolholic, I just don't know how to help her

      May 8, 2011 at 20:24 | Report abuse |
    • RedBird

      I lost my dad to liver failure 20 years ago and it still hurts. He was a strong man in every other way...actually a brilliant man and a good father that taught me so many things, and loved me about as unconditionally as I ever expect to be loved. One isn't worthless when they have given a daughter love,confidence, knowledge and their loss is still mourned to the point of fresh tears 20 years after they have left this earth. You are so right; you have to have lived it to know they are often good people in the grips of a fatal disease.

      May 9, 2011 at 03:20 | Report abuse |
    • Linda

      I understand what you are saying, my mother, grandmother and best friend's father all alcoholics. My 39 year old sistern in law died from it. It is hard on the family and ruins lives. But I still don't believe it is the responsibility of everyone else in the world to take care of them. It seems all of our tax money is going to support everyone's problems and leaving those working stressed and burned out by having to work harder. If we were just helping a few people I wouldn't be so rude about this, but at some point we just can't do it all.

      May 9, 2011 at 21:15 | Report abuse |
  45. Kathy J

    CNN producers must listen to This American Life for story ideas. Ira Glass already put our a great piece about this place.

    May 8, 2011 at 07:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Paul

    This is not a fair and balanced story on harm reduction models. Sanjay Gupta and CNN should have requested information and vetted this story with subject matter experts before publishing this very biased piece. Harm reduction models have a very important role to play in the continuum of services for alcoholics and homeless.

    May 8, 2011 at 08:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. you have to be kidding me

    First: The Catholic church operates in discord with the book that they say is their guide. Brings their credibility in play.

    Second: Each individual has to figure when they have hit bottom, all by themselves. This setup seems to allow for that the best I've ever heard of.

    May 8, 2011 at 09:57 | Report abuse | Reply
    • jefe

      How do you figure the Catholic Church is operating in discord with the Bible on this one?

      May 9, 2011 at 08:24 | Report abuse |
  48. Teresa, snOhio

    riddle me this: if Alcoholism can be GENETIC, how is it this guy held down a job for 20 yrs without boozing away his life? so, he was in his 40s before his Predisposition to Alcohol HIT HIM? Of all addictions in this world that ticks me off, its alcoholism... its so damn easy to sit back and say: "i caint helped it. i'm a drunk". I have 0 tolerance for an alkie.

    May 8, 2011 at 14:05 | Report abuse | Reply
    • myesh

      Teresa, alcoholism is a progressive disease. It's likely Marion was able to maintain his life as a functional alcoholic until he was in his forties...then his disease overtook him completely.

      Before AA when a person was an alcoholic, they simply drank themselves to death with no hope. There was no sobriety or chance they could recovery at all. Now that 50% of people who suffer alcoholism recover with the help of 12 Step Programs, it's a big improvement from 100 years ago when there was nothing to be done.

      It looks like there are some people who have issues & are blaming the program for their own lack of recovery. It doesn't work like that. The individual has to want to stop drinking/drugging/gambling/whatever the problem happens to be. Everyone's responsible for their own recovery. Period.

      May 8, 2011 at 16:44 | Report abuse |
    • carolyn

      I am a functioning alcohlic,and have been for over 40yrs.I am a 67yr old female.I drink a six pack of 16oz.cans of beer everyday.I get off work at 2:15 p:m and have my first beer at 3:p:m......have super on table for husband at 6:00 p:m:......get in bed at 8:30 p:m.......so I can get up at 4:45 a:m to be at my 5:45 a:m job. I am 5ft.3 in.tall and weight 105 lb. I have never been late or missed a day of work.There are a lot of us out here.

      May 8, 2011 at 19:12 | Report abuse |
    • Linda

      My mother and grandmother are/were alcoholics. I am not an alcoholic. It's still a choice to get to the point that your body needs that alcohol.

      May 9, 2011 at 21:18 | Report abuse |
  49. myesh

    'Yap yap yap, my tax dollars yap yap yap.' It's not all about you and your precious nickel. You don't get to control things. There's such a thing as the greater good and you aren't smart enough to figure out what that is, considering the low caliber of your comments here. Give it up, selfish and self-centered people.

    Whether you like it or not, you don't get to control where your every single tax penny goes, and that's a good thing. You're not bright enough to make the connection between a lack of funding for Planned Parenthood, the birth rate and hungry children who will need welfare and tax dollars to help them grow up.

    Want to prevent abortions? Fund Planned Parenthood. If you're in favour of preventing abortions and the birth rate increases because women can't get birth control, be aware food stamp and welfare costs will increase. See? There's a connection in the real world where the rest of us live.

    May 8, 2011 at 16:35 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Linda

      such a liberal bunchh of absolute crap that doesn't even deserve an intelligent response.

      May 9, 2011 at 21:19 | Report abuse |
  50. linda

    Yes, you can, to those who think that you can't get a liver when you are an alcoholic. People with cirhossis of the liver do get livers and it is public knowledge; just a few years ago, a famous person associated with baseball and a known alocoholic got a liver from the national transplant list. They are not denied if they can prove that they have given up the alcohol and so a person with a disease beyond control dies while someone with a disease that can be controlled or even prevented does get a liver transplant.

    May 8, 2011 at 22:15 | Report abuse | Reply
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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.