Drinking to Oblivion Louis Theroux


Drinking to Oblivion

Documentary. Louis spends time at the specialist liver centre at King's College Hospital, London. He meets patients in the grips of alcohol addiction struggling to find a way out.


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Transcript


LineFromTo

I'm going to leave now.

0:00:020:00:04

Well, I would wait for the doctor.

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No, I... I think I'm going to leave.

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-I'd stay.

-You can come with me if you like.

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I would stay, Joe, I really would.

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I just want to go and get a bottle of vodka.

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What makes you think you'd like to do that?

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I like the sensation as it goes down my throat.

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And I want to experience that for one last time.

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This programme contains some strong language and some scenes which some viewers may find upsetting.

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That's why I'm leaving.

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'I'd been spending time in the world of extreme drinkers...'

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-This is Pieter.

-Pieter, Louis.

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'..getting to know people who consume alcohol, not just to excess

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'but to the point of total oblivion.'

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HE SOBS

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'My base was King's College Hospital in South London, a haven

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'for patients and families affected by life-threatening alcohol abuse.'

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-There it is.

-There it is. That is vile, isn't it?

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'I was trying to understand the mind-set of people addicted to

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'Britain's favourite drug...

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'and the difficult choices faced by those close to them.'

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-Are you OK? Are you OK?

-Yeah.

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-You're not too wobbly?

-No, I'm fine.

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'At King's A&E, I was with Pieter Swanepoel

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'and his girlfriend, Marianna.'

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How are you doing?

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To be honest, I'm not doing fine.

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-You've started drinking again?

-Yeah.

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He doesn't want to live any more. That's the new idea.

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I didn't want to live any more.

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Yeah.

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You went to South Africa for your dad, for your dad's funeral,

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-that's right, isn't it?

-Yes. Yes.

-Your dad passed away from cancer.

-Yes.

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That must have been very emotional, but you handled it, didn't you?

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And you came back and you were still sober.

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So then what happened after you got back?

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I...

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I don't know how I handled it.

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It's unbelievable.

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HE WEEPS

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How much have you had to drink, Pieter?

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Yes, Louis. I...

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I don't know. How much?

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Have one litre and a half of vodka in 24 hours.

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-One and a half litres of vodka in 24 hours.

-24 hours.

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I'm sorry, Louis.

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No, you don't need to apologise to me, Pieter.

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I can see that you've been through a lot, and it must be very difficult.

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'Pieter and Marianna had been together three years.

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'For most of the relationship, Pieter had been in a cycle of extreme

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'drinking and recovery.'

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It was on Tuesday that he relapsed, Tuesday evening, that's right?

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Yes, I found him outside almost crying. He said, "I drunk."

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He started freaking out, you know, "I need to buy drink again."

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I said, "Well, why do you need to buy drink?"

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"Because if I don't buy drink now, I'm dying."

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He finished that bottle, bought another one, and then another

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big one, and from there...

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-he keeps carrying on like that.

-How are you feeling?

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Bad. I want to give up.

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Giving up. In what sense?

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In giving up everything. Leaving...

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and going home. Going back home.

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But the problem is, I love him and we've been together three years.

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Can I just let him die for me to be better?

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-Because if I go, he's going to die.

-How do you know that?

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Because rejecting him, that's the worst thing.

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He will just drink until he dies.

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Can I come in?

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-Hi, Louis.

-How's it going?

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You don't need to get up. Make yourself comfortable.

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How are you feeling?

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I'm feeling bad, Louis.

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What was it on Tuesday that got you drinking again?

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Do you remember what it was?

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My dad.

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Remembering your dad?

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It was the sadness of losing your dad.

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I think so, Louis.

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How was your relationship with your dad?

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-Very close.

-You were very close to him?

-Yes.

-He was a good father.

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-He was a Member of Parliament in South Africa.

-Of Parliament?

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-Yes.

-Did he know about your drinking problems?

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-Yes.

-And what did he say about that?

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He said "boetie," meaning "brother" in South African,

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he said, "Just be strong."

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HE SOBS

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-I love you.

-I know you do.

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I just hope some day we're going to be all right

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and we can have a normal life without all this.

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King's is a way-station for many of South London's addicted drinkers.

