Alcohol and drug use is becoming a trendy theme in popular movies and television shows. The problem is that these movies and television shows don’t always accurately portray the reality of alcohol and drug use. Here we will look at popular films and performances that include common myths about drugs and alcohol.
In the movie 28 days, Sandra Bullock is given a choice between going to prison or spending 28 days in a rehabilitation center. Even though 28-day rehab programs are popular in the United States, it is not an optimal treatment period for many alcohol and drug users in recovery. The 28-day rehab model was developed around funding instead of effectiveness because many health insurance companies in the US are only prepared to fund 28 days of rehabilitation. Studies show that three months of treatment is far more optimal.
You may have caught a glimpse at the Netflix series Cobra Kai, where the main character is in a residential rehabilitation center. The rehab center she admits to is a luxurious vacation retreat with art and yoga classes, wide open spaces, and Michelin-starred food. Even though some private rehab centers can be fancy in that nature, they can also be costly. Some range anywhere from ten to thirty-five thousand dollars a week or more, which is out of reach for most people. The reality is that a public residential rehabilitation center is likely to be far less glamorous, with long wait times and minimal funding. Spending more money on your stay at a rehabilitation center doesn’t necessarily make for a better or more successful treatment program and rehabilitation; having a yoga instructor or private chef won’t solve substance abuse problems. What’s important is developing specific skills that can help prevent going back to problematic drug use. For that, you need trained professionals and good support.
Have you ever heard anyone say that recovery comes from rock bottom? Movies like Requiem For A Dream and Trainspotting show users at their lowest point with the idea that an individual has to hit “rock bottom” before they can seek help, but this is not true. Just because a person is not ready to enter rehab does not mean they have not reached their lowest point. Many people start seeking the help they need when something else, such as family, friends, or their career, outweighs the importance of using alcohol and drugs. Putting the “rock bottom” idea in the air is not suitable for anyone; it’s dangerous because it can cause people to delay treatment.
In the film Four Good Days, you can see Glenn Close, one of the main characters choosing to close the doors on her distressed daughter, telling her she can only come back when she is “clean.” This can be seen as tough love, where a person acts harshly to help in the long term. Keeping someone out of the house for refusing rehab, refusing to help with money for food if an individual is still using, or even refusing to pick them up if they are intoxicated are all examples that can be thought of as tough love. Even though tough love might come with good intentions, it doesn’t work all the time. Often it makes things worse or even harmful for someone in need. Instead, one should explore better ways to set boundaries while maintaining relationships that can provide recovery support.
In some movies, we see the main character who tries a drug for the first time and spirals into uncontrolled drug use. Not only do these dramatics save time in the plot, but they also leave an impression that addiction happens after one use, which is invalid. In the movie Rush, Jennifer Jason Leigh is an undercover cop who is forced to use heroin to prove to a dealer that she is not, in fact, a cop. Not long after, Jennifer spirals into a well of addiction. Dependence, whether associated with drugs or alcohol, is a gradual process in which your brain and body get used to having a drug regularly. What leads to addiction/dependence is when someone tries a drug for the first time, they like it a lot, and then they use it frequently over time until they become dependent.