Can’t bear to watch? Drinking to Oblivion

Many of you will have seen by now that BBC 2 aired the fantastic Drinking to Oblivion documentary on Sunday. Louis Theroux cast his unique film-making style over the subject of alcohol addiction, and invited us into the world of patients being treated at King’s College Hospital. Thought provoking, shocking, and at times uncomfortable to watch, Theroux’s work has sparked debate about our own relationships with alcohol. We have selected some of the best of the conversation.

“This is a reality in modern Britain”

Henry Northmore, The List

“Theroux’s low impact style encourages people to open up and tell their own story. Most of his interviewees are surprisingly eloquent, philosophical and self-aware of their own predicament. Drinking to Oblivion finds people at their lowest ebb but never feels exploitive. This is a reality in modern Britain, an important issue that many would prefer to ignore. And Theroux uncovers humanity in the darkest places, turning statistics into people.”

“There is some hope”

Kasia Delgado, Radio Times

“There’s a depressing but revealing scene where she introduces Louis to her new boyfriend. The way she lets Gary, who clearly isn’t very happy either, treat her shows just how little she believes she’s worth. Near the end of the film, she asks Louis what he thinks of alcoholics like her. He says what we’re all thinking; ‘I think you deserve a better life.’

But for all the heart-wrenching, shocking moments, there is some hope here too. As Louis says in the closing moments of the film, ‘for some it’s terminal, for some change can happen.’”

“It made me think about my own alcohol consumption”

Sam Wollaston, The Guardian

“You may not know many gun-toting survivalists or neo-Nazis, but you will almost certainly know some serious drinkers, and know what alcohol is doing to their health, and to the NHS. Maybe you are one; certainly it made me think (worry) about my own alcohol consumption.”

“It’s a thin line”

Club Soda Member, on Facebook

“Just watched it. So glad I made the decision to quit. The amount of alcohol they were claiming they drank was half the amount I drank. Joe’s case made me appreciate how lucky I was to have the support of my family and partner to help me through it. A good documentary and we must all keep this firmly in our minds. It’s a thin line.”

“I am more afraid of stopping than I am of death”

Calum Armstrong, VolteFace

“Aurelie takes it one day at a time, living at the beck and call of the bottle and the can. In some of the most sobering (and I use that word sincerely) footage you will see this year, she expresses absolute insouciance during a visit to the Doctor, where she is told in no uncertain terms that she will not have long left to live, should she continue to drink. ‘I am more afraid of stopping [drinking] then I am of death’ – she confesses to Theroux. In fact, such is the prison of alcoholism, that quitting drink appears to be almost as much of a threat to Theroux’s subjects then staying on the sauce, given the notoriously unpleasant effects of detox providing the rock to alcohol’s hard place.”

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