Saturday, 16 January 2016

I am an alcoholic, and my name is.....

Well, a documentary with that title (aired a few days ago in the UK) was bound to catch my attention, wasn't it?

And you think I'd welcome anything in the mainstream media that highlighted the problems caused by alcohol addiction.

But, actually, no. It made me really mad. Because I think this sort of programme only makes things worse.

Why?

Well, the documentary focussed on eight interviewees (including the fabulous Lucy Rocca - founder of Soberistas.com) who, like all the ex-drinkers I've come across, were amazingly brave, honest and individual.

Almost the entire hour was spent lingering over the details of each of their 'rock bottoms.' Ruined careers, homelessness, emergency hospital admissions and so on, with moody lighting, gritty close ups and porn shots of booze. It was like being invited to watch a car crash in slow motion.

To an extent those stories help. I have huge respect for those people who told their stories so movingly in order to make others watching, whose lives are spiralling out of control, feel less alone.

BUT, interestingly, although the interviewees all confessed to being totally addicted to alcohol, and never wanting to drink again, only half of them described themselves as 'alcoholics.' They used expressions such as 'alcohol dependant' or 'non-drinker.'

(See my post: Are You an Alcoholic?)

Despite this, the documentary was called 'I am an alcoholic, and my name is....' encouraging, I believe, viewers to see the interviewees as 'sad people born with an unfortunate disease', with nothing at all in common with them, regardless of how much wine they were happily throwing back while watching.

The word 'alcoholic' leaves the impression that the people are the problem, not the booze, and that it's 'normal' to drink gallons of an addictive substance without becoming addicted, and 'abnormal' if you do!

One lovely lady, a professional cellist, talked about how she used alcohol to cope with performance anxiety. She used to buy bottles of vodka in the supermarket, and use their toilet to hide in while she decanted them into bottles of Evian.

She said "I know there will be people watching this who are addicted to alcohol, but they'll think I'm okay because I've never mixed vodka into bottles of water in a Supermarket toilet."

And she's right! All those 'rock bottom' stories only serve to reassure other addicts that they're not so bad really. Carry on! Crack open another bottle! That's what an alcoholic looks like, and that's not me!

Alcoholics Anonymous tell people to 'look for the similarities, not the differences,' but it's so much easier and more reassuring to look for all the tiny ways those stories differ from ours, isn't it?

But what made me really cross is that these amazing people had all managed to quit drinking and had gone on the live fantastic lives, achieving wonderful things. And how much time did the documentary spend focussing on that?

The last five minutes.

We were encouraged to come away feeling sorry for those poor alcoholics who'd had such a horrible time and could never drink again, when really we should be thinking What incredible people! I want to be like them!

When are we going to start seeing documentaries with titles like 'How I beat alcohol addiction and transformed my life'?

We need documentaries that show how anybody can find themselves addicted to alcohol, and how quitting isn't just a terrible hardship. Documentaries that encourage people to look hard at their own drinking, and see how much better life could be without it.

We need inspiration, not voyeurism.

Gggrrrrr.

SM x

31 comments:

  1. Agreed. It left a slightly funny taste in my mouth too. I couldn't quite put my finger on it. I could relate at the look they had when they recalled their drinking days. The look of embarrasment, the 'oh my days I can't believe I ACTUALLY did that' One thing I noticed was they all seemed to have sparkly eyes. I hope people can see that in us too SM. Almost 11 months AF! LNM x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're so right about the sparkly eyes - that's why I wish there'd been more focus on the sparkle and less on the grime!

      Delete
    2. And whoop whoop to 11 months! Xx

      Delete
  2. Ok. I think you must get on th writing and producing a movie.You see exactly what society needs - an eye opening look at how "one glass of wine a day, for health" has escalated into a bottle and a problem. For many educated, employed and intelligence people.

    Not rock bottoms, but lows no one needs or wants to wallow in.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We should all collaborate on a movie called...I'm Sober and Awesome and my name is....

      Delete
  3. P.s I was thinking how I would have signed off. It would probably be - My name is LNM and I am an alcohol addict x

    ReplyDelete
  4. So agree. The programme will not encourage those thinking about quitting. It left me upset and less likely to 'come out'.

