And here’s your End of the World Soundtrack, below the fold:
OMAHA – A supporter said John Passarelli’s robbery spree was so half-baked it was “almost humorous.”
In a string of nine robberies in 13 hours in October, two clerks were so nonplussed that they refused to turn over money to the 6-foot-tall, blond-haired man with a slight build. He robbed the same Kwik Shop twice within five hours.
And for his last hurrah, Passarelli entered a Family Dollar store only to have a clerk order him to leave.
What wasn’t comical, however, was the root of the robbery spree: Passarelli’s persistent addiction to alcohol and drugs.
The addiction has been a battle for the 27-year-old Passarelli, the son of an Omaha attorney by the same name. Passarelli has entered treatment five times at four different facilities.
And that addiction-fueled robbery spree landed him in prison Thursday.
While supporters asked for Passarelli to be placed on probation, Douglas County District Judge Gary Randall said he couldn’t ignore the fact that Passarelli was awaiting trial on felony forgery charges when he committed these robberies.
Omaha attorney Jon Jabenis, who has served as Passarelli’s Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor for about two years, said Passarelli has turned a corner. He urged the judge to send Passarelli to a work-ethic camp in McCook and then put him on probation.
“He’s done nothing but work on his addiction and work on his spirituality,” Jabenis said of Passarelli’s jail stay. “He’s taken the right path.”
A few weeks ago, we posted about an article (h/t JD) about how BC was adopting a disease or medical approach to alcoholism. The article was interesting, because, while the disease model has proven disastrous in the US, BC’s take on it seems less about the politics of recovery and all about adopting a practical, effective approach to the problem. In other words, seeing alcoholism as a medical condition allows funding for treatment and research to flow more freely, which is the best application of the disease model I can think of.
Here’s a follow-up on that article:
Whether or not these costs are a result of diagnosable disease remains an ongoing debate and a loaded question that [Tim] Stockwell [director of the Centre for Addictions Research B.C.] is wary of answering.
“At some point, you might label somebody as having a disease and if that helps get them treatment, fine,” Stockwell says. “I think it’s a great simplification.”
The term didn’t fit for Michael Walsh, who was living a sober life, following recovery from a cocaine addiction and alcohol abuse, but still harbouring the negativity associated with labelling himself an alcoholic. Seeing a lack of support options available in Greater Victoria, Walsh founded the Canadian branch of LifeRing, a peer-support addiction recovery group based on the principles of sobriety, secularity and self-help.
“I’m Michael and I’m more than someone who has struggled with addiction and abuse,” says Walsh, executive director LifeRing Secular Recovery (Society Canada), a registered charity that has nine groups that meet regularly in the Capital Region. “I had to shake that.”
Some of the beliefs imparted on Walsh early in his recovery – being told that alcohol abuse was a disease, that it was hereditary and that the only support was through Alcoholics Anonymous – only complicated the process for him and are not a part of the LifeRing platform, (although members are encouraged to use any additional support systems they find personally helpful).
For Stockwell, the most appropriate way of looking at the problem is to say there’s “a continuum of dependence severity” that includes anyone who uses substances. As far as alcoholism being hereditary, there are genetic components to almost everything a person does and thinks – substance use is no different.
Twenty-five years of using drugs and drinking fractured relationships in Walsh’s life. Those haven’t yet been repaired after years of sobriety and he continues to attend meetings periodically as he steers the organization.
“Part of what we encourage people to do is open up,” Walsh says. “There’s more to life than recovery. Anything’s possible.”