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Sorry, Louis.

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My mum was trying to detox me off alcohol

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and I started projectile vomiting.

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-Right.

-Some come here in crisis following prolonged binges.

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Others - now sober - are patients in the liver unit.

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I've been naughty all my life.

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She always tells me to be good, and I don't.

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But I will be good now.

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For those still drinking self-destructively, there's

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a clinical nurse specialist to help break the addiction.

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Come on in.

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Ian Webzell was seeing an out-patient named Aurelie Fonjo.

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-Hi, are you Aurelie?

-Yes, that's right.

-Louis.

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-Nice to meet you.

-How are you?

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Not too bad, but I still have the same problems, the same issues.

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-Tell us about your current drinking, how much are you drinking?

-Well, unfortunately,

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between five to seven cans a day of 8.4 K cider.

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What's the drink? What's it called?

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K cider.

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K cider. How strong is it?

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8.4. Do you want to see it? I've got one in my bag.

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-OK. Is that OK?

-Yeah.

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That's it.

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And to be honest with you, I don't really feel nothing.

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All it does is go on the liver, and that's it.

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-Mm-hmm. It just stabilises you, maintains you.

-Yeah, yeah, yeah.

0:07:140:07:18

-Tell us about your pattern of drinking.

-The pattern is, I'm 44, I've been drinking

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since I was 13 years old, 14.

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I was brought up in Paris,

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and the first drink was Champagne, I was drinking Champagne.

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And that's a good buzz.

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So, describe how you wake up, how you physically

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and mentally are when you're in withdrawal of alcohol.

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When I wake up, I'm glad I'm alive.

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After, it's like the shakes start, and then

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I start going around like a rat in a cage...until I have my first drink,

0:07:450:07:50

sit down and calm my state of mind. Yeah.

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-Have you ever tried to detox?

-Yeah.

0:07:550:07:59

We done detox five times.

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Ian, you remember times when Aurelie was alcohol-free last year?

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-Last year, you had three weeks alcohol-free, I remember.

-Yeah, yeah.

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How was that? Did you enjoy that?

0:08:100:08:12

I just... It looks like...

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Like I said, you know, you're going to war and you're not winning.

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It's ridiculous.

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I mean, it's not life, it's not a life, really, to be honest.

0:08:220:08:25

Yeah.

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Detoxing from severe alcohol addiction can be extremely dangerous.

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If attempted without medical help, it can lead to seizures and even death.

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It takes most patients about a week.

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At King's, they're supervised by alcohol liaison nurse

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specialist Cathy Smith-Barker.

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She was about to meet Joe Walker, now four days into his detox.

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Hey, Joe. Hey, how are you doing?

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-Hi, Joe. Louis.

-Hi, nice to meet you.

-Nice to meet you. How are you doing?

0:09:000:09:04

-I'm OK, how are you?

-Yeah, not too bad.

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How are you feeling?

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-Pretty scared, to be honest.

-Yeah.

-Yeah.

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What of?

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Just life at the moment, really.

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And...

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-HE SOBS

-..I don't want to go back to this.

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Yeah. We still haven't finished detoxing you,

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so I want to reassure you you're not going today.

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Compared to how you were when you first got here,

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how are you feeling physically?

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Better, but I've got to use this walking stick to...

0:09:320:09:35

Do you? Is that just to kind of keep yourself steady?

0:09:350:09:37

-Just to keep myself steady.

-OK, why is that?

0:09:370:09:40

What's happening with your feet or with your legs?

0:09:400:09:43

Well, I don't know, because my legs, you see...

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Are they feeling weak?

0:09:460:09:47

Yeah, that's never happened before.

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-It's, you know, that's quite frightening.

-Yeah.

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What's happened to them?

0:09:550:09:56

I don't know. I don't know.

0:09:560:09:59

Can I just get you to do this?

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Just put your arms out.

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I can see that you're really shaky still.

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I'm just going to feel the palms of your hands.

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-Yeah, you're really sweaty still, aren't you?

-So fucking dangerous.

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So, if you just take a couple of steps forward. Yeah, that's...

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And then come back, you don't need to do any more.

0:10:150:10:17

Yeah, that's definitely ataxia.

