A CRY FOR HELP
Denver mayor Wellington Webb has gone to court to force his 32-year-old son to get treatment for apparently long-standing addictions to alcohol and cocaine.
Recently, the mayor asked Denver Probate Judge Field C. Benton to place Allen Wayne Webb in the custody of the alcohol and drug abuse division of the Colorado Department of Human Services, according to court documents. The request follows a suicide attempt by Allen in May.
"I believe that Allen is a danger to himself," the mayor wrote in an August 26 letter to the judge. "I believe that Allen is incapacitated and unable to take care of himself because of the chemical dependency problem."
On September 7, however, a hearing on the mayor's petition was postponed after Allen Webb agreed to voluntarily enter the Colorado Mental Health Institute in Pueblo. Allen is scheduled to undergo treatment for ninety days and to receive extensive follow-up care.
The mayor declined comment through his spokesman, Briggs Gamblin. Allen Webb could not be reached.
Dr. Edmund Casper, director of alcohol, drug and psychiatric services at the Denver Department of Health and Hospitals, said in court documents that Allen is in the "chronic severe stage" of his addictions and suffers from "major depression." He lost 25 pounds over the past two months and has been unable to sleep, Casper said.
"He has a constant craving for cocaine and alcohol," Casper wrote in a September 7 letter to Judge Benton. "Mr. Webb continues to be an imminent and long-term danger to himself."
Casper noted that Allen has been in and out of treatment centers at least five times in the past--most recently in June--but that he had left all of the programs prematurely "without any improvement in his condition."
"It is my professional opinion that he needs to be court-ordered to a secure treatment facility for long-term treatment," Casper wrote.
Lyee Rogers, the mayor's first wife and Allen Webb's mother, says her son's battle with addiction dates back several years. "If we want him to get well, we [the members of the family] have to come together," says Rogers, 51, a senior analyst for a Boulder-based health-care consulting company.
Rogers says Allen Webb, who works in the construction industry, swallowed pills and cut one of his wrists around 6 a.m. on May 19--then called 911 himself. Paramedics responded and took him to University Hospital, Rogers says.
Rogers says she considers the incident more a cry for help by Allen than a bona fide attempt to end his own life.
"The only reason I say that is that I've been there," says Rogers, who has suffered from acute depression herself. "He didn't want to die, I know that. He wanted help."
Allen and his twin brother, Anthony, were born in 1962. Wellington and Lyee had a daughter, Felicia, in 1965, but she died of an illness when she was only two years old, Rogers says. The Webbs divorced about a year later.
Mayor Webb married Wilma, his current wife, in 1971. They raised Allen and Anthony. Rogers wed again as well, but that marriage ended in divorce.
Rogers says she was deeply tormented by her daughter's death. She says she had to undergo years of psychotherapy and twice attempted suicide.
"I lost one child," Rogers says. "I'm not about to lay down and lose another. I would do anything in my power to save my child. I know the hurt, I know the anger, and I'm not going to go through it again."
In agreeing to seek help himself, Allen Webb told the court he would undergo counseling and random urine screenings after the Pueblo substance-abuse program ends. If he fails to keep his promise, he could be committed involuntarily, court records say.
A hearing in the matter is scheduled for next April.
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