Turn on the TV, and you're bound to see someone who is in active addiction or in recovery. HBO's Girls, Netflix's Loved and CBS' Mom are all exploring addiction story lines. Where maybe 25 years ago, addiction and recovery were taboo topics, now, there are dozens of TV shows, movies, plays and musical acts that are portraying addiction—and recovery.
“The times are changing,” says Harry Haroutunian, physician director of the Professionals Program at the Betty Ford Center and author of Not As Prescribed: Recognizing and Facing Alcohol and Drug Misuse in Older Adults (Hazelden, 2016).
Haroutunian, in a column for The Desert Sun, gives three reasons why:
- Although 12-step programs are based in anonymity, more people, from celebrities to the person next door, are stepping out of the shadows and giving a face to recovery. This is likely due to the fact that people recognize addiction as a disease, not as a moral failing.
- Addiction story lines can be quite dramatic. However, so can recovery. And the entertainment value isn't lost on Hollywood. “A growing number of producers, directors, writers and actors embrace their recovery—and now aren’t afraid to admit to the world that alcohol and other drugs were problematic for them and, in fact, may have ruined their lives,” Haroutunian says. “They yearn to share the types of miracles that recovery brings into their lives.”
- Recovery teaches people to be better. “Recovery doesn’t end conflicts but shows us how to get through them,” Haroutunian says. “Recovery doesn’t instantly instill trust but shows us how we earn it back. Recovery doesn’t give us a perfect personality but helps us identify where and when we’re falling short.”
With more media where recovery is the major theme, more people will see recovery as being normal and cool, Haroutunian says.
“It’s cooler to show up and function and engage, rather than to harm one’s self and others,” he says “Imagine that. Now imagine what might happen in generations to come.”