Safe Houses for Street Alcoholics
Tony Beam Dr. Tony Beam's Weblog
- 2006 Jan 02
Once you get past all the cool images of hip young people enjoying life to the fullest aided by their alcoholic beverage of choice you see the very real tragedy alcohol brings to our culture. Every year, tens of thousands of new alcoholics join the ranks of those who are aleady destroying their lives and the lives of everyone who loves them. Every year, domestic violence cases creep up as more people under the influence of alcohol turn to violance toward their significant other. Every year, tens of thousands of people die on the nations highways because someone gets behind the wheel of a car while intoxicated.
There can be no doubt that alcohol is a killer. And what have we as a society decided to do about this deadly, chronic problem? We perform the equvilant of putting bandaids on a gushing severed artery by raising the legal age of drinking or adding another six months to the current maximum sentances for repeat drunk drivers. While the cigarette companies take all the heat for being the bearers of ill health to millions the companies that make alcoholic beverages get a free pass. Don't get me wrong....cigarette smoking is responsible for sending both my mother and my sister to early graves so there is no love loss with me for the cigarette companies but it amazes me that so many people are willing to comdem smoking while turning a blind eye to the destructive nature of alcohol. I dare say many more people have died as a result of drunk drivers than have died because of second hand smoke. Smoking may shorten the life of the pack a day smoker but it doesn't destroy the lives of everyone within shouting distance.
And now we have a brand new approach to dealing with people who are alcoholics and are living on the street. The postmodern solution some folks in Seattle have some up with is to build them a nice, clean environment to live in and to provide their meals and basic necessities while they attend treatment programs. It sounds like a great idea until you discover there will be no ban on drinking in the apartment building. That's right....while these people who have destroyed their lives with alcohol are participating in treatment programs that are supposed to help them stop drinking they will be allowed to drink when they get home from the treatment program. And they won't have to worry about the circumstances they have created for themselves by becoming alcoholics because all their daily needs will be provided by the city.
This only makes sense in a world that has rejected all common sense. Obviously, people who are living on the street need help. They need to have their basic needs provided for if they are willing to stop the destructive behavior that put them on the street in the first place. But providing them a safe and warm place to drink while encouraging them to attend an alcohol rehab program makes about as much sense as telling teenagers to abstain from sex until marriage while handing them a condom. On the one hand, we are telling them to change their behavior because they have a behavior problem and on the other hand we are enabling the behavior we have instructed them to change.