There are several documentaries on alcohol misuse and abuse that I think are well balanced, and reflect an experience that many of us can relate to. Wine o’Clock from Australia, Risky Drinking from the United States, and Drinking Yourself to Death made in the UK, all do a terrific job of profiling different levels of what is often called alcohol-use-disorder. They offer perspective on current ideas of what a healthy relationship to alcohol may be and represent different approaches to stopping drinking or adjusting to a moderate drinking lifestyle. What does it mean to be an alcoholic as opposed to a binge drinker? Who needs to stop? When is it time? When is it too late? These are all questions that many of us who are habitual drinkers often ask ourselves, and these documentaries are full of possible answers.
There is something considerably more visceral in watching a documentary about alcoholism than in reading a book. In my first months sober, I read many books on how to stop drinking, and biographies about people’s experience of addiction and recovery, but my most vivid memory of a punch to the gut style reality check, an awkward-uncomfortable-squeamish-sorrowful this could be you if you drink alcohol again moment, was the documentary Rain in My Heart. It was heartbreaking and chilling.
I’ve read that seeing or knowing the ravages of alcohol abuse won’t help you quit drinking and I agree. Generally speaking, if you are a habitual drinker, emotions like fear or anxiety are likely to make you want to drink more. But I know that Rain in My Heart helped me stay sober when I watched it a few weeks after I’d stopped drinking. Those of us here who are facing our demons and actively trying to change our ways should witness the plights of the 4 tragic souls in this film. I applaud them for allowing their stories to be presented so that maybe we, or someone we know, can avoid their fate. And I applaud the filmmaker for taking this on.
I highly recommend all of the films listed above if you are questioning your drinking, or have recently stopped drinking and are trying to stay sober. You will find them on YouTube at the blue-linked titles above. But be forewarned, Rain in my Heart is painful at times to watch but definitely worth powering through along with the more recently produced Drinking To Oblivion by Louis Theroux on Vimeo.
Check out, My Name Was Bette, for a more intimate approach to telling the story. It is a documentary by the daughter of a woman who died from alcohol abuse. It hit home for me – Bette was a professional single mom (a nurse) who got sucked in by alcohol and couldn’t break free. The daughters are clearly so torn – it is a good look at the family’s side of addiction.
More reading from Boozemusings on the documentary Wine o’Clock – I’ve Had Enough of Seeing “Mommy’s Wine Time” Glamourized !
More reading from Boozemusings on the documentary Drinking Yourself to Death – Disney Mentality
Poetic Ramblings on Rain in my Heart by Floss
What has Rain in my heart taught me?
Without a doubt alcohol isn’t worth the thrill
But we watch a programme like this and we think
That can’t happen to me
So I’ll have another drink
On the documentary
Swigging vodka says
I’m going to give up
As when I was in hospital I promised
Just not today
Just ‘cos I can’t deal with the day
I need this
The documentary maker nearly cried
Wanting to shout out “Why?”
What makes you want to self destruct?
Another woman, 26, was convinced she didn’t have a problem with alcohol but
She died in hospital after vomiting blood
So sad, tragic yet also I think it’s brave
these people shared their stories
Though they couldn’t be saved
They left a kind of legacy
You see they told us their reasons for wanting to drink
Ranging from boredom to just
not wanting to think.
It made my heart sink.
The pain these people were in
Both mentally and physically
“Gremlins” they just couldn’t bear to see
That could at some point be you or me
I think part of alcohol’s insidiousness is
That we think that it can’t happen to us
But I know it can though, personally
In the film a young man not even 30
Downing pints of red wine, throwing up and hurting
Wanting someone to notice he’s not at all well
Doesn’t want his family to worry though
Who can he tell?
This young man facing possible eviction
Said in a moment of quiet reflection
“If I’m not the perfect advert to not drink I don’t know what is”
I’m going to remember this!
A middle aged woman, young mother, struggling son
All lives blighted or destroyed by
If we learn anything from this film
It’s that alcohol kills
And shouldn’t be messed with
Let’s destroy this “it can’t happen to me” myth
It might be comforting to think
But it’s poison in your drink
That’s what alcohol REALLY is
It’s not a film of sociable merriment and mistakes
Showing drinking as sophisticated
It depicts what alcohol really takes
The reality of people in hospital medicated
Still craving booze when they’ve been told they will lose
It’s a film of harrowing, heartwrenching scenes
A gritty documentary of broken lives and dreams
To anyone feeling upset, ashamed, alone
You really aren’t on your own you know
Please don’t feel that way
Lots of people have been in the same boat
Some are where you are today
Sat where you are sitting
Their fists tightly clenched
Their teeth they are gritting
Their hearts pretty wrenched
A self hatred rain cloud
Greyness all around
But really though sad
They deserve to feel proud
They have the courage and guts needed
To fight their alcohol voice
To do the work
And find they do have a choice
That inner voice that tells you that you can’t do this
Is just Beer Boy or the Wine Witch
Don’t trust them they lie
He’s just a thug
And she’s just a bitch 😉
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