TUNKHANNOCK — A man with a long, untrimmed beard, dirty and disheveled in appearance, sits crumpled in a puddle of filth against the brick wall of a dark alley. Passed out, he grips an empty beer bottle in one hand, with more of the same piled up beside him. He reeks of immorality, and the occasional passer-by holds his or her nose, hurrying away.
While this character is fictional, he represents a stereotype that enters many people’s minds when they hear the word “alcoholic” — a stereotype John Fabiseski, 33, of Tunkhannock, hopes to help bring to an end.
As a recovering alcoholic, Fabiseski is going on two years of sobriety this January.
To him, remaining sober is an everyday struggle and something not of which to be ashamed, but to celebrate. And he hopes more people in the community will come to an understanding of alcoholism as a disease rather than some sort of “moral lacking.”
“You think about an alcoholic, you think about a bum in an alley with a brown bag,” he said. “That’s the stereotype. We’re everyday people. I mean, we’re in your courthouse, we’re in stores, everywhere. We’re basic everyday people who have a bad disease.”
But it isn’t only the general public who see alcoholism through a stereotype-coated lens.
It is also those who struggle everyday to remain sober who sometimes have difficulty believing they can live a “normal” life, according to Barb Landon, chairperson of Wyoming County C.A.R.E.S. (Coalition on Addiction Research Educate Support), a Tunkhannock-based organization which works to raise awareness and confront the problem of addiction in the community.
“In their prior life when they were actively using, the individuals think that’s the only way to live,” she explained. “They don’t understand that you could go to a movie, you could have a good time, without using alcohol or drugs.”
Which is part of the reason Fabiseski decided to organize a new quarterly community movie night, called “Celebrate Sobriety at the Movies,” for anyone in the community whose life is affected by addiction.
The first event is scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 4 at the Dietrich Theater and will feature the 1980s classic film “The Goonies,” directed by Stephen Spielberg and starring Josh Brolin, Sean Astin and Jeff Cohen. The movie follows a group of misfits on an adventure to find a pirate’s ancient treasure and save their home from foreclosure. Rated PG, it is appropriate for both children and adults, and families are encouraged to attend together.
Thanks to Wyoming County C.A.R.E.S. and several other area organizations, businesses and individuals, admission, popcorn and soda are all free. Door prizes will also be awarded. Free tickets are available by visiting the Dietrich Theater ticket booth or can be reserved by calling 570-996-1500.
Other sponsors include Wyoming/Sullivan Treatment Program, Commissioner Tom Henry, Mile Hill Auto Parts, Dunk Inspections, Clearbrook Treatment Center, Morrison Contracting, PS Bank, Attorney Tom Daniels, Mayflower Florist, Ebbs Candy Jar, Downtown Deli, Morrison Salon & Spa, The Freeze, Curry Donuts, Endless Mountains Skydivers, D&L Railhouse, Monzies Floral, Hampton Inn, Newsies Pizza, Seasons Restaurant, The Hair Flair, and J.R’s Hallmark.
Fabiseski is also tying the event in with his Human Services class at Luzerne County Community College, which mandates he complete at least 20 hours of community service.
The distance education student decided to continue his schooling in order to follow in the footsteps of those who inspire him the most, by becoming a counselor.
“The people who are directly responsible for my recovery are counselors,” he said, adding he wishes to do the same someday for others.