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-You'd been drinking a lot before you came in, that's right, isn't it?

-Yeah.

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How much, and for how long?

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From...

0:10:250:10:28

a couple of weeks. No, months probably.

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And it had been, like, started off with a bottle of vodka a day,

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and then it went up to two bottles of vodka a day.

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Were you working alongside the drinking?

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No. I had basically given up work by that point.

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I just walked out and...

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What kind of work was it?

0:10:480:10:49

I was working at King's College, in medical education,

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and I didn't get a job that I wanted.

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And I can't take rejection, so alongside that

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and a break-up, I just thought,

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"Sod it," and went for it.

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How is your support network? Have you had visitors

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since you've been in here?

0:11:120:11:13

No, no-one. No-one's come.

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But I think I must have collapsed in the street

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and a stranger thought, "You need to go to A&E."

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The reason I stayed in A&E was

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because I really, actually, wanted to recover.

0:11:260:11:30

I thought I was drinking myself to death and there was something in me

0:11:310:11:35

that I didn't want,

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I didn't want...

0:11:390:11:41

I didn't want to die, basically.

0:11:410:11:44

Not "quite", I didn't want to die.

0:11:440:11:46

Clearly he's, you know, in a sense, at a fork in the road

0:11:490:11:52

and he either keeps on drinking

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or he stops and has a healthy life.

0:11:540:11:57

Can you...?

0:11:570:11:58

Have you any way of telling

0:11:580:12:00

which way he's likely to go

0:12:000:12:01

and what will lead to him going one way or the other?

0:12:010:12:04

Joe has had four-and-a-half years of being abstinent,

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so I think he's in with a very good chance of recovery, actually,

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because he knows that he's got it in him to do it.

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# Darling, you send me

0:12:150:12:18

# I know you send me

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# Darling, you send me

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# Honest, you do... #

0:12:300:12:31

I'd headed out of the hospital

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to see a little more of the home life

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of one of the drinkers I'd met.

0:12:350:12:37

Aurelie lives in a council flat in Brixton.

0:12:370:12:40

Nice to see you.

0:12:400:12:42

Nice to see you as well, Louis.

0:12:420:12:43

It's really messy.

0:12:430:12:44

My place is really messy, so I tell you in advance.

0:12:440:12:47

It's not too bad.

0:12:470:12:49

Thanks for having us.

0:12:490:12:50

You're welcome.

0:12:500:12:51

How are you feeling today?

0:12:510:12:53

I'm not too bad, I can breathe.

0:12:530:12:55

-I take it you've had a drink already?

-Of course, yeah.

0:12:550:12:58

-How many?

-So far, one.

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And one... And this is not finished.

0:13:000:13:02

-Yeah.

-One-and-a-half.

0:13:020:13:04

One-and-a-half, yeah, that's it.

0:13:040:13:05

-How are you feeling? Good?

-I'm feeling stable.

-Yeah.

0:13:050:13:07

Stable.

0:13:070:13:09

Would you like to show me anything that you have that...

0:13:090:13:11

is important to you?

0:13:110:13:13

This, I believe, it will be in a registry office.

0:13:150:13:17

-Is that your dad?

-My dad, yeah.

0:13:170:13:19

-And your...?

-Step-mum.

0:13:190:13:22

So, your dad and your birth mother were never married?

0:13:220:13:26

I wouldn't think so, no.

0:13:260:13:28

-As far as you know.

-Yeah.

0:13:280:13:29

So, she took off quite early.

0:13:290:13:31

I believe so, yeah.

0:13:310:13:32

Do you remember that wedding?

0:13:320:13:34

No.

0:13:340:13:35

How old would you have been then?

0:13:350:13:37

Quite young, yeah. Five.

0:13:370:13:38

I must have been in children's home,

0:13:380:13:40

because I was in a children's home for some time.

0:13:400:13:42

How long did you spend in the children's home?

0:13:420:13:45

Oh, we're talking a good...

0:13:450:13:47

four or five years.

0:13:470:13:49

-Really?

-Yeah, up and down. Yeah.

0:13:490:13:51

-When I was...

-So, you're half-Cameroonian?

0:13:510:13:53

Yeah. And half from Brittany.

0:13:530:13:55

-And half-Breton.

