In a plain brick building on a tree-lined street in Albany, NY, a 67-year-old man brought to his knees from a lifetime struggle with alcohol addiction fills out a survey. Across town, on the bucolic campus of a residential treatment center for troubled teenage boys, a counselor asks a 13-year-old the same questions.
- Did a parent often swear at you, insult you, put you down or humiliate you?
- Did you see your mother being hit, pushed, slapped or kicked?
- Did you live with anyone who was a problem drinker or alcoholic, or who used street drugs?
What’s the point of dredging up bad memories with these and seven other questions? Believe it or not, there’s a long-term payoff for the man, the boy and the city and county of Albany.
Strangely enough, it has to do with the short-term, beneficial effects of the drugs they’re using. Nicotine reduces anger, increases focus and relieves depression. Alcohol relieves stress.
The 67-year-old learns that, all things considered, using alcohol was a reasonable coping strategy for