Return of “Madmen”

The highly hyped return of “Madmen” led to the inevitable reviews that link the show’s popularity in part to audience fascination with drinking and smoking behaviors that can be depicted in a 1960’s period piece but are too politically incorrect to make it into scripts today.

But it’s really not simple.  The series is actually a complex look at contemporary America through the tinted lens of a different era, a fascinating blend of character studies that remind viewers that the calendar may change but people do not.   And in some characters, including adman Don Draper, the series provides a detailed look at the bewildering descent into alcoholism that no reality TV show could ever capture.

The days of office liquor bars and three martini lunches are largely gone but one in six Americans admit to “binge drinking” even as they tend, the Centers for Disease Control says, to under report how much they drink and why.  The Draper character is seen doing much the same thing during a scene involving an insurance physical even while his life spins out of control.

If only heavy drinking was really just a vestige of the “good old days.”  But the latest research indicates otherwise.  And researchers know they are only capturing about 30 per cent of alcohol consumption based on sales.  Illinois ranks among the states with the highest reported incidence of binge drinking.  Nearly one in four drinkers here has at least five or more drinks at a time. They are not all alcoholics, of course, but many will wait until they are before they confront what is all too often obvious to those around them.

What is not always so obvious is the collateral damage.  But that is part of what separates “Madmen” from a host of TV shows and movies that try to tackle a subject no one really wants to discuss.  Every character in the cast must deal with drinking and its consequences just as many Americans must today.  In the 1960’s, as it is now, the course of least resistance creates more problems than it avoids.  The CDC says 80,000 Americans will die this year from alcohol related deaths, more people than have lost their lives in combat in the four wars this country has fought over the last fifty years.

But what the writers in “Madmen” capture so masterfully is the cultural context that makes all of this possible and sometimes inevitable.  The scripts don’t preach but masterfully depict the fine lines in our society that are so often invisible to those who move effortlessly from use to abuse.  Don Draper has already crossed that line but has done it with the trappings of success.  His family and co-workers know he has a problem and so does the audience.  We know this will not end well but we don’t know how.  In the meantime, we can’t help but watch a prime time icon battling alcoholism with varying degrees of empathy or fascination.

The context “Madmen” cannot provide, because it would not be historically accurate in a show so fastidiously devoted to detail, is that there is so much we have learned about addiction since the Kennedy and Johnson years.    There are a myriad of treatments available now that simply did not exist in the 1960’s or even the 1990’s.  Don appears destined to end up alone with a bottle but for millions of Americans struggling with alcohol and drug addiction there are options from medication to therapy and treatment.

“Madmen” is not a morality play but it brilliantly underlines the fact that addiction is not a moral issue.

Helping Women Recover from Addiction – Gateway Foundation Sponsored Workshop

Gateway Foundation Alcohol & Drug Treatment is proud to extend a rare development opportunity to our valued professional partners. To help advance understanding of substance abuse treatment for women, Gateway has invited clinician and women’s treatment specialist Dr. Stephanie S. Covington, Ph.D., L.C.S.W., to lead a two-day training workshop in Chicago with a focus on “Helping Women Recover.”

The workshop will be held April 19 and 20, 2012 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Adler School of Professional Psychology, located at 17 N. Dearborn St., Chicago, IL 60602.

12 CEU credits can be earned by professionals for LCSW, LSW, LCPC, LPC, NADAAC, and IAODAPCA (CADC).

About the Workshop
There is growing evidence documenting the impact of child neglect and abuse (as well as other forms of trauma) on Helping Women Recover: A Program for Treating Addictionwomen’s health, mental health and behavior. Workshop attendees will learn about the history of women’s treatment, current theoretical perspectives, the treatment environment and treatment strategies.

Based on Dr.Covington’s curriculum, Helping Women Recover: A Program for Treating Addiction, the two-day workshop takes a closer look at the comprehensive treatment model for women, integrating theories of addiction, psychological development and trauma. The women’s recovery training covers: key issues of self, relationships, sexuality and spirituality, in addition to the therapeutic techniques for dealing with these issues.

About Dr. Stephanie Covington
For more than 25 years, Dr. Covington’s work has focused on the creation of gender-responsive and trauma-informed services. Her extensive experience includes designing women’s services at the Betty Ford Center, developing programs for women in criminal justice settings and being the featured therapist on the Oprah Winfrey Network TV show entitled “Breaking Down the Bars.” She has also served as a consultant to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Vienna and was selected for the Federal Advisory Council on Women’s Services.

Educated at Columbia University and the Union Institute, Dr. Covington has served on the faculties of the University of Southern California, San Diego State University, and the California School of Professional Psychology. She has published extensively, including six gender-responsive, trauma-informed treatment curricula. Dr. Covington is based in La Jolla, California, where she is co-director of both the Institute for Relational Development and the Center for Gender and Justice.

To make the training as accessible as possible, Gateway is extending this invaluable opportunity to select partners at the cost of $250 per person; please note, space is limited and available on a first come first serve basis.

To make a reservation contact:

Dr. Phil Welches, Gateway Foundation Alcohol & Drug Treatment Clinical Director
Phone (312) 913-2319

How do you cope when someone you love is struggling with alcohol abuse?

Don’t stay in the dark about drinking and drugs – the more you understand about the facts, the greater your understanding will be about what someone’s going through, and how he or she can overcome it.

If you’re not sure what kind of drug an individual is using, or whether one has an addiction, education will help you recognize certain behavior patterns or health issues an individual may have that are associated with different types of substances and addictions.

Determine If You Are Safe

Sometimes people can behave unpredictably when they drink or take drugs. Their moods and actions can become erratic, which at best can be embarrassing or frustrating for friends and family, but at worst can become aggressive or violent. You have the right to put your safety and the well-being of your family first.

If you’re living with a person whose substance abuse or addiction behavior puts your safety at risk, consider having a back up plan. That plan may include arranging with family or friends to stay with them, or knowing where you can go in your community if an emergency arises.

Substance Abuse is a Disease

It is important to realize that substance abuse is a disease. The person who is truly addicted is not able to take control of this problem without professional help. As a loved one, you cannot stop the individual’s substance abuse. Families can, however, avoid covering it up or doing things that make it easy for the person to continue the denial. Encourage your family member or friend to get the treatment needed through a professional licensed treatment provider or family physician.

Talking to Someone Who Is Abusing Drugs or Alcohol

Perhaps you feel upset, angry, frustrated or even ashamed about someone’s problem. Whatever you’re going through, it’s okay to feel the way you do. What’s more, it’s often worth talking to the person about your feelings – being honest may even encourage one to open up to you about underlying emotions, too. When you talk with someone about drinking and drug use, listen and respect what he or she has to say. It may also help the individual to face up to the problem. If someone shuts you down initially, it may be more difficult to get him or her to open up later. Just listen.

Educating yourself can be the best way to help someone. Here are some additional things you can do when learning about substance abuse:
> Make Time for Yourself
> Figuring Out Who Is To Blame
> Co-Dependency and Enabling

This article is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice from a professional. If you or someone you know may be in danger of harming themselves or someone else, please dial 9-1-1 immediately.

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