February 12, 2013

English football star Gascoigne enters treatment while Grace begins DUI sentence

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Retired Arizona Diamondbacks star Mark Grace entered the Lower Buckeye Jail yesterday to begin a four-month sentence for DUI following his second arrest last August.
And Saturday night, retired English football (soccer to us Yanks) star Paul Gascoigne continued his lifelong struggle with mental illness and alcoholism in Tucson's Cottonwood treatment center.
Grace's August arrest was not only for extreme DUI but also for failing to use the interlock device put in place after his first DUI arrest in May 2011. He also lost his license for the stipulated 90 days. The Diamondbacks fired him from his broadcaster job, but recently hired him to coach the team's minor leaguers. Under his plea bargain, he will be allowed to participate in work-release, but will return to jail each night.

After the four months, Grace will be on probation for two years during which time he will no doubt be compelled to continue alcohol treatment.

According to his website, Grace has "embraced" sobriety. In a video on the site, he puts the blame for his situation squarely on himself--("I got nobody to blame but myself")--and repeatedly thanks the Diamondbacks for their "class" in inviting him back as a coach. He says he's getting lots of support from former campers who have attended his baseball camps, former teammates, the Diamondbacks themselves, and fans. "It's been awesome," Grace says over and over.
Gascoigne is a beloved name among fans of European football. His career sets him as one of England's best footballers, having won the FA (Football Association) Cup with the Tottenham Hotspurs (link provided to prove I'm not making up this name), and has played on England's national team as well. You can compare him to, say, (swallow) Tom Brady or Mark Warner. Or heck, two-time Super Bowl champ Eli Manning.

Gascoigne has struggled with mental health issues all his life, and with alcoholism at least since the beginning of his career. He has been hospitalized countless times for alcohol and mental health treatment as well as physical ailments including pneumonia and a perforated stomach ulcer. At least one mental health hospitalization was compelled by England's Mental Health Act after an incident in which police judged he was a danger to himself and others. (The Arizona Legislature is now considering a similar bill.) He admitted to domestic violence in two autobiographies.
This weekend, Gascoigne's friends in England--a few former teammates and entertainers including Piers Morgan--pooled their money to send him to Cottonwood for more specialized treatment. Cottonwood treats alcoholism along with co-morbid, or commonly seen, disorders that Gascoigne is said to have, including bipolar disorder, bulimia, and gambling. Detox so far has been so tough that Gascoigne entered in intensive care upon arrival; he is now said to be out of danger.
Judging by comments I've read in some English newspapers, the British public is fairly sympathetic to "Gazza's" troubles and include interesting debates about whether treatment can work.
Not so the comments I'm reading on Phoenix news sites. I hope fans will show some restraint toward Grace, if not shout out some encouragement, during the upcoming spring training games.
Good luck, mates.


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The acronyms DUI, DWI, OMVI and OVI all refer to the same thing: operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The most commonly used terms are DUI, an acronym for Driving Under the Influence, and DWI, an acronym for Driving While Impaired.
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