Addiction in the Movies, in a Play, and in a Book
Sex addiction may not get as much press as other addictions—until it does. In a review of a movie about sex addiction, “Thanks for Sharing,” the writer notes that a person with this problem often has a substance abuse problem as well. So it’s not surprising that a member of the self-help group in the movie is a recovering alcoholic.
This movie is not on my must-see list, so I’ll be looking forward to any comments from people who have seen it.
A.A. on Broadway
In the same Arts section of that paper as that review is a listing for a current play on Broadway. If you’re headed to NYC, you might want to see it. It’s called “Bill W. and Dr. Bob,” after the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous. You might not think this is as interesting a topic as, say, the sex addiction in Thanks for Sharing, but the review says it’s not all dry—that it “never forgets the humor of the human experience, [and] goes a long way toward making this a satisfying revival.” The opening statement in the review caught my eye: “Making the story of the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous 99 percent preachiness-free is quite an accomplishment.”
Apropos of addiction in the movies, did you know there are movie theaters that allow people to drink? The Thrillist website lists several across America, and readers who commented listed a few more, including a theater in Canada. I knew that one movie chain near me serves food, but this takes the cake, pardon the pun. Theater chains may be hurting financially, but I can’t be the only one who thinks this is a controversial idea.
Blame, a Novel
I’ve discovered California novelist Michelle Huneven, who writes about substance abuse in her novel “Blame,” and I recommend this book. It’s about a woman who drinks and becomes involved in a crime she can’t remember that involves the loss of life, and I found it powerful. As the site www.sheistoofondofbooks.com says, Huneven explores the themes of “blame, guilt, redemption, and forgiveness” which many addicts and those close to them can probably relate to.
She also touches on Alcoholics Anonymous. One reviewer wrote that “Throughout the novel, Huneven wavers between an indirect praise of AA (populating it with recovering alcoholics who have found great success with the program), and a veiled disdain for the cultish aspects of it.”
I found Huneven when a friend recommended this list on Amazon: Best Novels about Alcoholism. Her book is #1.
Roger Ebert, Movie Critic
When people think about movies, movie critics often come to mind, and Roger Ebert tops the list. I never knew that he was an alcoholic. He took his last drink in 1979. In 2009, three years after his intense surgery for cancer, he wrote a blog post titled My Name is Roger and I’m an Alcoholic that’s enlightening. Ebert said he was violating the AA’s anonymity rule, but that he was going public in the hope that one reader may choose sobriety as a result: “…[C]onsider this blog entry what A.A. calls a “12th step,” which means sharing the program with others.”
It’s a wonderful blog post. He talks about visiting his doctor after a month of sobriety, feeling giddy that “he did it” (as if he were home-free). He goes on to talk about his path to A.A. and what it meant to him and it’s unlike any other observation about an experience with A.A. I’ve read.