Premieres Monday, December 19 at 8 PM ET/PT on HBO
“Risky Drinking” offers a new perspective on alcohol use disorder, along with challenging viewers to think about their drinking this holiday season. Nearly one-third of adults in the U.S. engage in problem drinking at some point in their lives. Health professionals assess drinkers at risk on a spectrum ranging from low risk to an alcohol use disorder that can range from mild to severe. This holiday season, HBO and the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism present RISKY DRINKING, which challenges viewers to recognize when their drinking may be putting them at risk and offers information that could help millions of Americans lead healthier lives.
Through case studies and expert analysis, this timely documentary investigates the broad spectrum of risky drinking at different ages and stages in people’s lives, including: a young professional whose weekend binge drinking exacerbates her fragile emotional state; a single mom whose drinking has gone beyond the social level; an ex-pat whose heavy drinking finds him on the cusp of losing his son and wife; and a young grandfather whose physical dependence may cost him his life.
In addition, addiction experts explain the science behind alcohol use disorder, as well as providing stunning statistics about its prevalence and hazards. These experts discuss the specific risks and treatment options for drinkers along the spectrum, from behavioral and pharmacotherapeutic, to support groups for moderation and abstinence. Among the medical professionals interviewed are: George Koob, director, National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism; Carrie Wilkens, clinical director, Center for Motivation & Change; and Stephen Ross, director, Addiction Psychiatry, NYU Langone Medical Center.
Kenzie, a young Denver professional who sometimes binge drinks with her friends on weekends as a social lubricant and to “turn off her brain” after a stressful workweek. During one holiday weekend, on the heels of a difficult breakup, she consumes well over ten drinks a night, leading to an emotional breakdown. Binge drinking, or having four to five (or more) drinks in a single episode, accounts for more than half the alcohol consumed by adults in the U.S., with most of those at risk between the ages of 18 and 34.
Mike, who tries to build a new life and career in St. Thomas. As his visiting teenage son notes, however, his daily schedule often involves drinking. With his current marriage hanging by a thread after a series of dangerous “drinking incidents,” Mike decides to enter rehab. But a trip to see his wife beforehand finds him drunk once more, leading his wife to walk out. Unwilling to give up drinking completely, Mike participates in a 90-day program to help moderate his alcohol use, but after a relapse, he questions if he’s ready.
Rhonda, who uses alcohol as a “coping mechanism” for the stress of raising a family, and participates in a weekly happy hour with friends to let off steam. She has become increasingly concerned about her friend Noel, a divorced mother of two who uses wine as an “escape” from her negative feelings surrounding her ex. As Noel starts to lose the ability to control her drinking, Rhonda encourages her friend to try a treatment called moderation management before it’s too late.
Neal, a father of two grown children, who is currently on his second marriage, and risks losing everything from years of alcoholism. He struggles to function physically without alcohol, suffering withdrawal tremors. When his wife Kathy finds him drinking in the parking lot of the grocery store where he works part-time, she convinces him to go to the hospital for detox. A month later, a sober Neal feels he’s getting a second chance to stay sober for his grandson – but his sobriety doesn’t last. Having been in and out of rehab and detox 12 times in four years, Neal prepares to try one more time by entering a 35-day residential program.