Not Your Mama’s Drama
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Not Your Mama’s Drama


Not Your Mama’s DramaIf there’s one thing alcoholics and addicts love, it’s drama. We love to hear it, we love to watch it and until we get real recovery, we love to be in it. An example of the kind of drama we gravitate toward in the beginning? When the guy you’re dating from your home group dumps you and starts hooking up with the chick with the coffee commitment, you vow to never grace that meeting again. Good times.

This is not, of course, the same thing as incorporating recovery into drama—something that seems to be happening more and more.

ABC Family to the Recovery Rescue

ABC Family recently announced that they picked up a television pilot based on Blake Shelton’s novel Recovery Road, which is about a teenage girl who enters rehab for her drinking and anger issues. While I’m a little surprised that such a family-oriented channel would take a risk on a series focused around a taboo subject like teen substance abuse, I think it’s brilliant and a step in the right direction.

“Every high school kid knows someone who ‘parties’ to the point where it stops being fun and starts to be dangerous and a problem,” Blake Shelton told AfterPartyChat exclusively. “So this is a very relevant subject. The story has a lot of potential for drama and romance so I will be very excited to see what they do with the pilot. I can’t wait to see it.”

A Real Public Service

I’m pretty excited to see it, too. See, I grew up in the 80s—an era fueled by cocaine, new wave pop and afterschool specials. With momentum from the War on Drugs and Nancy Reagan’s Just Say No, television became inundated with public service commercials like, “This Is Your Brain on Drugs,” the iconic anti-drug campaign from Partnership for a Drug-Free America. But it was the dramatic movies-of-the-week showing things like a high school swim team star who secretly binge and purges or a new kid at school who turns to pot and pills and the Ramones because no one understands him that were the real learning tools for me. While I still made the choice to drink and do drugs, I always had a sense of impending doom when I used to excess that I know came from the messages in these films.

I’ll never forget this episode of Hunter that opened with a pretty blond high school girl who invited some older boys over to hang out while she was babysitting. At first, they just listened to music and danced in the living room. But then one of the boys broke out a vile of cocaine. I’ll never forget how scary that vial looked to me and the hollow sound it made as the boy tapped it against the glass coffee table. The girl hesitated at first but when the boys wouldn’t take no for an answer, she conceded. They then launch into a drug-induced montage that ended in gang rape. The boys took off and the girl was eventually found dead. After that, I don’t think I ever invited a group of older boys over to the house where I was babysitting. Or at least if I did, I made sure not to do cocaine with them.

For You Theater Lovers

But if you aren’t into television drama, there’s always Pass It On: An Evening with Bill W. and Dr. Bob, a live play about the history of AA and a breakdown of the 12 steps which is currently on in San Antonio, Texas. Once an Off-Broadway production, the show has scaled down to two actors who are playing the co-founders of AA, Bill W. and Dr. Bob. The idea behind the smaller show is to have the opportunity to travel and of carry the message of 12-step recovery to a wider audience through the use of drama, humor and cost efficiency. And hey, since one of the play’s actors, Gary Kimble, came up with the idea of putting on the play in San Antonio when he was in town for an AA Conference, there’s every chance it could soon be coming to a town near you.

Entertainment is a powerful tool for education since it’s almost a way to trick people into absorbing information. Also, since people learn in different ways, some may find visual storytelling more effective than just reading or listening. And a funny stage play or engaging television series is certainly a lot more enjoyable than sitting in a classroom and watching video clips of PSA’s.

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About Author

Danielle Stewart is a Los Angeles-based writer and recovering comedian. She has written for Showtime, E!, and MTV, as well as print publications such as Us Weekly and Life & Style Magazine. She returned to school and is currently working her way towards a master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. She loves coffee, Law & Order SVU, and her emotional support dog, Benson.