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Addiction in Popular Media

Alcoholics and addicts often feel alone in their experience. The notion that no one understands the pain, fear, and shame they experience can preclude them from admitting defeat or seeking the help they need. Popular media serves a powerful role in this context. It can create an open dialogue about the horror of addiction and provide a way for those suffering, or the people that love them, to know they are not alone, and that there is help if they ask for it.

Here are two examples, from different ends of the cultural spectrum, about the common theme of addiction and the process of recovery.

Lit, by Mary Karr.

This is Karr’s memoir. A powerful, awe-inspiring story of one woman’s descent into addiction and subsequent journey through recovery; a story of surviving childhood in an alcoholic home, only to become an alcoholic mother herself.  This amazing tale seems like it could only be fiction at times. Her mother is so off-kilter that she almost killed her daughter on more than one occasion. Karr escapes that wild world to construct her own version of an orderly life and ends up recreating the chaos of her past: a mother, in a loveless marriage, drinking each day and night despite her own best efforts to quit. She finds recovery the hard way. Not wanting to become sober, but knowing there was no other way. Her poetic prose about becoming sober is a must-read for anyone wanting to learn more the thought process inside of the mind of an active alcoholic and an alcoholic in recovery.

Starting Over, by Macklemore

Hip-Hop music is rife with rhymes about partying, drugs, booze, and the fast life. Macklemore’s song, Starting Over, is an honest account of the pain of relapse. At the time of writing the song, Macklemore had two years sobriety. He fell away from his program of recovery and discovered, in his own words that, “didn’t pick up the book…doin’ it by myself didn’t turn out that good.” He had a brief relapse on prescription cough syrup and the shame, fear, and self-loathing he describes are feelings any person who has suffered at the hands of addiction can identify with.  The central point to his lyrics is that despite his shame, he would, “rather live telling the truth and be judged for my mistakes than falsely held, given props, loved and praised.” This example of courage will hopefully provide strength to anyone struggling with the notion of getting sober or admitting the truth about a relapse. As Macklemore says, “If I can be an example of getting sober, then I can be an example of starting over.”


Books, movies, songs, TV…all these forms of media can be the springboard for a conversation with yourself or a loved one about the destruction that addiction is causing in your life. For help with drug and alcohol treatment, detox, or questions about addiction, contact the Pat Moore Foundation any time, day or night. Help is available!

Image: Flickr