Not an Alcoholic, just Stupid

by The Discovering Alcoholic on May 23, 2008

I long ago lost any sensitivity about being an alcoholic or speaking to others of my disease, but this is far from common as this and substance abuse are usually deeply hidden by families “in the closet”.

About the only time I am personally reminded of the stigma that some associate with addictions is if I embarrass my wife by bringing up the subject in what she considers an inappropriate environment. Sorry honey. It’s kind of hard not to let the A word slip in mixed company every now and then considering my daily updates of The Discovering Alcoholic.

This week however, I was reminded once again of how the rest of the world still views those who have a “problem” with alcohol.

ATLANTA — Alcohol was a factor in the death of a 25-year-old man who fell down a stairwell at Turner Field during the game between the Atlanta Braves and New York Mets. Justin Hayes of Cumming, Ga., suffered head injuries Wednesday night and was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital. He fell about 150 feet from the club level to the landing on the field level during the eighth inning. ~ Fox News

Actually it wasn’t this story; instead it was the response of the poor boy’s parents to the alcohol-related portion of this story that caught my attention.

Click “Read more” to continue…

I would like to make two statements very clear before my commentary. The death of this young man is a tragedy regardless of the circumstances and by no means am I trying to say that he was an alcoholic or had an addiction. With that being said it was this press release made by the parents that was a potent reminder that even though alcoholism and substance abuse are a common occurrence in families, it is still something that is considered unmentionable.

Campbell said on Wednesday night that police believed Hayes had been drinking before the accident, but family and coworkers disputed that it had figured into his death. ~ AJC.com

That’s right, they have just lost their son to a tragic accident and it seems that they are more worried that people will notice that alcohol was a contributing factor in his death. Even his friends get in on the act:

Hayes’ co-worker and longtime friend Sean McLendon said he wasn’t the type to drink excessively. “He never had a problem with alcohol,” McLendon said. “He lost his balance.” AJC.com

As if you had to be an alcoholic to get drunk and act a fool in the first place, not to mention that we all know that drinking almost always improves your balance!

The guy was acting the idiot sliding down a railing that had a 120 foot drop on one side. The family wants to say he was just having fun and his friends want to say he was stone cold sober in order to deflect any accusations that he may have had other problems. It seems they would prefer the general public to think of him as just stupid rather than face the stigma than his death being alcohol related.

I notice this type of behavior more often in the South although I am fairly sure it is not restricted to our region. Uncles sometimes just disappear. Teenagers mysteriously get pulled out of the middle of a school year for a vacation or missionary trip. Someone’s father will go to work in South America for anywhere from 30 to 90 days. Jail, rehab, and just the plain insanity of addiction and substance affects almost every family in the nation at some time, yet society in general pretends “but, it doesn’t happen here or to us.”

Like I said, I feel very sorry for the family of this young man and care little whether he was a raging alky or sober as a judge, it is their response to the reports which are the target of my commentary. We will always be fighting a losing battle with alcoholism and substance abuse if as a society we continue to deny we have a problem.

News report video click here.

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