2017-03-16 / Opinion

Sex, drugs and alcohol

Mary Henkel Judson

If you read the Police Blotter in these pages on a regular basis, and especially following Spring Break, you’ll notice an abundance of alcohol- and drug-related offenses for which our first responders are called upon. Sometimes there is a humorous angle to these incidents, such as during a recent sobriety test conducted by our local police, the man in question kept saying, “I’m drunk. I’m drunk.” Busted!

That’s funny.

We try to have a little fun with the Police Blotter, but (probably ad nauseum) I caution our reporters putting it together that addiction is not funny, and we draw the line between making fun of someone unduly under the influence and a situation that is, in fact, funny.

I grew up with an alcoholic father who was a “binge drinker.” Great guy. He was an intelligent, successful newspaper editor and publisher. He was a character in terms of personality and appearance. He was a skinnier and more dignified version of Thurston Howell III of Gilligan’s Island fame: Greek sailor’s cap, silver-streaked Van Dyke beard and mustache, pipe, ascot, blue blazer, crisp white trousers.

Demons haunted him. To this day I do not know what they were. I know he served as a captain in the Merchant Marine during World War II, supplying our soldiers abroad, and survived the sinking of a ship that was shot out from under him by the Japanese. I know his only sibling, a brother, was lost at sea during World War II. My mother told me her mother-in-law was impatient and likely didn’t appreciate the awkward efforts of a little boy to please his mother. It doesn’t matter. What I do know is that, periodically, we lost my father to “the bottle.”

Those memories -- the earliest of which was from a time when I was about 5 years old -- haunt me. I’m 64, and still am awakened by horrible dreams of what I witnessed, which I won’t recount. So, given my genetic disposition, I live in fear of giving in to “the bottle.”

For most of my life, addiction has been viewed as a character flaw. Only in recent years have alcoholism and drug addiction been recognized by medical professionals, and perhaps by some of the rest of us, as an illness. Only in the past six years have I learned about Alcoholics Anonymous.

Of course, I knew about AA. Back when we were simply readers of the South Jetty, I noticed the classified ads about AA meetings. Every day! “Man,” there must be a bunch of drunks in that town,” I thought. Little did I know. Very little.

Sex? I’ll get to that.

It was not until someone close to me became involved in the program did I begin to understand AA – if, in fact, I do.

I’ve attended some AA meetings with my friend, most of them women’s meetings, one of them an Al-Anon meeting – for those who aren’t alcoholics but who live with or are impacted by an alcoholic. By the way, AA also has a branch called Ala- Teen, for kids affected by alcoholic family members.

At one meeting, my friend told her story, and as close as I am to her, I learned things I’d never known.

Friends, I’m here to tell you, we all could use AA. The “12 Steps,” as they are called, are guides to life skills beneficial to every one of us, whether or not we are addicted to drugs or alcohol.

My close friend in AA could not have survived the curve balls life has thrown her without the coping skills or the strength and support AA has given her. She’s not religious, but she’s become aware there is a “higher power.” (Her daughter has told her, “Oh come on Mom, it’s God. Say it.”)

What I want you to know is there is no shame in being an addict, whether your drug of choice is alcohol or cocaine or any other mood-altering substance. Addiction does not discriminate between class, income, education, career, gender, race or religion. The AA roster is an all-inclusive A-list.

To beat addiction, to get your life on track, to get physically and mentally healthy, you need help and support, and both are available, right here in Port Aransas -- without judgment – if you want it. These people are your peers, perhaps not in terms of your bank balance or social standing, but in terms of what really matters. They’re rich, they’re poor, they’re well-known and unknown and they all have one thing in common: addiction and the desire to overcome it.

There is no shame in addiction, but there is hope, and the real possibility, that it can be overcome.

Sex? I’ll get to that.

On Page 2A in the Island Agenda, you’ll find listings of AA meetings in Port Aransas. If you’re not comfortable going to a meeting here, there are meetings in surrounding communities. Check the newspapers in those communities, Google them or call or email me and I’ll help you find a meeting. Even if you’re on vacation, you can go to an AA meeting just about anywhere in the world. If you’re on a cruise and see a sign that says something like, “Friends of Bill Wilson meet at 7 p.m., Palmer Room,” that’s an AA meeting. Might be a good way to start if you’re really concerned about anonymity. Bill Wilson, by the way, founded AA in 1935.

Now about sex. Would you have read this if the headline had been “Sober up?”

Mary Henkel Judson is editor and co-publisher of the South Jetty. Contact her at editor@portasouthjetty.com, (361) 749-5131 or P.O. Box 1117, Port Aransas, TX 78373.

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