Alcohol Addiction



Thefilm “The Lost Weekend” is among the early artistic works thataddressed the issue of alcohol addiction at a time when other filmscould not dare to address this social and health menace. The maincharacters include Don Birnam, the addict, Helen St. James, Don’sgirlfriend, and Wick Birnam, Don’s brother. This paper will addressthe type of addiction depicted in the film, its cause, its physicaleffects, effect on work and relationships, long-term effects, ways ofconfronting the addicted person, connection between addictions, andthe possible treatment.

Alcoholismis the major type of addiction addresses in the movie. Don Birnam isan alcoholic writer who is depicted in the film as a binge drinker.Don explains to Helen, his girlfriend and Wick, his brother, that themain cause of his binge drinking is despair. Don explains that hewanted to be a writer, but his writing was not good enough. Thiscaused despair and he now drinks to counter-balance his despair.

Alcoholismhas several physical effects on the addicts. For example, Don usesincoherent speech, whenever he is drunk. The viewer of the film cannotice the difference in Don’s speech when he is drunk and when heis not drunk. In addition, Don’s eyes change and appear slightlyred and sleepy. He looks weak and staggers after drinking. It is alsoevident that Don often gets unconscious after binge drinking. Hisbrother, Wick explains that he had gotten him (Don) out of the gutternot once.

Alcoholaddiction makes work and relationships difficult. It affects both theaddicted person and those who care for the addict. For example, Helenand Wick have to stop their work to take care of Don, who is themajor addict in the film. This continues to an extent that Wick feelslike giving up. Wick states that he has been taking care of Don forthe past six years and had his berry full. This means that Don’salcoholism has started weakening the strong relationship between thetwo brothers. Although Helen is forgiving and loving, Don withdrawshimself from her and denies her the romantic relationship that she islooking for. For example, Don persuades Wick to spend the afternoonwith Helen so that he can sneak some alcohol to drink during theweekend trip, instead of spending more time with his girlfriend.

Donis well informed about the long-term health effects of hisalcoholism. He states that alcohol will shrink his liver, pickle hiskidney, and affect his mind. However, he thinks that these effectswill make him a human who is above the ordinary people.

Themost appropriate way of confronting the addicted person is to showthem love and concern. Once they are convinced that someone cares forthem, one can then inquire about the reasons behind their bingedrinking. From the film, Helen and Wick take care of Don for sixyears before he finally informs them that he drinks to counter thedespair caused by the failed dream of becoming a writer.

Additionsthat lead to similar pleasurable effects are often connected to eachother. For example, both nicotine and alcohol are associated with thefeeling of pleasure and relief from despair, which increases the riskof mutual craving for cigarettes and alcohol (Glicksman, 2011). Fromthe film, Don is depicted as an alcohol addict, but a statement madeby Helen that a cigarette might fall out of his mouth and burn him inbed indicates that he is also suffering from nicotine addiction.

Alcoholaddiction can be treated through the twelve step program, which takesthe addicts from the stage of accepting they are powerless to thelast of stage of integrating the basic principles of therapy into allof their affairs. This program is also applicable to other types ofaddiction, such as smoking (Recovery Organization, 2015).

Inconclusion, the film “the Lost Weekend” uses motion pictures toinform much about the experiences of alcohol addicts and people whocare for them. Although addicts are surrounded by loving people theytend to run away from them. Despair and unfulfilled dreams are thekey risk factors for alcoholism. The twelve-step therapeutic programtakes the alcoholic from one step to another in order to help themrecover completely and reduce chances of relapse.


Glicksman,E. (2011). The link between smoking and drinking. UnitedHealthcare Service Incorporation.Retrieved July 18, 2015, from

RecoveryOrganization (2015). About the smokers anonymous 12 step recoveryprogram. RecoveryOrganization.Retrieved July 18, 2015, from