Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Riveting TV

There's an amazing story that has been airing on TV here in New Zealand on a nightly current affairs show. They devoted an entire programme one evening (half an hour) to the story of an alcoholic woman called Charlene. Charlene was very brave to let the cameras in to her house to record her drinking habits, and then follow her as she detoxed for 5 days.  It's pretty raw stuff but handled very well by the reporter, who also interviews her GP, and the detox nurse provided free by an agency here in NZ.

The programme received heaps of feedback .. and the following night they aired a follow-up which informed us that Charlene had gone back to the booze.  So much of what is talked about in here had me nodding and understanding .... so much that I know about this addiction and how hard it is to kick.

I hope these links work overseas - let me know.

There is such a huge problem with alcohol in our society - on the macro level (hospitals, police etc) and the micro level (thousands of individuals and their families), yet much of it goes unspoken. How many families never talk about the huge elephant in the room that is one person's drinking? We watch it escalate, we worry, we talk amongst ourselves but not to the person drinking.

Someone like Charlene has gone a long way down into the addiction - for her there is no avoiding the elephant in the room, her drinking is such that the rest of her life and relationships have all but been halted.  But for the thousands of others who are still 'high functioning' despite the drinking clearly being an issue .. why don't we speak up?  Is it because the line between normal drinking and dysfunctional drinking is so blurred.  When does one person go from being ok to having a problem? How do we measure that?

I know for me the process was gradual, and a lot of it private.  No-one else could hear my sick thought processes regarding my beloved wine (Have I any wine in the house for tonight? I should try and not have any tonight but bugger it I will. Is there enough left in the fridge? I'll just slurp the top down quickly before anyone sees. Just one more before bed. Just one more. Just one more.)

I even had to convince Mr D that I had a problem, and he lives with me!  Heavy steady drinking is so accepted by all of us.  It was only because (thank fucking god) I started saying out loud to myself and a few loved ones 'this is wrong, this is dysfunctional, this has to stop' over and over and over that I managed to get sober (although Mr D can see clearly now that I've taken the wine away what a difference it has made).

I just feel sad.  Sad for Charlene and so many others.  I wish there could be a groundswell of change in our society starting from the bottom up. All of us need to change our attitudes and our opinions.  Going out and getting hammered is not cool. Neither is steady heavy drinking in the home.

Love, Mrs D xxx


  1. Alcohol abuse, alcohol misuse, alcohol dependence, alcoholism....all of it is just so HUGE in American culture. And something that irritates me is when people over here (the USA) assume that those overseas have it so much more together because "They have a different relationship with alcohol over there." I hear that a lot.

    I think to myself, "Really? You REALLY think that?" This coming from individuals who have never stepped foot on the soil of France or Italy or New Zealand or...

    I am coming to learn that alcohol abuse is rampant all over and it is a BIG problem. But nobody wants to point the finger because it then turns the spotlight on all others within the equation. I mean, god forbid we should ALL look at our drinking habits.

  2. look like you have a guest spammer :) this is terribly sad, yes the links work, i'm going to let the videos buffer before i try to watch them. i'm too early sober myself to have any perspective, except to say that EVERYONE seems to drink, and NO ONE seems to think it's a problem. i was not a fall down drunk and it was still a big problem in my life. beyond those who self-identify as alcoholic, there are 10x more who are like us. over-drinkers. who need to stop ...

  3. watched the two links, thanks so much for sharing! i found her story so sad. i feel like she's dealing with so many things at the same time, and more than a little depression ... so now she's feeling nearly hopeless. it's a shame she won't get herself into an inpatient treatment facility, and just STAY somewhere however long it takes to get more stable. it really breaks your heart, doesn't it. and the midnight trips to the grocery store were sickening. that's not available where I live ... i guess not all countries have shopping 24/7, and thank god for that. Like, who else is shopping at 12 am? Thanks Mrs D for sharing.

  4. Amen.

    I will watch the videos when I get home. Thank you so much for posting this.


  5. Well, there you have it, there's my story. OMG! When she asked for that break in the first segment, I knew exactly what she was feeling when she got that glass in her hand. That immense relief. The times I had to hold on with both hands to get the glass up to my lips, the wine sloshing over the side because I was shaking so bad. The blessed relief coming at the same time as the revulsion. It didn't happen often, but it happened. I can remember telling the cap'n I felt like I was dying, please, please let me have a drink.

    Did you notice she never appears drunk? Lethargic and dazed, yes, but not drunk. I remember that, too. I couldn't even get drunk anymore.

    Please God, let me stay sober

  6. I just wanted to let you know that I shared these links on a couple of message boards I frequent.

  7. I just watched the videos and felt the need to comment again.

    Tragic, awful and...frightening.

    Tragic and awful because that poor woman will likely die from this.

    Frightening because while I was watching her sip her Chardonnay I could smell and taste it.

    Even more frightening because when she relapsed, part of me (a very small part) was envious.


    Thanks for posting this Mrs. D. You rock.

  8. One reason I don't comment on other people's drinking is I'm afraid of sounding preachy, but also because I know a person has to really want to change...that's a whole mysterious process. AA talks a lot about 'attraction, not promotion' and I like the idea of that. A lot of people know I don't drink, so maybe someone with a problem will be inspired to get help if they see firsthand that life can still be fun (more fun, even) without alcohol. It feels a cop out, though, in sad cases such as Charlene's.

  9. Thanks for sharing this Mrs D. I can relate so well when Charlene says you get so used to being sick that it's uncomfortable feeling good. What an insidious addiction it is. I sincerely hope she becomes strong enough to ask for the help she needs.

  10. Addiction is really so sad. Lucky for us we were able to make up our minds on our own that enough is enough before we hurt ourselves or someone else. It took a lonnnngggg time for me to finally DECIDE that I had no choice to but give it all up...100%. And there is no looking back now. I can't be a moderate your words, I am not a 'normie'. But sadly we all have to 'make that choice' ourselves. I'm so glad we all did and I think your blog will help others make that choice too. By seeing that we can do it, they will see they can too. I know you are helping I'm sure you have helped others make that choice!!! Thank you Mrs D.