Opinion

Judge’s words are a cruel joke for problem drunk

Some readers wonder why I continue to write stories about the alcoholic misadventures of Joseph Galligos.

I’ve heard the arguments: “You’re victimizing the victim of alcohol,” or “You’re simply writing sensational stories about a marginalized man.” I understand those opinions, but it’s not the reason we continue to publish articles about a man who’s still just 25.

The unfortunate reality is there are more people like Galligos whose battles with alcohol keep them stuck in the revolving door of the legal system.

I wouldn’t say there are a lot of people in Campbell River like Joseph Galligos – along with his younger brother Anthony who has similar troubles with booze and the law – but they’re highly visible in our little downtown where they like to hang out.

You know the spots: In the alley between JJ’s and the Haida, on the break wall across from the ferry terminal, or tucked away, out of sight, in the woods adjacent to Nunns Creek Park.

Cheap, high-alcohol bevies are the choice selections, but anything will do in a pinch, like cough syrup. It’s not a choice though, it’s an addiction.

It’s sad to see people live like this. The other unfortunate reality, in Campbell River, is many of these people are aboriginal who typically come from homes where alcoholism, and all the troubles with boozing, were a way of life.

That’s the story of the Galligos brothers whose mother has had her own long struggle with the bottle and the law. As the saying goes, the apples don’t fall far from the tree.

But, as I said, there are not a lot of these “bad apples” in our city, but they do command tremendous resources that help keep a lot of high-priced professionals employed, such as police, guards, councillors, lawyers and judges.

I don’t begrudge the salaries these people earn, but I do object to our so-called system that keeps guys like Joseph Galligos caught in a loop where he never seems to receive meaningful help, assistance or guidance.

And it’s a cruel joke when a judge locks up Galligos again and then tells him, “it’s up to you,” to change.

Really? When a relatively young man has complied almost 40 criminal convictions for breaching court conditions – mainly for drinking when’s ordered not to do so, even though he’s an alcoholic – he clearly does not have the willpower or inner resources to help himself.

Instead, people like Galligos are encouraged to enter treatment programs. I’m no expert, but it seems the long-term success rates are low for these programs. It’s either that, or the Galligos’ of this world “enjoy” going back to rehab over and over again, just like jail.

Also consider the average rehab stint lasts 1-3 months which really isn’t that long for people who’ve suffered in different ways their entire lives, have a limited education and few marketable skills.

There has to be a better way and not just for the sake of Joseph Galligos, but for all of us who pay the price. Next week I’ll take a look at some of those ways.

paulr@campbellrivermirror.com

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