I just watched the Will Smith film “Hancock”, just released on DVD. At the opening of the film, John Hancock is a down-and-out alcoholic. We first see him lying dirty and unshaven on a park bench surrounded by empty bottles. When he is woken up and alerted to some nefarious goings-on into which he really ought to intervene, he first needs to take a large swig from the bottle he had clasped in his hand as he slept. He then flies off, destroying the park bench in the process. One of the four questions in the CAGE test used to determine whether someone has an alcohol problem is whether they drink early in the morning, so Hancock was certainly an alcoholic by that definition.
What is an alcoholic? Dylan Thomas said, “An alcoholic is a man you don’t like who drinks as much as you do.” Many people calling LawCare’s helpline perceive an alcoholic to be someone wearing a grubby coat who lives in a doorway and swigs from a bottle of supermarket cider all day. Others are terrified that the term might apply to them, and come up with all sorts of reasons why it doesn’t, or give up alcohol for a week or so just to prove that they are not alcoholic. They don’t want to believe that addiction is something that can happen to them. But the fact is that anyone can be an alcoholic. Your senior partner. Your best friend. Your mother. You. You may be a high-flying successful lawyer, but Hancock demonstrates that even super heroes can be alcoholics, and you can’t get much more high flying than that.
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