A lot of people still believe that alcohol and addiction are completely separate, not necessarily related issues, and that one is inherently “bad” and the other is “fun,” and that if they stay “careful” and moderate their consumption and aren’t unlucky enough to have been born with the “addict gene,” then all will be good in the hood. In a nutshell, a lot of people believe that addiction doesn’t exist for them. I used to be one of those people. Until, all of a sudden, I wasn’t. And that wasn’t by choice.
Now, if you’re a fan of Keyser Soze (and who isn’t), this quote will probably ring a bell:
The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.“The Usual Suspects,” 1995
This is one of my favorite scenes from the movie “The Usual Suspects,” because I feel like Keyser Soze, as depicted here, is in a lot of ways a f*cking great metaphor for the dark side of alcohol (although… c’mon, does it really even have a “light side” anyway?).
Keyser Soze (ahem… ALCOHOL) is the bad guy hiding in the shadows, and everybody’s heard stories about the awful-horrible-very-bad-things he’s done and what a badass SOB he is, but his identity is so heavily cloaked in societal mystique that it’s easy to believe he doesn’t REALLY exist, that he’s just a sad little boogieman story people tell sometimes to scare themselves or others.
This is how alcohol is portrayed in mainstream culture. Like Keyser Soze. It has the same dark, rebellious mystique, for sure. And we as a society tend to cling to an insidious lack of belief that the evil boogieman specter of addiction will ever ACTUALLY make its way into our lives (again, like Keyser Soze). Because that’s something that happens to other people. That’s only for hard-core addicts. People with a “real problem.”
Of course, we all know on some level that alcohol is, at its core, a bad element to have in our lives. We all know it doesn’t actually IMPROVE our health or do our livers any favors. And we’ve all heard stories about someone going down a bad road with their drinking, abusing alcohol, or falling prey to the horrible “disease” of alcoholism.
Now, let me just say, I don’t subscribe to the disease model of addiction, and there is actually a lot of evidence AGAINST that model, if you take the time to do some research. Addiction is also NOT caused by some moral failing or a lack of willpower. Addiction is, quite simply, the end game that we are all hurtling toward any time we choose to partake of an addictive substance. It’s just brain science, peeps, a neurochemical response that occurs faster in some folks and slower in others. And where you are on the addiction spectrum (and if you’re drinking at ALL, you’re somewhere on the spectrum, yo) determines whether the scariness of Keyser Soze is real to you, or remains (as yet) just a myth.
Here’s the really terrifying part about all of this, though: Keyser Soze can still f*ck your sh*t up, no matter whether you believe in him or not.
And yet we as a society continue to stick our heads in the sand about him (err, I mean… about alcohol). No, in fact, it’s not just that we stick our heads in the sand. We actively do things to make him less scary, so that we can sidle up to him and let him seduce the pants off of us (before he knifes us in the gut). We dress him up in fancy clothes to make him look glitzy and fun, and we bombard ourselves and others with alcohol-centric messages designed to make us want to go out and Keyser-Soze the heck out of ourselves. (Because he’s just sooooo f*cking cool! NOT.)
And sadly, more and more alcohol advertisements are targeting women with these messages of glitz and fun, y’all, check it:
- I’ll bet you’re familiar with the wine industry’s push for “rosé all day,” since it’s pretty much as well-known a catchphrase these days as Nike’s “just do it.”
- If you keep your eyes open, you’ll no doubt see how fast “wine = mommy juice” memes continue to multiply on social media.
- Cruise the liquor aisles in the grocery store on any given day (grrr… why the f*ck do they sell liquor in Target and WalMart, people?!) and you’ll be regaled with all of the pink, feminine-looking bottles and the countless female-oriented brand/drink names that wine and liquor companies keep coming out with, like “Skinnygirl,” “Happy Bitch,” and “Be Flirty.”
Okay, so let me tell you something about this, babes. Back in my drinking days, alcohol may have made me *think* I was being flirty, but in reality (as some unfortunate pics have later shown me… see this pic on the left, for example… ugh, I’m cringing already)… I was really just doing some sloppy as f*ck alcohol-fueled leering.
And if the recipient of my sloppy leering was also partaking of a bit of the ol’ Keyser Soze… well, then maybe I’d get juuuuuust enough attention from said recipient to make me think my “flirting” had been successful. (P.S. Over time, alcohol also turned me into just about the furthest thing from a “happy bitch” or a “skinnygirl” that I could be, in case you were wondering.)
Anyway, what I’m saying is, Keyser Soze is real, y’all. Addiction is f*cking REAL. And it’s literally inevitable if you drink enough, for long enough. BELIEVE IT. And please don’t stick your head in the sand. I really want to keep as many of you as possible from having to go through the struggles I had to go through to finally leave alcohol behind.
Let’s undo the greatest trick the devil ever played when it comes to alcohol. Let’s shine some light on this bad boy, okay?