As sometimes happens, even if only by coincidence, two vastly similar films were released within months of each other last year. Beautiful Boy and Ben is Back (even sharing alliteration) told comparable stories of young men tackling addiction issues. In both cases, recovery was a slow and ongoing process – and in neither film were the characters ‘cured’ by the end credits. In fact, both stories culminated in relapse.
One was a work of memoir, the other a work of fiction. But both of the stories were true. Anybody who’s been touched by alcoholism or addiction will know these stories. I certainly do.
You’d struggle to find a whānau in this country that hasn’t been touched by alcoholism. Perhaps it doesn’t affect your immediate family – but it’s almost certainly there, somewhere in your lineage. The Ministry of Health estimates that over 780,000 adults in this country are hazardous drinkers. With a population of under 5 million, allow me to state the obvious – that’s a lot.
It also makes a hell of a lot of sense. New Zealand doesn’t just have a drinking culture – it has a binge drinking culture. Unlike the French, who apparently begin sipping on Pinot Noir age three, Kiwi youth generally begin their drinking journey by smashing back beersies till they're waaaaaaasted.
Statistically that’s changing. Among youth, rates of hazardous drinking continue to drop. But cultures take a long time to recover. So here’s what you can do, if you think you need help.
This needn’t be to some hotline or organisation. Sometimes telling one person can be the catalyst for change. This person might be an family member or a friend. Someone you trust. Someone safe.
If YOU are the safe person someone has reached out to, you can find guidance to help your loved one at the NZ Drug Foundation.
On the other hand, reaching out to an organisation is a great option for those people who don’t know who to turn to. Knowing you’re in the hands of experts can be especially reassuring. Some good options include Alcohol Drug Helpline or Living Sober.
Understand it’s a process
Detoxing from our addictions takes time. And energy. And effort. People who have been through the process generally refer to themselves as ‘recovering addicts’ – not ‘recovered addicts’.
There’s an upside to this. A ‘recovered’ person would never engage with the process again. A ‘recovering’ person is part of a wider community. By engaging with other recovering addicts, you remain attached to this community – to this life-force. One of the worst things you can do in life – and this applies in almost all situations – is isolate yourself.
Know that it’s worth it
Drinking and taking some drugs can be fun when controlled, but if they’re negatively impacting life, seeking help is always worth it. If they’re negatively impacting the lives of your loved ones, seeking help is worth it. If they’re negatively impacting your ability to do your job, or participate in your family life, seeking help is worth it. If you think you need to take that first step, do it. You’ll never regret improving your life.Support Villainesse