Starring Alcoholism


Alcoholism shows up on the movie screen, in TV shows, the pages of books and for some of us, in our lives. For those who have lived with an alcoholic, these words may sound hauntingly familiar.

“I don’t know if I started drinking ’cause my wife left me or my wife left me ’cause I started drinking.” ~Ben Senderson, played by Nicholas Cage in Leaving Las Vegas.

He came with his date…alcoholism.~Tina Fey’s character, Liz Lemmon, talking about her father on the TV show 30 Rock.

In The Lost Weekend, Helen is in love with Don. “I know you’re trying, Don. We’re both trying. You’re trying not to drink and I’m trying not to love you.”

Don’s brother, Wick, talking to Helen:  “Who are we fooling? We’ve tried everything, haven’t we? We’ve reasoned with him. We’ve baited him. We’ve watched him like a hawk. We’ve tried trusting him. How often have you cried? How often have I beaten him up? Scraped him out of a gutter and pumped some kind of self-respect into him and back he falls, back in every time.” The Lost Weekend

Everything seemed possible over a beer. ~Pete Hamill, A Drinking Life

In the film, Flight, Denzel Washington plays ‘Whip’ Whitaker, an airline pilot. Before appearing in front of a Hearing Committee, he gets some advice: “Remember, if they ask you anything about your drinking, it’s totally acceptable to say ‘I don’t recall.'” Whip responds:  “Hey, don’t tell me how to lie about my drinking, okay? I know how to lie about my drinking. I’ve been lying about my drinking my whole life.”

Later in Flight, Whip tells the Committee:  “I’m drunk right now, because I’m an alcoholic.”

In the film 28 Days, Gwen, played by Sandra Bullock, ruins the wedding of her sister, Lily, by giving a rambling drunken speech, knocking over the wedding cake and stealing the limo. Lily tells her: “Gwen, you make it impossible to love you.”

From the film, My Name is Bill W, the story about the founders of a support group that became the basis for Alcoholic Anonymous. When asked by his wife, Lois, why he drinks, Bill responds: “I found that a drink…a few drinks…makes me feel comfortable. Like I always want to feel. Gives me courage…to be with people…do things…to dream. The money, the success, the respect, it was all good for a while, but it never seemed enough. I always want…doubles of everything to make me feel alive, worthwhile inside. And then… it all began to slip away. I feel cheated. Angry. Always so full of fear. So I drank… more… and it makes it okay for a while. I convince myself that things will turn around tomorrow. Soon. That I’ll make it all up for you, but it only gets worse. I…I keep promising you…others, myself, that’s it, no more, going on the wagon, THAT’S IT! And I think I mean it, but…but the guilt…and the depression…I can’t look in a mirror…or at you… especially…especially at you. I’ve stopped believing in everything. People. God. Myself. I know it sounds insane, Lois, but in spite of all this, what I want right now more than anything else…is another drink.”

6 Responses to “Starring Alcoholism”

  1. Charlotte

    I am now left with our 5 kids to raise. My husband died a few weeks ago of cirrhosis. His drink journey took me along for the ride but my devastation at his loss is horrendous. He loved us all and worked so hard but his addiction ruled him.

    • PaulaGanziLicata

      I’m so sorry for your loss, Charlotte, and all that your family has suffered. It’s a terrifying and devastating time. Reach out to friends and family for comfort. Accept their offers of help. You may also find support at Al-Anon and Alateen, as well as community outreach programs, or groups at your church or synagogue. If you’re eligible, look into social security survivor benefits. There’s no such thing as too much help.

  2. Lisa Brown

    I’m living the nightmare and need to read other’s experiences. Thank you for being so honest

    • PaulaGanziLicata

      My heart goes out to you, Lisa. Please take care of yourself, often the alcoholic takes up all our energies. There’s no such thing as too much help. Reach out, stay connected, find comfort and support with family, friends, professional help, support groups – whatever network works for you.

  3. Diane

    That knocked the wind out of me.
    2 years this week since my husband of 40 years died of cirrhosis.


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