Louis Theroux: Drinking to Oblivion – The DVDfever Review

Louis Theroux Louis Theroux‘s latest documentary, Drinking to Oblivion, sets out its stall quite simply for what is a very complex subject, often with no clear answers. He talks to a handful of patients who have checked in to King’s College Hospital, London, a specialist liver centre, where they sometimes have to receive bad news about their prognosis.

It began with a pre-credits clip of a young man of 32 called Joe who, in a clip brought forward from later on in the programme, was aching to experience the sensation of vodka going down his throat “for one last time”. His life had hit the skids when he didn’t get the job he wanted, he couldn’t handle rejection and he hit the bottle hard. He stated that he wanted to get free of alcohol, and at one point had done that and moved on from alcohol to an addiction to sweets, but then he ended up in this situation again.

Then there was Pieter with his long-suffering girlfriend Mariana. Peter was in hospital again after having drunk 1½ litres of vodka in 24 hours. His father had recently passed away. I also had a friend and colleague who would often go on a session. He took it hard when his father passed away in 2001. I went to work in a different office in 2003 and lost touch with him, but reconnected in late 2007 by which point it looked like he was starting to get his life together again. Sadly, in January 2008, I learned that he’d passed away due to ‘natural causes’, but I knew, deep down, what the real cause was.

Of course, alcohol addiction doesn’t just affect men, as there was Oriele (above-right with Louis), a woman approaching 45 who drinks up to 7 cans a day of 8.4% strength cider, partly to just feel stable, and also has a boyfriend who’s clearly not helping as he also downs many cans daily, albeit of a lower-strength lager. She spent three weeks alcohol-free last year, but she feels it’s like “you’re going to war and you’re not winning”. She also asked Louis how he feels seeing her like this, to which he replied, “I think you deserve a better life”.

We also saw their detox ward, helping addicts get off alcohol with medical supervision – a process that can take about a week, where they are assigned a clinical nurse specialist to help break the addiction. However, many of these featured have had frequent admissions to hospital and the programme highlighted the fact that you can’t keep going for treatment as the body won’t take it on a permanent basis, and also on a psychological basis so that it doesn’t see the process of admittance as a temporary cure-all.

Louis Theroux: Drinking to Oblivion was very depressing to watch but it’s also essential to watch to highlight the problem. Alcoholism is an addiction and an illness and anyone seeking treatment needs a strong support network of friends and/or relatives. I urge anyone in this situation to seek help ASAP, but I know from personal experience that the person suffering has to WANT to be helped, as I saw that and smoking destroy my father over many years.

I can’t really give this programme a mark out of ten, as I normally do, as it’s not that sort of programme. It’s something that has to be watched by everyone. I don’t know if Louis has made a documentary on smoking before as I haven’t seen many of his in the past, but I would like him to also do that as it is another unforgiving addiction. Yes, everyone knows that smoking is bad, but for a heavy smoker to give up successfully is a nigh-on impossible task. Again, they have to want to do it. My father was in hospital a number of times, for a few weeks at a time. Once, he claimed he’d never smoked again and gave me his cigarettes to throw away. On discharge, I went to see him a few days later and he was sat there smoking away as if nothing had happened. That’s addiction.

Louis Theroux: Drinking to Oblivion isn’t yet scheduled for a DVD release (although many other of his documentaries already are), but if you missed this one, you can watch it on BBC iPlayer, up until April 24th, and click on the top image for the full-size version.

Louis Theroux: Drinking to Oblivion – Joe (opening clip)

Overall: Essential viewing

Producer/Director: Tom Barrow
Series Producer: Jamie Pickup
Writer/Presenter: Louis Theroux

Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.


You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.
Powered by WordPress | Designed by: wordpress themes 2012 | Thanks to Download Premium WordPress Themes, Compare Premium WordPress Themes and

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers: