Addiction and the movies

Film Strip

Alcohol and drug addiction always seem to create drama. The movie “Saving Mr. Banks” by Disney parallels the young life of P.L. Travers ,the author of Mary Poppins, with the attempts of Disney Studios to get her in her later life to release the rights to her story and then to allow Disney to tell it. The viewer is caught up with the strong relationship she has with her father, which is taken away from her by a combination of alcoholism and presumably T.B. This relationship provides the emotional energy for her to write the stories and is at the heart of her resistance in letting the story go. She doesn’t want his image tarnished.

For children growing up with addiction in their parents, they learn to adapt to the unpredictability of this life. Some grow up too soon and end up parenting their dysfunctional parents, some learn to hide from the rages, and some go out to become the heroes to distract from the shame at home. According to the film P.L.Travers did a little of all of it. The film pictures her mother as someone who is overwhelmed by what is happening to her husband and her family but is alone in the outback and has few resources and at one point considers suicide. Hence develops the desperation of the spouse of the person with addiction.

So when we see someone who is actively addicted, we need to be aware of the impact of that addiction on their children and their spouses who may not know where to turn or be aware that there is help. Or, out of shame, the family may act to prevent anyone from tarnishing the image of their family member and avoid seeking help for the person.

Addiction is an illness. It needs to be respected like any other illness. It can be treated and people recover. Its treatment is covered by most health care plans. Lack of treatment leads to increased medical costs and personal loss. For every dollar spent on treatment, corporations estimate 7 dollars in savings due to lowered costs related to accidents, less lost work time and less employee illness.

Screening for alcoholism:


Have you Cut down your drinking?

Do you get Annoyed if people ask you how much you are drinking?

Do you ever feel Guilty about something that happened related to your drinking?

Do you ever have an Eye opener(morning drinking)

Any two of these indicates a high likelihood of having a problem with alcohol.

For drugs one can utilize similar questions. The bottom line separation between using alcohol or addictive drugs and being addicted to them is the issue of control. Continued use despite adverse consequences is the most important criteria for the need to stop drinking or using drugs.

Most treatment programs now address what is called dual diagnosis. Patients with addiction may also have co-occurring mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety or eating disorders. If present, these need to be addressed at the same time as the addiction.

Help in Santa Barbara for Adults

Inpatient detoxification and residential treatment:

Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital for Detox   682-7111, Need to enter through ER.

Cottage Residential Center for Residential 28 Day program, 687-6681

Intensive outpatient treatment for Dual Diagnosis – 3 hours per day 4 days per week

Higher Functioning Patients:

Recovery Road Medical Center 962-7800

COPE Program (part of Cottage Hospital) 569-7832

Social Model Residential treatment:

Recovery Ranch in Santa Ynez 705-7154

Severe Mentally Ill Dual Diagnosis Treatment for addiction and Mental Illness

Lower Functioning Patients:

Phoenix of Santa Barbara 965-3434

Sanctuary Psychiatric Centers 569-2785

Low Cost Inpatient Residential:

Project Recovery Social Model Detox (2 week stay) 963-1836

Santa Barbara Rescue Mission 1 year program for men 966-1316

Bethel House 1 year program for women 966-1316

Low Cost Outpatient Social Model:

Project Recovery (part of Santa Barbara Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse) 564-6057

Sober Living- Half Way Houses:

For Men: Stalwart House, New House 3, All Star Recovery, Guydance House

For Women: The Giving Tree, Casa Serena, S.O.S. Sober Living for Women

Santa Barbara Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse   963-1433

AA Central Office: Will provide meeting times and locations 962-3332

P. Joseph Frawley, MD

Co-Medical Director

Recovery Road Medical Center

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