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Providing non-judgmental and non-criticizing support for family and friends of end-stage alcoholics through one-on-one coaching, support groups, blog posts, workshops and public speaking.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Risky Drinking, a must-see film

I’ve been in New York City for the past couple of days. I was invited to the preview showing of the HBO film, Risky Drinking. I happily put Riley into a nursing home for respite and headed off to take a bite out of the Big Shiny Apple! I’ll write about the trip in another post because for now – it’s all about Risky Drinking.

There were four subjects who consented to have their lives filmed over a course of time.

Kenzie is a young professional who manages to keep her life in order during the work week and then “lets go” on the weekend. What starts out as fun and games always seems to end up with tears and apologies.

Mike moves to St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, to start a new career and a new life. His teenage son comes to visit him and ends up “taking care” of his father. After the boy returns home, Mike attempts to reconcile with his wife, but the attempt ends in disaster.

Rhonda uses alcohol as a coping mechanism and participates in a weekly happy hour with three other women. One of the women, Noel, a divorced mother of two, uses wine to escape her negative feeling. Noel begins to lose her ability to control her drinking.

Neal, a father of two grown children, is at the end-stages of alcoholism. He struggles to function but seems unable to stop his self-destructive behavior. His second wife, Kathy, finds herself attending to him as she would a child.

I was surprised and almost felt a bit guilty as parts of the film made me break out in laughter. It wasn’t really that I thought what was happening was funny. It was that it was so absurd that it was comical. I wanted to yell out to the screen – “Are you KIDDING me??” It was the same reaction I had when observing any drunken person trying to give a sound reasonable explanation for why they are drinking; why it’s OK for them to drive; why their children’s needs aren’t really that important; or any other thing that they needed to explain.

There was no laughter as the film showed Neal in his various states of drunkenness. There was a segment where Neal had been admitted to the hospital for detox. The scenes of him interacting with his grandson were touching and would seem to be a very important reason for Neal to stop drinking. But he does not. His wife, Kathy, is frustrated and ready to divorce him.

This film is a must-see for anyone who believes they may be drinking more than they should. If you can see yourself in any of the four scenarios, it would indicate that it’s time to get some help.

Another aspect to this film that I don’t believe the producers planned for is the behavior and actions of the people who were not the subjects. It was a side effect that needed to be shown. In fact, the subject of the silent collateral damage left in the wake of alcoholism deserves a film all on its own.

Be sure to watch RISKY DRINKING on HBO at 8 pm (EST) on December 19th, 2016.

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