Danger to Himself and Others at 3X Legal Limit
Photo by Eric Mclean on Unsplash https://unsplash.com/photos/V79loOjFOLA
When I got sober, I needed to come to terms with a lot of my bad behavior from my drinking days.
It was pointed out to me that I was a sick person getting well, not a bad person getting good. Since I was coping with terribly low self-esteem, I needed to begin to build up feelings of self-worth.
Taking responsibility for things I’d done while understanding that I was driven by an illness can be a fine line to navigate. Learning to draw the line between what I’d done as a drunk and the person I was becoming was essential to my recovery.
While, yes, I have an illness - Alcohol Use Disorder, or alcoholism - I need to take responsibility for things I’d done while under the influence.
Understanding this was a huge part of it: taking responsibility means that one not only accepts consequences but amends behavior. Apologies are useless unless they’re backed up.
When I was drinking/drugging, I mouthed the words “I’m sorry” all the time. It was more a way to get out of something than it was a real apology.
OK. I’ve learned to forgive myself, for the most part, while not letting myself off the hook, for the most part. Nobody does recovery perfectly.
Taking responsibility and making changes to my behavior has been key to building a life of long-term sobriety.
All of that said, I’m a person in society. I read the news, and I have opinions on what I read.
So - what to make of this recent news?
The other night, big-time college basketball coach Bob Huggins was arrested for DUI. He’s the coach of West Virginia University, a plum job for him as WVU is in his hometown.
He’s 69 years old and has been coaching for decades. He’s been a winning coach everywhere he’s worked. He was under contract for $4.15 million per year. That is some serious dough, and it’s a high-profile job.
When I say he was under contract for $4.15 million, the emphasis is on was. That was before he referred to fans of a rival school by a homophobic slur while being interviewed on the radio in Cincinnati, where he’d coached for 16 years. He also made derogatory comments about Catholics.
Afterward, he said the things he needed to say, whether he meant them or not. He kept his job. However, as a consequence, his contract was reworked and downgraded to $3.15 million.
That was in May.
Now, in June, he’s been arrested. His S.U.V. was blocking traffic, and when the police arrived the car door was open and one of the vehicle’s tires was flat. He had difficulty getting the car out of the road.
Two bags full of empty beer cans were found in the car.
Asked where he was, he replied that he was in Columbus. This happened in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Wrong city, pal. Wrong state.
His breathalyzer test was close to 3X the legal limit.
The official term for this level of intoxication is: “Completely Fucked Up.”
The guy sounds like a real asshole to me.
But here’s where it gets complicated.
Who am I, a former regularly intoxicated driver, to judge this current intoxicated driver?
It’s only grace that has allowed me to change.
I hate what he’s done.
I hate the homophobia that he espoused, especially in our current toxic environment.
I hate the fact that he was so drunk he didn’t even know where the hell he was, yet was operating an S.U.V.
Too many people get hit and killed and maimed and otherwise damaged and traumatized by intoxicated drivers.
And to be a bigot on top of it? Easy guy to vilify.
He claimed to “take responsibility” after the radio interview. In this case, I don’t know that that has any meaning. It seems to be one of those terms that P.R. people coach celebrities to say when they’re in trouble.
But this is the rub: taking responsibility means that one not only accepts consequences but amends behavior.
So, I can hate what the man has done, but personally, it’s wrong for me to judge him. I have the same illness that he has, alcoholism. It’s my great good fortune that I’m on the sober side of the bridge so that I don’t drive drunk any longer, and I’ve learned to look at prejudicial feelings I may have, and I’ve done my best to root them out and grow and change. Pouring alcohol on those types of hateful feelings only strengthens them.
Alcoholism, if that’s what he’s got (and it was his second arrest for DUI. He pleaded No Contest to the first offense), is a beast.
It’s hard to have compassion for people who stink and are loud and belligerent and aggressive, and who DRIVE vehicles while blotto.
This is a screenshot of the Pittsburgh Police Department blotter regarding the arrest of Bob Huggins:
Pittsburgh, my hometown, is the primary scene of my crimes of driving while intoxicated, but certainly not the only one.
How, and why, I never had my name on a report like the one above, I’ll never know. I did get caught a few times, but I was let go. Crazy. But the percentage of times I drove drunk v. how many times I was stopped is something less that one one hundredth of one percent.
What’s the difference between me and Bob Huggins as far as drunken driving goes? A) the cops didn’t let him go when they caught him. And B) I don’t do that any longer, one day at a time. But, I surely did the same thing he did.
Today the news is out that Huggins has resigned as coach. He’s walking away from a job that paid him $4.15 million per year. That’s an expensive drunk he went on.
The official statement from West Virginia University mentioned that it was time for Bob Huggins to “focus on his health and his family.”
I hope he focuses on his health by dealing with his alcohol issues. And I hope he can root out his prejudices. We need more community, not divisiveness. We're all in it together.
I need to know, once again, that I’m fortunate to not be under the lash of alcoholism today. As I said before, it’s a beast.