    ReplyDelete
  5. So agree. The programme will not encourage those thinking about quitting. It left me upset and less likely to 'come out'.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I did feel, that other than Lucy and the Doctor, the stories told were of societies stereotypical view of 'The Alcoholic'. (By that I mean, drinking in the morning etc). I think the focus in the media now needs to be more aimed at the problem drinkers who think it's normal to drink away the stresses of life. Who think that there is something wrong with them because they are so miserable and can't see that the one thing they are doing to numb the misery is only exacerbating it!!!. And, as you have pointed out already, to focus on the wonderful life that is to be gained from sobriety.
    Mrs Nearly 3 weeks here and loving what I see already X

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yay! Well done Unknown! 3 weeks is the hardest bit physically, after that you'll feel less tired and more sparkly. Go girl! Xx

      Delete
  7. Was going to watch it on catch up-shan't bother now! Will stick to inspiring blogs like yours SM xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Do watch it! Lots of people found it helpful. See what you think! Hugs x

      Delete
  8. Dear SM - couldn't agree more. Soooo glad I found your blog and heard from so many others commenting on your blog - who I feel I can relate too. I could have gone on for years convincing myself that I didn't have a problem - instead you've supported me in reaching this wonderful field of bunnies!! Thank you. Love SFM xxx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh joy, you've found a bunny! So pleased x

      Delete
  9. I agree with everyone! (Except I'm American and haven't seen it) But if I did, I would have thought 'I'm not THAT bad' (sip sip). Besides, it's the BBC so it *must* be intelligent.

    Well, that would have been a week ago. So happy to have found this site. You've really helped me change my thinking about drinking SM . Let me count the posts, I've read them all :)

    Looking at day 7 sipping tea instead.

    Thank you. You are an inspiration

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Whoop whoop on 7 days Clio! Awesome work! Keep going.....

      Delete
    2. Your post about the obstacle course sealed the deal :)

      Delete
  10. It wasn't aired here, but we have similar documentaries in Canada/North America..the basic message is "look at all these sad pathetic people...drink up and be glad you're not one of them!" > Makes me mad too. A Royal Hangover was exactly the same - such an opportunity missed by the usually insightful Russell Brand. As i said above, we should collaborate and make our own...oh crap, now I've started....I DO have a contact in the movie industry here.....shall we do it? shall we?

    ReplyDelete
  11. I enjoyed it. It reinforced for me that I don't want to head down that road and hit rock bottom. I agree that there could have / should have been more focus on how 'normal' drinkers are actually alcohol addicts and there were none I associated with except maybe the gp. What also interested me was the bit at the end saying how long they had been sober for - wasn't it only a few days for one of them? I think there is definitely a need for a different type of documentary about the evil wine witch but wonder if anyone would want to put themselves out there....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think the guy who was a few days sober had been AF for 4 years but'd had a relapse? I might be wrong though. x

      Delete
  12. I have yet to watch this but I do have it saved for later. Personally I do identify with the word alcoholic but maybe it is just that it is familiar to me so easy to relate to. I don't know about the whole born with it, genetic, family history, disease etc labels and for me I am not sure it matters. All I know is I have lost the ability to drink 'normally' and therefore can never have a drink ever or just one. I understand that the word alcoholic means different things to different people and many associate it with the low bottom, lost everything drunk whereas for me it is anyone who has an unhealthy relationship with alcohol. One of my friends tries to be supportive of me the poor drunk [said tongue in cheek] but the irony is when she goes out she has no off button and even though I am the daily drinker, she only does it once or twice a month, therefore she doesn't have a problem. Would I point this out to her, no, cos once when I alluded to it she laughed at the ridiculousness. I will go on camera in the NEW movie you are all gonna do ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  13. You are brilliant, Sober Mommy! I would say the same about some of the quit-lit I have read. In fact, I am careful, at 10 months, to not read too much that describes the drinking and more of what describes the life that emerges after sobriety, even in blogs. I have sometimes wondered why people will tell and re-tell their lowest moments. I hope you help produce the documentary about life transformation because I have an astounding story and it's ALL GOOD! But I do think that the program was valuable because it brought to light more examples of how alcohol can ruin anyone's life. I don't thing alcoholism is a disease that has been inherited but is inside every one of us just waiting for the perfect conditions to drag us sneakily into the abyss. I'm sure of it because if it could happen to me it really could happen to anyone. Was it you that did the sober calendar at Christmas? Somebody could do a show like that with all sorts of people talking about the freedom and opportunity that awaits when you put down the glass. I am so glad I found your blog! Onward!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The sober celebs calendar was A Hangover Free Life, and I too loved all the positive messages.

      Delete
  14. Hate to say it, but isn't it the drama and even almost a fascination with people's rock bottoms that proves to be more "entertaining" to watch?? Thinking a documentary that touched only on the worst and focused on the best, wouldn't attract as many viewers. Such is the pathetic world we live in. Just about to finish Jason Vale's book, has put a whole new perspective on alcohol for me...the disease, the industry, and the types of people who use it. A divorce proved to be my cliff into addiction. Working very hard to be mindful of what alcohol took from me and what a life without it, can restore.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Anyone know can u watch from Ireland?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Try going on channel 5 online. I think the title is the same as the post title. I am sure you could find it.

      Delete
    2. yes found it, but can't view. suprised lucy was involved with such a title given all her own thoughts on the whole thing. suppose she was involved with a production and could only input so much. It certainly seems to have missed a massive segment of people comfortably drinking at home delighted with themselves!

      Delete