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Big Brother 3: Amy’s Drinking, Reduxby Sophy Patterson -- 09/06/2002
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While watching Big Brother last night, I had to get up and walk away from the TV. I couldn’t watch the opening montage. Why? One word: Amy.
In my earlier piece before Amy was voted out the first time, I said that I knew right away that Amy was an alcoholic. It’s a type of “radar” that people in recovery have. We can see ourselves in someone who is active. Their story might be different, and their drink of choice may be different (mine was zinfandel with vodka shots). But we are all the same. We are addicted to something.
It’s not like being addicted to watching Big Brother or American Idol. Alcohol is a nasty mistress. It starts out small, and most people can control it. An alcoholic cannot. They continue to drink and drink, not realizing the problem, the hurt they are causing to other people; I should clarify that some people do know the hurt but choose to ignore it – or perhaps drink even more to make that hurt go away.
I don’t know what makes a person an alcoholic. Some people are certainly predisposed to it, by genetics or whatnot. I know that some also seem to come from a long line of Narcissist personality types, the type of person who feels that he/she is always on stage and has to be the center of attention. Sound like anybody you see on TV? I don’t know enough psychology to say if these two run together. I think they do.
But given the debate on the message boards about whether or not Amy is a true alcoholic, I still think she is. She is following every classic behavior pattern of an alcoholic. Begging for drinks is but one sign.
I took this list of signs from the AA web page. These are 12 questions they ask people if they think they are having problems with their drinking. These are more detailed on the AA page.
I am not a shrink, but I think someone can honestly say that several of these questions appear to apply to Amy. Some of them might apply to other people reading them. I don’t know what to tell you if that is the case; AA is great but it does not work for everyone. I stopped drinking because it was taking more and more alcohol to get me drunk, and eventually the only thing that would get me drunk was pouring grain alcohol into my orange juice. It is a miracle I didn’t die and only had alcohol poisoning. I only drank at home – never around people, because I didn’t want anyone see me staggering around my apartment like Amy was doing, glass in hand, swishing every way. Falling down and laughing – that was another good one. Once I fell on my glass, cutting my knee with the shards of glass. I thought it was a riot as I lay on the carpet, bleeding. Oh yeah. Real Funny.
There is a belief in the AA rooms that someone has to hit bottom before they get better. Everyone has a different bottom. Some people take years to hit it, some people months. Some people lose their house, their spouse, their children, their job. For others it could be just the hangover from hell and being ashamed of their behavior when they drink. Drinking does cause a Jeckyll/Hyde metamorphosis in those it touches. An ordinary person might find they get a bit happier and feel a bit looser. The tongue may also get looser and things may be said that normally wouldn’t be. Again, every person is different, and every drink affects someone differently. Perhaps Amy’s bottom will be seeing herself from last night’s show. I watch the live feeds, and see the houseguests are really concerned about her. They feel helpless. It was so painful to watch.
The purpose of this piece was to educate about drinking, and try to explain it a bit. If anyone reading this has any questions, contact AA in your phone book, or check out their website. Ask your primary care physician, or even a member of the clergy. A lot of AA meetings take place in churches and synagogues. If someone in your family drinks, call Al-Anon.
I want to say one more thing here. AA may not work for everyone. What kept me sober is not a belief in God or Higher Power. It was knowing how stupid I looked like and how much I ended up hurting people I loved. I take my sobriety one day at a time, and some days it is difficult. Some days I do crave it. September 26, 1995, was the day I had my last drink. I do feel blessed. And life is fine sober. I hope if Amy needs help, she seeks it as soon as she gets out of the Big Brother house.
Sophy Patterson is a pseudonym. Her candid writing on her drinking and subsequent sobriety, as well as other pieces, can be found here. Any comments about this piece can be forwarded to the editors of either website. Her only reason for writing this piece is to educate and hopefully save one person.
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