Check out what the The New York Times has to say about our sober living home in Williamsburg, Brooklyn: Seeking Sobriety in Brooklyn.
Interventions are as unique as human fingerprints. Here’s my view.
Some cool coverage for the new website. Addiction and Recovery, straight up! NY Times Article
What’s wrong with this story? Homeless guy gets sudden fame, cleans up his act, his mother goes on TV to proclaim her “prayers have been answered”. There is nothing wrong with this, everyone loves a second chance, a redemption, a transformation and it could be that’s what we are seeing. Maybe not. Williams is a self disclosed addict, to me, without knowing the man he looks like he smokes crack. There is a very distinct look that crack smokers have, and he has it. He says he has been clean for two years. Maybe. Hate to be the cynic but…a crack smoker with inaccurate reporting (lies), just wouldn’t be that weird. I am all for addicts getting a second chance and fair treatment in alignment with other chronic recurring diseases, so I am happy the guy caught a break. I guess what is wrong with this is that, if he makes some money, he is VERY vulnerable. Addicts can’t tolerate currency, crack addicts more so. It is likely he will burn this chance, pure intentions and all, the addiction, left unmonitored will win. It will beat him, beat the The Cleveland Cavs, and put more “how could he?” stories into the media. Is there a solution? You bet there is. A plan, a recovery plan, complete with expectations, mental health treatment, accountability, verification, a system of fund disbursement that gives him no more that 20 dollars at a time without a process and a good reason to get more. The solution is being honest about what he can realistically handle right now, grow what he is able to self regulate, expect set backs and imperfections and get rid of the idea that the treatment for an addict is a job and his mother crying on TV. While somewhat heartwarming to give a guy a break, I don’t think the NBA will handle this well. It could be a great underdog made good story but I kind of doubt it. Maybe he can be on the next round of “celebrity rehab”. I wish the GM of the Cleveland Cabs would call me, I’ll help them out with this, so in the unlikely event they read my blog, nobody but my mom and her bridge group does, call me, let’s make this a big win for addicts everywhere.
I just can’t shake my fascination with the stuff. I think it’s because 20 years ago I would have been on the phone to the ACLU at the suggestion of banning it, not to mention I would have drunk more than my share of the stuff, vomited whatever McDonald’s food I had just eaten and looked for more. I think the fascination is also because thinking about this isn’t really an exercise in aversion therapy, it’s more of a youthful longing. What fun! Sounds crazy, I guess, unless you’re an alcoholic and loved those “killer parties that almost killed me” ( that’s Crag Finns’ description).
Working on another project I pitched the idea of a video blog to the editor where I would camp out at a Bodega near NYU and interview NYU students who bought Four Loko. His response was priceless, “NYU students drink Four Loko? It sounds like a more “uptown beverage” and no, he didn’t mean that Columbia students like it. For those of you who don’t speak northeast liberal, and for those of you who can’t accept that we all have racist aspects of ourselves, what he meant to say was “malt liquor with grape kool-aid? Aint that for black people?”
Act II, in which, the race card comes into the Four Loko debate.
As I have said before, one of the things that bothers me the most about the alcohol and other drug policy in America is that black people pay a much higher price for the same behavior as white people. It seems that there has been some measure of success in banning Four Loko, enough that it got the attention of the FDA and whatever white people public official who jumped on the “demonize the stuff bandwagon” have forced the producers of this stuff to change their formula. I guess we can all sleep better knowing that the youth of America is safe from Four Loko, except that they will brew something else so I’m not sure what really has been accomplished. How is this racist? The vast majority of those people protected from Four Loko are college students at State run Universities, largely middle class and largely white, ok maybe exclusively white. In sheer numbers, relatively few of them and yet, this has been a media project, topic of discussion, enough to foster change, merits of the change debate-able. Where is the public outcry and attention on Old English 800, cheaply sold in ghetto (black) communities? Any studies on the damage done by that shit? How about how many kids have been hospitalized after drinking it? How is it that Old English 800 gets a free pass regarding the damage it does and Four Loko is depicted as semen of Satan in a can? It’s simple. White kids drink Four Loko and go to college and need protection. Black kids drink OE, are likely headed to prison and marginalized. What’s even more annoying is nobody seems to be talking about this; not even Spike Lee or Reverend Al? Are we so accepting of the alcohol policy that we don’t even talk about it?
These kids, what will they think of next? In my day we made “jungle juice” a no recipe concoction which was basically, punch of some kind and whatever booze could be found to be dumped in it. Vodka and kool aid? Yum!! Tequila and Hawaiian punch. The result? Technicolor vomit in teenage wasteland. I have never actually had one but given the number of young people I see with drug and alcohol issues, I have heard all about the “red bull and vodka” mix, I guess every generation thinks they invented something and this is generation Y’s (is that what they are called?) gift to us all. I think there was even an episode on happy days when they “spiked the punch”. In a way, this all looks like some kind of Chevy commercial and for some, it may be wholesome teenage rites of passage. So whats all the media attention about “Four Loko” which as near as I can tell, is packaged jungle juice made with an energy drink. I guess, its kool aid flavored malt liquor with caffeine, in otherwords, its puke in a can but it sure does help that prom dress come right off. Combing the internet for stories about this stuff, you would think it was bottled by Satanist and sold on playgrounds. Whats so new about this? Why now? kids have been getting drunk and sick since way back, why single out this beverage and what is wrong with doing that?
I am not sure why “Four Loko” is the new boogie man, there have been some reports of hospitalizations from alcohol poisoning but this is not new as a result of bottling this stuff. One of the common themes with the stories written about it is that it contains caffeine. So does rum and coke, so do many other cocktails.
What I think is Four Loko is a cheap high, marketed to kids that is detrimental to their health and safety but I certainly don’t think banning it is the answer. Banning it sends a message that the people who makes this stuff are responsible for the behaviors associated with it. Where is the personal responsibility? How about the community? As I often say, we all have a responsibility to the drug and alcohol problem, assigning blame to one faction of the larger problem does very little if anything to address the problem in a real way.
Even if I were still able to drink, I doubt I would be drinking four loko, it sounds vile, although I did wonder if it could be consecrated into the blood of christ, you, know just to add a little spice to mass. As a side note, I looked at their website and they have a page of all the philanthropy they do, they give to cancer, a worthy cause but how about giving to Hazelden youth and family for some four loko enthusiasts who end up in alcoholism treatment? I’m kind of fascinated with the stuff, thinking of doing a video blog and asking kids who buy it what it’s like, maybe I’ll camp out in the parking lot of a high school dance and interview consumers of four loko, I’ll be sure to wear rain boots so I can hose the puke off of me. Kids! When will they learn?