Wrestling Angels --- Monthly Column by Mark Antony Rossi: Junk in the Drunk

Junk in the Drunk

Alcohol in the Arts.  Not an easy conversation. But I am not one to shy away from controversy. Literature is littered with the bodies of those who abused the spirits in the name of creativity. Some I suspect began abuse mostly to ward off wicked bouts of depression. I am not without sympathy or understanding. However; this discussion is often one-sided with the focus being on the drinker. The drinker’s pain. The drinker’s past. The drinker’s wagon. The drinker’s body of work. While these are relevant matters to discuss they are not the only matters requiring the light of day. 

There are other people involved in this drinking. There are family, friends and professional partners also severely affected by the damage of abusive drinking. We seldom hear about their tales. They remain furniture on a dramatic stage. Usually unnoticed. Yet the pain, punishment and passion they absorb from the proximity of alcoholic pummeling is deep and traumatic. They are witness to a slow dance of uncoordinated destruction. And like any caregiver it takes a heavy toll on their physical and mental health. It devours families and destroys marriages. They walk away not trusting themselves; wondering if their support prolonged the malady instead of curbing it.

Speaking as a writer I regularly encounter writers with drinking problems. What I learned reliability. It’s not my place to help cure someone of their demons but I remind anyone in this tailspin: you will be treated equally until you lose that trust. Basically the same rule I apply to anyone else in the world. The moment you create another standard for drinking, drugs and depression is the moment you allow their disease to set your rules. While it’s ethically responsible to work with those seeking to produce art under these conditions, I must counsel self-protection by not permitting sympathy to short circuit the fair treatment you are owed. 

Sadly, we live in a society seeking to lessen the stigma of addiction by instead becoming hypersensitive to common sense and tough love. I have been burned by artists who forget their manners while escaping their demons. They waste your time and spit in your face if everything you do to help them doesn’t magically go their way. Like children with debit cards the “me-me” has grown into a monster not worthy of respect. Heed the voice in your heart and do not allow anyone---family, friend or professional to use your relationship for their benefit and your ruin. Life is shorter when formally good men replace their balls with bottles. The clanking you hear in the distance is the ghostly song of disappointment and deceit. Change the station, folks, there’s still time to find happiness in the symphony of sobriety.


  1. Save your heart for creatures worth your effort. Drunks are not worth your time.

  2. Dy Fusard --- An excellent essay on the liver-killers. May they die off quickly.

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