I’ve been to around twenty AA meetings in the last two months. There are many things I’ve come to like about AA, and a fair number of things I dislike about the program. Going to the meetings, I find I learn a fair bit about myself, and a lot about others. Many of the meetings (if not all?) read How it works near the beginning of the meeting, and some even make parts of it a call-and-response. I don’t particularly like the reading in general, but there’s one phrase that stands out in my experience of AA: “Remember that we deal with alcohol—cunning, baffling, powerful!” (those last three words are sometimes called out as a response to the beginning).
That’s the most significant word for me. In the one score meetings I’ve been to, the stories people shared have had common themes, and nearly all of those themes could be summed up in that one word: cunning–having or showing skill in achieving one’s ends by deceit or evasion. People of all walks of life have experienced a wide variety of impacts from consuming alcohol. Bright, accomplished people have consumed more than they knew was good for them. Smart people have sworn off drinking for decades. And yet, alcohol finds a way back into their lives. Alcohol, if I may personify the chemical compound, invites itself into their minds, reminds them of the good times they’ve had together (or the pain that it helped to alleviate), and convinces them that it’ll be OK to have just one drink.
One man at a recent meeting told about his decade long sobriety that ended with “just a glass of wine”. Less than a week later, he was in prison for three years, directly because of alcohol. This is just one anecdote of the dozens I’ve heard like it. And I’ve been to just a handful of meetings in my mid-sized city.
Lest you think I’m guilty of confirmation bias, I assure you I don’t think alcohol has this impact on everyone. Maybe not even most. Honestly, I’m not worried about the statistics of the impact alcohol has on people’s lives–it is very well documented.
What I’m interested in are the stories of that impact: the people who have been hurt, the lives that have been shattered, the attempts at recovery, as well as the people who manage to swear it off for good.
So I’ve been kicking around the idea of making a documentary of sorts. My goal is to tell the stories of alcohol’s impact on people’s lives, and hopefully have people rethink their relationship with the cunning substance. I’m not done formulating a plan, and I’m not even sure if I want it to be a “web series” where each story can be posted individually, or it if will be a finished single movie. Details, details, details.
I want to start with interviews of people whose lives have been impacted by alcohol in any way. Where I go from there, I don’t know yet. If you’re interested in helping with this project, please let me know. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org (just be sure to remove the 7).