The latest remake of "A Star Is Born" can convince the already-troubled that addiction is a small price to pay for success - even if that success peters out.
From the get-go, music star Jackson Maine had a tough go of it.
His mother died when he was born.
His father was a drunk.
His older brother who looked out for him was one of those guys we met in high school who had a sense of direction and determination that we less emotionally and socially didn't. Of course, we couldn't bond.
In his early teens, Jackson even attempted suicide by hanging but the ceiling fan gave way. He fell to the floor. Later, his hanging himself with a belt in the garage does succeed.
So, the message of the film could be interpreted as: Without booze and pills, Jackson could never had been able to put it together to develop into a performer.
That could be way too seductive to youth whom the universe didn't bless with a loving, non-chaotic start in life.
Not surprisingly - who hasn't been exposed to the Alcoholics Anonymous mantra - the substances took him over. Another factor was simple aging. The years aren't kind to most of those in the performing arts. We content-providers have it easier and a longer shelf life.
But, along the way, Jackson had it all. That included the authentic love of struggling song-writer/singer Ally. That's more than many of us from difficult backgrounds are able to grab onto from life. Currently, I continue to struggle.
A sort of heretic in a recovery program for alcohol abuse, way back in the early 80s I declared that boozing bought me time. In its predictable way it empowered me to function until I could access the tools I needed to create my own life. Eventually, as with Jackson, its role was counterproductive. I was fortunate. I could and did stop. I stayed stopped.
So, what do members of law enforcement, the courts, high school guidance counselors, college mental health therapists, recovery experts, researchers, friends, and family tell at-risk youth and kids already in trouble about the dangers embedded in substance abuse?
That's the rub.
How can they replace the "help" which addiction seems to be delivering at the time? Already, youth probably knows that the success rate of traditional program Alcoholics Anonymous is quite low. Here is the iconic The Atlantic article on that. Most courts route substance abusers to that mode of treatment: X amount of meetings a week and have the attendance verification document signed.
Meanwhile, the whatever which does create and reinforce sobriety is less available in 2018. That includes affording college, being able to pony up the rent to live away from the toxic nuclear family, landing work with a future, and hope.
Those committed to rescuing youth from despair have to reimagine their message. That could start by analyzing how Jackson could have prevented the start of his addiction or could have found a sustainable way out of it. Love, obviously, was not enough.
In that other new film "Unbroken," that path is giving up the illusion of control and surrendering to some higher force.
As the uncontained opioid epidemic hammers, traditional approaches aren't effective. The times are different from when the recovery movement has been launched in the 1930s. Yet, there has been no Big Woke.
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