-Yeah.

-Breton.

-Breton.

0:13:550:13:58

Oh, you speak...

0:13:580:13:59

Your French, for an Englishman, is very impressive.

0:13:590:14:02

Merci beaucoup.

0:14:020:14:05

Je sais.

0:14:050:14:06

I used to teach French a little bit privately,

0:14:060:14:08

but I was getting too drunk, I couldn't do it.

0:14:080:14:11

I was going there, I was paralytic.

0:14:110:14:13

-Oh, dear.

-Paralytic. I was trying to...

0:14:130:14:15

For the lessons?

0:14:150:14:16

Yeah, yeah, I was paralytic.

0:14:160:14:18

How's the taste?

0:14:300:14:32

The taste is becoming more and more disgusting.

0:14:320:14:35

It's tasting like...

0:14:350:14:37

petrol or something.

0:14:370:14:39

To be honest with you, I don't even like the taste of alcohol any more.

0:14:390:14:42

I take it because I don't want to be sick in a nasty way.

0:14:420:14:47

What was the last time you were admitted to hospital?

0:14:470:14:50

Not that long ago, for bleeding.

0:14:500:14:52

Bleeding where?

0:14:530:14:55

-The back passage.

-Oh, that sounds nasty.

0:14:550:14:57

It was quite annoying, to be honest, but...

0:14:570:15:00

-Scary.

-Yeah.

0:15:000:15:01

Scary - I don't get scared any more because, at the end of the day,

0:15:010:15:04

scared about what? You know?

0:15:040:15:05

You get what you deserve, you know what I'm saying?

0:15:050:15:09

# You send me

0:15:090:15:12

# Whenever I'm with you. #

0:15:120:15:14

I need to stop at the off-licence.

0:15:140:15:16

Aurelie had offered to introduce me to her boyfriend, Gary.

0:15:190:15:23

They had been together three weeks.

0:15:240:15:26

How come you've got a K and a Strongbow?

0:15:280:15:31

Because, the other one, I give him a drink as well.

0:15:310:15:33

-Who?

-The boyfriend.

0:15:330:15:35

And he doesn't like K?

0:15:350:15:37

No, no, no.

0:15:370:15:38

It's only big addicts that like K - like me, yeah.

0:15:380:15:42

Look out.

0:15:420:15:44

OK.

0:15:440:15:45

Oh, he's here. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

0:15:450:15:46

-You've found him?

-He's coming.

0:15:460:15:48

Here he is. How are you doing? Louis.

0:15:480:15:50

-Louis, nice to meet you.

-Nice to meet you.

0:15:500:15:52

We're just doing a little documentary

0:15:520:15:54

based mainly in King's College Hospital,

0:15:540:15:57

and that's where we met Aurelie.

0:15:570:15:58

OK. I'll give you ten questions on whatever you want to do

0:15:580:16:01

-and then I'm going to leave you, yeah?

-Ten questions.

0:16:010:16:03

Well, let's have a conversation

0:16:030:16:05

-and then you leave when you feel like it.

-All right, all right.

0:16:050:16:07

-How are you doing?

-Me, I'm doing fine, thank you very much. Yeah.

0:16:070:16:10

Do you think you drink too much?

0:16:100:16:12

-I know I drink too much.

-Go on.

0:16:120:16:14

I drink too much because I want to blank things out

0:16:140:16:16

-in my life, you know?

-Like what?

0:16:160:16:18

Like relationships,

0:16:180:16:19

kids I can't see no more - because I lost them through the alcohol -

0:16:190:16:22

and everything else -

0:16:220:16:24

like jobs, circumstances, houses.

0:16:240:16:27

I used to be rich but now I'm poor.

0:16:270:16:29

How much do you drink?

0:16:290:16:30

I'd say eight to 12 cans of lager a day, minimum.

0:16:320:16:37

If that's... That's on a good day.

0:16:370:16:39

If you want to go and party, we're going 24.

0:16:390:16:42

Vodkas. I would say I worked all weekend though.

0:16:420:16:44

I'm an alcoholic that don't sign on and ponce off the streets.

0:16:440:16:47

You look...

0:16:470:16:48

If I may say so, you look healthy.

