Actor/director Ben Affleck has a new film out about alcoholism recovery. I haven’t seen the movie, so I can’t review it. But I assume it’s based in part on his own experience. He only recently finished a third stint in rehab.

Let’s hope for Ben that three’s a charm.

Ben Affleck Tackles Alcoholism In Heartbreaking First ‘The Way Back’ Trailer

Going public so soon after rehab is controversial in the addictions field. Most of the clinicians I’ve spoken with believe it makes early recovery even more challenging than usual. One Southern California program director admitted that his routine advice to celebrity patients was to remain anonymous for two full years before “coming out” as a recovering person. “You see how little attention they pay to me,” he complained.

Alcoholism and recovery have a long and distinguished place in the history of film and television. It’s difficult to forget heartbreakers like Days of Wine and Roses, Lost Weekend, and Leaving Las Vegas. All of which I managed to view and admire while secretly wishing I was somewhere else.

I’ve seen several movies about rehab that I thought were reasonably accurate. Clean & Sober, with Michael Keaton, and 28 Days, with Sandra Bullock. Both added a generous dose of humor to the melodrama. There’s a lot of laughter in the recovery world, mostly at oneself. Believe me, it helps.

By the way, there’s apparently a Netflix series called Flaked. I haven’t seen it but the feedback is good and it’s a dark comedy. A review:

Will Arnett’s dark comedy ‘Flaked’ about alcohol addiction gets sobering twist

Don’t Worry He Won’t Get Far on Foot — this is a more recent movie based on a true story. We found both funny and true. A close approximation of what actually happens for many new to recovery — a period when events rarely occur as planned.

There are a couple decent portrayals involving AA. My Name is Bill W., with James Woods and James Gardner, is one we enjoyed. A psychologist accused it of being anti-professional (an accusation sometimes leveled against AA itself), but in view of how the disease was treated in the 1930’s, ’40s and early 50’s, that might have been simple self-preservation. Horrifying what some well-intentioned physicians and psychiatrists wanted to do to “help” the alcoholic in the bad old days.

Anyway, a night- or weekend- of viewing can be instructive if you’re interested in the portrayal of alcoholism and its victims in the popular media.

There are a number of “best” lists for reference. Google for more.


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