When the booze runs out, Eddy will drink whatever he can get his hands on: mouthwash, shaving lotion, rubbing alcohol cut with water. He'll even mix up a cocktail of shellac thinner and Pepsi-Cola.

"You know it can kill you, but you drink enough to get a buzz on and stop shaking," says Eddy, 42, who has managed to survive for 24 years as a chronic alcoholic.

Eddy's latest bender ended abruptly Sept. 18 when he was arrested for burglarizing a Fairfax County apartment. Eddy, who works regularly as a house painter when he is sober, says he was just looking for something to drink.

But when Eddy couldn't post a $1,000 bond, he was taken to the Fairfax County jail, a squat, modernistic tan brick building that sits on the edge of the county's government complex in Fairfax City.

There he joined more than 300 other inmates, many of them with life histories remarkably similar to his own; men with alcohol, drug or mental problems that continuously have gotten them into trouble. It is men like Eddy -- not hardened criminals -- who have jammed the 200-bed, four-year-old jail, transforming it into what Sheriff M. Wayne Huggins calls "a warehouse for social outcasts."

A survey of 150 inmates in the jail on a typical weekday this month tends to confirm Huggins' complaint. More than a third of the inmates whose records were checked by a reporter had had serious alcohol, drug, or mental problems.

Although the finding surprises Fairfax Chief Circuit Court Judge Barnard F. Jennings and others, it comes as no surprise to the man in charge of the inmates.

"I would have guessed more," said Huggins who like his predecessor, the colorful James Swinson, has argued that the rich suburban county is only buying potential trouble with its spend-thrift attitude toward the inmates.

Indeed, Huggins says that if his jail could be freed of the burden of caring for people with such problems, he would abandon his call for a $8.5 million expansion of the jail, which has been overcrowded since it was opened."

"There are a lot of people in this jail who should not be here," he says. "But where the hell are you going to put them?"

The answer is that in Fairfax many people stay in jail because they are too poor, are considered too risky to be released ["If you're from D.C.," Huggins said, "the bondsmen won't touch you."], or because the county has no facilities to treat their problems.

The jail, which was supposed to handle all the county's correctional needs through 1980, can offer them little help, Huggins says. The average population is 315, and on busy weekends, mattresses have to be hastily set up in the corridors when as many as 360 prisoners are crammed inside.

Once jailed, there's often nothing for inmates to do but sit and wait. "I've got blisters on my butt from sitting," says inmates Bill Bane, 21, a Prince George's resident, whose last night of freedom was Nov. 25.

"I drank four pitchers of beer and a pint of VO," he said, referring to the brand of liquor he consumed. "I don't remember much after that but I guess I went to the church across the street and stole a car."

After Bane was arrested on car theft charges, a judge set his bond at $3,600, but bondsmen demanded Bane post collateral for the full amount because he was not a Fairfax resident. Bane couldn't, so he sits awaiting trial.

"Something's going to happen," says Sheriff Huggins. "I don't know what, but something's going to happen to bring this to a head."

The situation, he fears, is likely to get worse. Last month, Fairfax voters rejected a multimillion-dollar bond referendum that would have added 96 beds to the jail.

Before spending any tax money, the supervisors decided the jail needed more study, an action that infuriated Huggins. "This has been studied to death -- four or five times in the past two years," he says. "I wish they'd quit talking about it. They've been talking about it for 16 years . . . we need help."

Some members of the County Board of Supervisors bristle at Huggins' assessment. "That's easy enough for him to say," says Martha V. Pennino, vice chairman of the county board. "The sheriff doesn't set the tax rate. He's not answerable to the people."

Pennino says she favors local treatment facilities for criminals with alcohol, drug or mental problems, but, adds: "It's not going to be an inexpensive program, and you've got to verify to the public that it's a program that will have results."

The new study is necessary, Pennino says, because "we have to win the support of the general public."

Huggins says that the crowded cell blocks would be a good place for the study committee to hold its first session, meeting inmates like Stanley, 21, who, with blinking eyes and halting voice, will describe his formative years, in upstate New York.

At school, he was in special education classes for slow learners. At home, his father beat him with fists and furniture -- once so badly, he says, that he was in the hospital for six months. "I get real nervous when people raise their hands just to say, Hi," he says. "I think I ought to go to a mental institution to get some help."

But instead, Stanley (whose name has been changed) sits in the Fairfax jail, where he awaits trial for committing sodomy with a 4-year-old girl.

Anyone looking for hardened, professional criminals at the Fairfax jail is likely to be disappointed.

They are more likely to be like Mike. At 51, Mike is, according to his records, a "recidivist," or repeat offender, and because of that he faces from one to five years. All his charges are related to drinking -- either drunk in public or driving while intoxicated.

"I don't drink on the job," says Mike, a cement finisher who lives in the District. "Friday and Saturday are my drinking days. I start off socially. I bring a fifth home. Then I get another one. Then I get maybe three or four more. Then I want to drive."

Mike was arrested Nov. 6 when his car was weaving 15 miles an hour down Rte. 50, a major Fairfax commuter route.

Mike helped build the Fairfax jail, he notes proudly. "I'm walking on work I did." He would like to work while he is in jail, but he is not eligible for work-release until he is sentenced on the habitual offender charge.

Mike goes to AA meetings at the jail every Wednesday, but apart from that, "I get no help at all."

Brett Clark, 21, arrived at the jail because he missed a group therapy session at the Fairfax Crossroads drug rehabilitation program Sept. 23 while he was free on bond awaiting sentencing o a drug charge. Clark said he didn't go because the Crossroads receptionist told him there was no meeting that night.His bond was revoked and he was ordered to jail.

On Oct. 24 he was sentenced to six years -- three years for possession of Percodan, a painkiller, and three years for possession of marijuana with intention to distribute. He is elgible for the drug treatment program at Crossroads as part of his sentence, but because there is a waiting list, it could be months before Clark can get in the program. In the meantime he sits in the jail.

Sheriff Huggins concedes he gives little help to many of his inmates. "We're not a mental health facility. We are a penal institution. We've got one psychologist for 300 inmates, one alcohol counselor and a part-time drug counselor.

"I don't deny the inmates aren't getting the help they need. But I just open the door and close it. I don't control who comes in."