I was doing research for this series of articles when I stumbled upon something, a word actually, that made me change direction from asking the question, "Is Mark Dayton stable," to:
Is Mark Dayton sober?
Dayton is a self-identified alcoholic who has been through treatment twice, most recently about three years ago for one full week after relapsing near the end of his senate career. Records show Dayton has only been sober for about three years. Or has he?
I ran across an article from the StarTribune, published July 4 2010, which lead me down a path that questions Mark Dayton’s sobriety. The article was titled, "Mark Dayton: a topsy-turvey ride." In the second paragraph, something caught my eye. It said, "Sipping from a bottle of kombucha, a fermented tea that has become a campaign trail staple, this former U.S. senator is trying to revive an up-and-down political career at age 63."
Fermented tea? Doesn't "fermented" usually mean something has turned to alcohol? There began my research on kombucha, the official drink of the Dayton campaign.
What I found was a treasure trove of reasons why an alcoholic shouldn't be downing kombucha tea, and if he is, he is no longer sober according to the sobriety requirements of Alcoholics Anonymous. Here's an article on Relapse Prevention, which may apply to this situation, because this tea is well known for its varying alcohol content.
A website called, "Organic-Kombucha.com. contains this heading: "Who should avoid drinking kombucha tea?" The a sub-head reads: "We strongly suggest not to use kombucha under the following circumstances:"
Alcoholics in recovery - Many recovering alcoholics have found it helpful to drink Kombucha during their recovery period. It is said to remove the desire for alcohol. But be warned though, Kombucha does contain a small quantity of alcohol, normally less that 1% by volume. Any recovering alcoholic knows that even a small quantity of alcohol can have a negative effect on them, so be careful.
Kombucha, in fact, may contain much more alcohol than mentioned above. On June 28, 2010, the New York Times reported Whole Foods pulled the product from their shelves because, "the alcohol content might be high enough to attract the attention of the federal government."
Well, they were right.
Two days later, the Treasury Department issued a warning stating kombucha may be subject to the same taxes and regulations as other beverages containing alcohol. The agency said it “is coordinating with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ensure kombucha products currently on the market comply with Federal laws..."
Analysts said some kombucha teas sold under brand names like Synergy can ferment after shipment, raising the alcohol content from a legal 0.5 percent or less to as high as 3 percent, similar to some beers.
Kombucha tea seems to be well known for its "buzz." In fact a lot of people flipped out when their kombucha was taken away. The way people talk about it, it’s as if they need it, not want it. There’s even a facebook site devoted to the lamentations of kombucha users deprived of their favorite drink: “Dude, Where’s my Kombucha?” You can track “bucha” sightings around the country, including a supply in Vista, CA, to be sold only to those over 21.
GT Dave, owner of Synergy Drinks, announced a recall after reports of elevated alcohol levels in Kombucha products. More publicly, Linsday Lohan blamed Kombucha for setting off her SCRAM bracelet due to its alcohol content. GT Dave believes the elevated levels may be occurring after the product has been bottled and left their facility.
If that is the case, the bottles would need new labels marking the alcohol content. Kombucha is said to increase metabolism, reduce cholesterol, and even fight the effects of ageing. Oddly enough, Kombucha has been said to cure alcoholism. This seems rather bizarre being that Kombucha contains alcohol.
One could argue, “Well, Dayton might not know it contains alcohol. So it’s not his fault.” I argue that it doesn’t matter. I once knew a recovering alcoholic who was given a glass of spiked punch at a party, which led almost immediately to heavy drinking and the destruction of his family. It doesn’t matter why an alcoholic drinks, it just matters that an alcoholic in recovery should not drink at all.
We don't know how many of these drinks he has per day. Is kombucha the reason Dayton often appears befuddled? Is it the reason he seems to slur his words at times?
There is a saying made famous by the movie, "28 Days," starring Sandra Bullock. It addresses when an addict should try to have a serious relationship. It is, in a nutshell: after an addict has become sober he should buy a potted plant. If after one year the plant is still alive, he should buy a pet. If after the second year the pet is alive, then in the third year the addict may begin to consider having a serious relationship with another person.
We don’t know exactly where Dayton falls on that sobriety spectrum. But either way it’s too soon for him to be entering into the very important relationship of governor of an entire state with responsibility for roughly five million souls. I just think it's unwise.