18 Dec 2017

For someone who does not have addictions, at least not ones in the traditional sense (I am at all times obsessed with films and actors, thank you very much), I think about addictions A LOT. Undeniably, because I am afraid for my daughter and the choices she will make. But also, because I had walked on that edge for decades, until miraculously going sober. If there was ever a more poignant subject in relation to regrets, I would have to be on a never-ending quest to find it: cigarettes, alcohol and drugs are it, hands down.

I have been fortunate enough to have tea-total parents, as well as my younger sister, and therefore been spared a lot of the alcohol-induced drama and abuse that affects so many children and adults. If anyone was causing my family anything alcohol-induced, it was me. And as much as my immediate family’s sobriety matters, it also doesn’t? Because addiction is inescapable, if it doesn’t concern you directly, it orbits you. It orbits everyone. And it doesn’t end in a rehab centre, if you’re fortunate enough to seek help in time – it ends never.

I have dated a man in recovery once. When we met he had already been sober for years and I had never got to see him drunk or high, which obviously was a great thing. But my god was I acting impatient and ignorant. I had no idea what must go into his daily fight with his dark self, his daily routine of AA meetings, of relapse awareness, of immense work around prioritising sobriety. Most unfortunately, I had no idea what kind of personality, what kind of character traits stand behind addiction. I have since been actively trying to understand how addiction works but, sadly, that desire came after I had learned the truth about how I work as a person. “Sadly” because there’s nothing to be proud of: I am impatient and lack empathy when it comes to the disease’s symptoms: the lies, the weaknesses, the inability to pick up the phone even. And I wonder, had addiction-related information been more accessible and available to me when I was young, would I have approached my own troubles more responsibly and my then-boyfriend’s troubles with more compassion?

They don’t teach that at school, they don’t teach you that anywhere outside AL ANON, which, if you are attending AL ANON you may be already in deep sh-t. They “treat” alcoholism in Russia with a method called “coding”, which, as a little bit of research tells me, works on a hypnotic level where the patient is threatened that further consumption will lead to their death. The rate of its success? Fourteen f-cking percent. That’s right, possibly the biggest drinking nation in the world endorses a 14% success chance method of beating addiction. I personally know no one who it has worked on long-term.

I have thought of all of this after watching Demi Lovato’s Simply Complicated documentary. I am not familiar with Demi Lovato outside some small-scale gossip, I don’t know her acting work and I don’t know her music, although I hear her latest album - Complicated - is extremely good. But I have heard a lot from Demi Lovato herself, and every time she talks she talks about her addictions and current sobriety. She is in my face with her stories and accounts and memories and struggles. And it’s not like her visibility and honesty aren’t enough but I am greedy, I want more people like Demi Lovato. I want more people like Demi Lovato so the stubborn idiots in Russia will hear that AA saves lives, that impatient assholes like me are forced to work on their compassion, that little girls and boys like my daughter find out that consumption is not for sh-ts and giggles, that it can drag you all the way down and drag everyone in your life with you. 

This brings me back full circle to my own past of heavy drinking. My parents, you see, all I think about is my parents and the anger and disappointment with which they would greet me every morning after I “went out”. My mother, she was relentless. She would fight and fight and not realise how weak her efforts were in comparison to the power of the effects of addiction. This woman stood no chance but she either didn’t know or didn’t care. If only I could go back in time, man.