The Alcoholic Playbook: Using Elements of the Truth

by The Discovering Alcoholic on August 8, 2009

Diane Schuler: Using Elements of the Truth at The Discovering AlcoholicThere is an awful lot of unnecessary conjecture going on about how seemingly normal Diane Schuler became both stoned and drunk before killing herself and seven other people in a head on collision by driving into oncoming traffic. I have read everything from conspiracy theories that her drink was spiked (I guess her cigarettes too?) to the family’s denial that the crash could have been caused by her diabetes. It has been my experience though that most people who get that drunk, that quick, have had plenty of practice.

So how did she keep this substance abuse from her family? The answer can be found in The Alcoholic Playbook; she used elements of the truth to cover for otherwise suspicious behavior and to misdirect unwanted attention. Alcoholics are rumored to have an almost uncanny ability to hide their drinking, but the truth of the matter is that they can rarely pass direct scrutiny so they make sure other obvious issues remain front and center as distractions. I would say that at least at the time of her death, she was using health issues as a means of misdirection and even enablement.

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Diane Schuler was once diagnosed with gestational diabetes — which usually goes away after childbirth — had an undiagnosed lump on her leg and was suffering from an abscessed tooth for nearly two months. It was not clear how any of those maladies would prompt someone to become intoxicated. ~ AP

Diabetes almost always flares up for those that suffer when they drink, the liver treats alcohol as a toxin which it will process as a priority – thus not producing the glucose necessary for normal blood sugar. This is not a chicken or the egg issue, alcohol is the problem. An undiagnosed lump and an untreated abscessed tooth might seem plausible maladies for an unstable homeless person, but those with the means go to the doctor for an abscessed tooth- not the campgrounds! My guess is she was using both as an excuse to cover drug use and erratic behavior.

This little tidbit came out today.

Diane was so frugal that she packed the same bottle of Absolut in a bag meant for trips between the family’s home in Suffolk County, on Long Island, and the camper in the Sullivan County campground they had frequented for the past three years. He said a single bottle could last a year for the Schulers.NY Times

This is one of those stories that only a loved one can believe. Anyone including myself that has ever had a loved one suffering from alcoholism can attest to the fact that we try very hard to believe even the flimsiest of stories. If she drank so rarely, and a bottle would last for over a year, why did she always make sure to pack it? My guess is that it was the same bottle of Absolut, that much is true, but it was probably filled up routinely from a much cheaper plastic half gallon bottle of off brand vodka.

Like I said, family and friends always want to believe the best about their loved ones and are usually rather easily fooled. An alcoholic usually has a much harder time facing direct scrutiny from strangers or authority figures- and unfortunately in Schuler’s case… medical examiners. The truth almost always comes out in the autopsy; I just wish seven others didn’t have to go on the slab to get to it.

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