There are certainly no shortage of depictions of addiction and alcoholism in popular culture, some of it original, much of it clichéd but they sure are there. That might make a good book, if someone hasn’t already written it, let us know if you have.
This though is a blog post, and as such prefers to take “snap shots” of particular themes or ideas, loving vignettes perhaps, but always contained in a digestible enough form.
In coming posts we will talk about and point you to Recovery podcasts and programming, but for now we want to talk the UK’s BBC Radio 4, hopeless heroin addicts, blockbuster film directors, best selling authors, great actors, love and Recovery.
In the space of a week the UK’s foremost intelligent talk station have added to Recovery culture with two classy broadcasts, one on their “Seriously” documentary strand, the other a second series of an authentically and humorous fictional comedy/drama series Love In Recovery.
2016 is the 20th anniversary of Trainspotting. A landmark depiction of addiction and British film making (Danny Boyle’s first hit after breakthrough debut Shallow Grave) – the film based on the 1993 book of the same name by Irvine Welsh told dark stories of heroin addiction, alcoholism, sex and violence set to a craftily picked soundtrack with some of the slickest marketing and poster campaigns of the decade. Everything was right, Ewan McGregor (now incidentally in recovery himself) and Robert Carlyle led a cast of bright, brash talent into the critics hearts (mostly) and a box office smash. Yes, everything was right, particularly as the cast and screenplay writers were consulting with the real deal, the characters who inspired the actors and film makers were real life addicts in Recovery.
‘Choose Life‘ is Radio 4’s documentary about members of the Calton Athletic Recovery Group. As well as cameo appearances in the film, the Group gets an end credit for special technical advice and thanks “for their inspiration and courage.” Choose Life features the group members’ own stories of how their addiction and recovery affected their lives and those who love them.
Founded in 1985 (ten years older than the film), CARG is a registered charity who “aim to provide support through weekly recovery meetings, as well as various physical activities, both of which we believe are integral to achieve and sustain long term recovery.” The Group also run Drug Awareness programs for schools and other sports and social clubs, using the same “credible messenger” experience that helped guarantee the authenticity of Trainspotting 20 years ago.
Authenticity also marks out the BBC Radio 4 ‘Love In Recovery’ back for a second season in March 2016. The first series of this comedy/drama aired in 2015. Writer Pete Jackson, informed by his own experiences in Recovery and at 12 Step meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous, follows five recovering alcoholics catching up weekly at meetings – for those who know, the stories of love, loss, triumph and failure shared with love and humor will be familiar. Hopefully, for those who don’t the series makes the idea of a life in recovery tangible and accessible. The added bonus is great performances particularly from BAFTA winner, Rebecca Front (The Thick Of It) and dare one say, national treasure Sue Johnston (The Royle Family).
So as promised, BBC Radio 4, hopeless heroin addicts, blockbuster film directors, best selling authors, great actors, love and Recovery all in one snap shot of contemporary views of Recovery in main stream media. We could go on with ABC’s Recovery Road, CBS’s Mom and Elementary (starring Johnny Lee Miller Trainspotting’s Sick Boy!) – but maybe we can save those for another post.