We live in a country where the attitude about people who struggle with substance use issues is one of disdain, disbelief and disregard. When Jeff Foote and I opened CMC, one of our main goals was to change this. The negative stigma associated with substance use issues, the lack of information about effective treatment options, and the lack of trained professionals in those treatments is a something that we saw and continue to see as a major problem in our society. That is why we have maintained the mission of helping to change the conversation about substance use from one of stigma, defects, and shame to one of hope, understanding, and the science of change. That is also why I am proud to have been part of HBO’s documentary Risky Drinking, which is one step in helping to make that conversation change possible.
I hope that Risky Drinking will help put a relatable face to the problem.The reality is that almost everyone knows someone who has at one point, and maybe currently, struggled with their use of alcohol. And many parts of our culture support and encourage heavy alcohol use with no accountability to the devastating problems that it can cause for people. Understanding the way that alcohol use is sewn into the very fabric of our everyday lives is one way to help reduce the misunderstandings and biases around those who are struggling with their substance use. The reality is that people can cycle in and out of a problematic relationship with alcohol or the course of a lifetime.
I think the documentary provides a glimpse into how alcohol affects people’s lives while also providing good information about how alcohol affects the brain and the body. It’s a great resource for schools and parents to hopefully educate young people on the potential downside of heavy drinking and I think the people in the film provided an unbelievable public service in sharing their stories. I’m proud to have been a part of it and I encourage everyone to take some time to watch it, even with someone who is struggling themselves. Perhaps it can help provide a little empathy and understanding, and help open up the avenues to change.