The Anchorage teaches sobriety as alternative

ALBANY, Ga. -- An alcoholic or drug addict has only three choices unless he stops drinking or drugging -- jail, the mental ward or death, said The Anchorage's Keith Gaines, executive director.

Members of the Exchange Club of Albany heard Gaines speak at their Friday lunch meeting. They were also presented with some good news from other sources.

Introduced from the audience, Angela Johnson brought "Makerspace Albany" to the Exchangites. A 6-month-old organization, Makerspace is a concept that will allow people to teach, learn and practice woodworking, metalcraft, computer programming, photography, sewing, art and a multitude of other hands-on activities.

Johnson, who describes her role in the organization as "a maker," said the idea is to find a place, probably downtown, where peer learning, knowledge sharing, workshops and lectures would be part of community activity.

According to her handout's mission statement, the organization plans "To provide a community workspace with research areas, workshop, and meeting area to be used for projects, developing new prototypes, ideas, lecture, education & technology in Albany, GA."

Meanwhile the SOWEGA Music & Arts Festival Georgia Throwdown at the Exchange Club Fairgrounds is rapidly coming together, said Sam Shuggart. His production company and Exchangites have been working on the fairgrounds to have the show on Oct. 12 -14.

"We're going to have this place just beautiful," Shuggart said, "and we're going to have a good time."

Unfortunately many men choose the wrong way to seek a good time, Gaines said. The ravages of untreated addiction, whether to alcohol or drugs, are well known, and the costs are personal and societal, he said.

What isn't well known is that when those afflicted are successful in their sobriety, they can lead "meaningful, purposeful and productive lives."

The organization's website, anchorageofalbany.org, states: "Addiction has no boundaries. It affects all economic, racial, and spiritual groups. Our clients range from successful, well-educated professionals to the hourly shift workers. Addiction makes these men one in the same. At The Anchorage, there are no special treatments provided based on education level, income, race, or depth of spirituality. Each man is here for one purpose: to overcome his addiction. Our goal is to help show him the path to productivity."

The Anchorage has been operating since 1953. That is nearly 60 years of helping alcoholics and drug addicts. The help also extends to the community's finances.

Many addicts continue to wind up in jail. An average cost of a year in jail is $40,000 said Gaines. Treatment at The Anchorage, free to addicts, costs the organization a little more than $5,000.

Gaines added that an addict following the program after he leaves The Anchorage he lowers the cost to society of jail, health care and lost productivity.