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About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (Jan. 24, 1972)
Another alcoholic, who requested that his
name not be mentioned, said he denied his
problem because he fit none of the common
"I never drank out, " he said, "I never
missed work, I never hit anyone, I was never
in legal trouble and I never had
alcohol-related health problems."
Another man said he didn't know how he
hid his drinking problem but he must have
done it well because he was married three
times to the same woman.
Self-deceit begins early in an alcholic's
life, Fleming said. In his case, he was only
The oldest of eight children, Fleming said
that when his father died he quit school and
got a job to supplement his family's only
income a monthly $62.52 Social Security
"I didn't feel I had any problem. I
painted a picture in my mind of what a man
should be, and that's what I lived by until
three years ago."
The picture in his mind allowed him to
feel he should never change and also
allowed him to blame the people around him
when things went wrong, he said.
Blaming others became a part of his life,
he said. At fault were his wives, Ns family,
who hounded him to seek help, and the
many others he left when it became obvious
they wouldn't let him stay much longer.
At 17, Fleming lied about his age to join
the Air Force. He said he knew it would
mean more money for his family, himself, a
large portion of which he planned to spend
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And he did.
After five court-martials, his first
marriage (at 19), and a high school diploma,
Fleming and his wife settled in Lincoln
where he almost completed an 18-month
"I had trouble with the law, drinking and
a girl," Fleming recalled, so he made the first
of four moves, back and forth from
Cleveland to Lincoln.
He said he stayed in each place until
problems mounted and then, used a trick the
AA defines as "geographical changes,"
meaning, an alcoholic moves to a different
location rather than facing his problems.
His wife moved with him every time,
Fleming said, noting "she really cared about
me because she stuck with me until I finally
drove her away."
While in Cleveland, Fleming said, he had
two years of sobriety. He said his marriage
was better and he felt better about himself.
"But then I ran into old friends and blew
the whole thing. I used the excuse to my
wife 'You're not going to run me any
more'." Fleming recalled.
The Flemings moved back to Lincoln in
1956, when their marriage really began to
crumble, he continued.
"My wife said she had migraine headaches
but I told myself she was just pretending so
she would win sympathy from me," Fleming
said. "I even forbade her to show any pain."
Then he grimaced, saying he remembered
occasionally coming home at mid-day to
find her screaming with pain, although there
was no one around to hear her.
"I stilt didn't believe her," he said, "I was
In 1962 the couple separated-at
Fleming's suggestion and in three years
they were divorced, he said. There were no
Fleming remarried shortly after the
divorce and he said he and his second wife
had problems almost immediately. But his
second wife refused to put up with his
drinking, and told him so, which initiated a
series of short separations, Fleming said.
"I read the AA 'Big Boo'k'-their
gospel and found a sentence that said 'a
heavy drinker can either abstain or
moderate'." Fleming said.
"I showed jt to my wife," he continued,
"and I was just clinging to that word
'moderation'. I didn't want to stop
Fleming said he went through three
months of sobriety during which he said he
was "resentful, irritable and going through
Nine months of "sobriety" which
included 10-day drinking sprees about every
three months and periodic absences from
his wife's apartment, ended April 18, 1969,
according to Fleming.
"I celebrated my sister's birthday,
although she was in Florida and I was here,"
Fleming recalled. "When I woke up the 1 1th
(in an apartment he had rented since he was
not living with his wife), there was a big
cigarette burn on the sofa I was on and I just .
had a cigarette filter in my hand." .
"I remember nothing of the night
before," Fleming said. He was amazed the
apartment didn't go up in flames, and said it
convinced him "someone was trying to tell
Fleming has been sober since that night,
and he said he still attends two to three AA
meetings a week.
A program that seeks to reach the Hank
Flemings while they're still young is the
Lincoln Municipal Court probation and
counseling service for people facing charges
for alcohol-related offenses.
Giles, its coordinator, said the service
operates on the principle of "tough love,"
that is, it hopes to use the fear of facing the
legal charges to convince a person to agree to
a rehabiliatation program of some sort.
Third offense, drunken driving, for
instance, is a felony and carries a penalty of
not less than one year nor more than five
years imprisonment plus suspension of the
individual's driver's license for one year after
the sentence had been served.
Possibly treatments range from attending
four "court classes" about alcoholism and
writing three papers, to referral to a
treatment center or a psychologist
"Less than three per cent of the people in
the program violate the terms of their
probation," Giles said, and he estimated that
60 per cent of the individuals with a
drinking problem "recognize their problem
and- continue participating in recovery
Giles said he occasionally works with the
Volunteer Probation Department that's
staffed by four professional counselors and
about 400 volunteers.
Two University students on probation
attended a court class run by Giles as the
first step in their probation program.
They complained they were both found
by the police with only one can of beer a
piece, both will be of age soon, and told of a
friend who'd been picked up four times by a
policeman and just given a ride home.
Although they acknowled$$d the need
for warnings in other cases, and appreciated
the probation thus eliminating a police
record for them, the two said they still
wished enforcement could be more
Half-way houses in Lincoln there are
four, all for men offer an alcoholic a
stable home as long as he stays sober,
according to the director of one, Ray
The house he . manages, near 16th and
South Streets, gives 1 1 men, ranging in age
from about 20 to 50, a room of their own
and one meal a day for $20 a week.
Lengths of stay vary, Condreay said, and
the door . is always open when someone
wants to go.
The men see their stay at the houses as
temporary, generally they go back to their
wives and rent their own apartment when
they feel they can handle sobriety.
. Condreay, also a LAP counselor, critized
the Chemical Dependency Unit at Lincoln
He said most of the alcoholics he counsels
cannot afford the $42 daily charge for the
unit's program (patients commonly stay in
the unit three to six weeks), and welfare
agencies prefer to send them to the Hastings
treatment center which he said charges $18 a
Heist (the unit's director) complained
that the cost is "realistically based on what
it costs to run the unit" and said comparable
centers cost $60 a day in Minneapolis and
$80 a day in Chicago.
David Henry, assistant administrator at
Lincoln General Hospital, said costs are
somewhat higher now than they will be in
the future because the initial expense of
equiping and staffing the unit.
He said he had contacted state welfare
officials before the unit was even built and
they agreed to the current price. Since that
time, he said, welfare patients have been
admitted only to have welfare officials from
some counties refuse to pay anything for
"We cannot accept an unlimited amount
of people who cannot pay," Henry said, and
be voiced hopes that a posribta $100,003
federal grant will allow them to tower thir
He said he' thought it was important to
remeriber that although the cost per day in
Hastings is lower, patients commonly stay
longer than those in Lincoln and must return
for treatment approximately 3.3 times.
"If welfare officials would compare those
facts with the 80 per cent cure rate units
like ours have, I think they may find they'd
save money to send patients here." he said.
However when an alcoholic receives aid,
he soon finds sobriety is a life-long,
day-to-day ordeal. An AA book recommends
the following oath for all alcoholics:
"If we don't take that first drink today,
we'll never take it, because it is always
THE DAILY NEBRASKAN
MONDAY, JANUARY 24, 1972
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