0:16:480:16:50

I mean, do you feel healthy in yourself, physically?

0:16:500:16:53

Yeah. I think I am, yeah.

0:16:530:16:54

For a 40-year-old guy, I think I'm really good. Yeah.

0:16:540:16:57

I'm not looking like an alcoholic like her.

0:16:570:16:59

Look, she's given up. I have not given up.

0:16:590:17:02

I think the beer... I think I can win.

0:17:020:17:04

I think I can beat the beer. I think I can beat the alcohol.

0:17:040:17:06

I think I can do anything I want.

0:17:060:17:08

I don't sign on, I don't go to the doctor's.

0:17:080:17:10

What makes you say...?

0:17:100:17:11

Sorry, Gary. What makes you say that Aurelie has given up?

0:17:110:17:14

She says she can't wake up for work

0:17:140:17:16

cos she feels ill if she goes to walk the dog.

0:17:160:17:18

She needs K cider every day. Yeah, she does.

0:17:180:17:20

I don't need that.

0:17:200:17:22

I just wake up and I go,

0:17:220:17:23

and she knows that. Yes or no?

0:17:230:17:25

Yes.

0:17:250:17:26

She's just got the can and her dog. Her boyfriend, Romeo.

0:17:260:17:28

-That's all she's got.

-Romeo's the dog?

-Yes.

-Yeah, my dog.

0:17:280:17:31

Well, I don't... That sounds a bit unkind.

0:17:310:17:33

-Yeah, you are a bit unkind towards me.

-Well, it's the truth.

0:17:330:17:36

It's a bit offensive when he says like,

0:17:360:17:38

-"Look at her, she looks like a real..."

-You are an alcoholic.

0:17:380:17:41

Yeah, but if you see me,

0:17:410:17:42

would you notice straight on the spot that I'm an alcoholic?

0:17:420:17:45

-No.

-No, of course not.

0:17:450:17:47

Usually, I get nice girls with nice tits

0:17:470:17:49

and nice body on a night out, yeah?

0:17:490:17:50

Now I'm dumped with that.

0:17:510:17:53

-OK. I'm off...

-I'm joking. I'm...

-GARY CHUCKLES

0:17:530:17:55

I'm off, I'm off, I'm off.

0:17:550:17:57

-I'm joking. Aurelie!

-No, thank you.

0:17:570:18:00

-Give me a kiss, come here.

-No.

-I'm joking, Aurelie.

0:18:000:18:02

It's true. Look at the state of it.

0:18:020:18:04

-I think you've really hurt her feelings, I think.

-Fuck her.

0:18:040:18:07

It's true, though.

0:18:070:18:08

I don't love her.

0:18:080:18:09

She don't love me.

0:18:090:18:11

-Well...

-Ask me a question...

0:18:110:18:12

I'll tell her straight. Sorry, Aurelie, I was joking.

0:18:120:18:15

Come here, come here, come here. Aurelie! I love you, I'm joking.

0:18:150:18:18

I just told the camera I love you.

0:18:180:18:20

Look, "I love you, Aurelie." Look, yeah?

0:18:200:18:22

It's the drink talking, isn't it? Yeah.

0:18:220:18:25

-The drink or the flat talking.

-Oh, yeah, here she is.

0:18:250:18:27

Here she is, here she is.

0:18:270:18:29

OK, we've got her back, yeah.

0:18:290:18:30

You love talking to the camera, don't you?

0:18:300:18:33

I love every...

0:18:350:18:37

I love being nice to you.

0:18:380:18:39

I said I'd do that, and now I've done it though.

0:18:390:18:41

-I appreciate it.

-Any more questions?

0:18:410:18:43

Is there anything you wanted to say while Gary was here?

0:18:430:18:45

Yes. Erm...

0:18:450:18:47

No.

0:18:500:18:51

-Do you want to see me go?

-No, I don't.

-Do you want to see me go?

-No.

0:18:510:18:53

That's another thing that alcohol does, yeah?

0:18:530:18:55

You ain't seen the other part of it.

0:18:550:18:57

-Look, are they watching?

-Don't be like that.

0:18:570:18:59

Get my fucking stuff off me now.

0:18:590:19:00

-We're going to...

-Get this off me now or I'll ruin you.

-He's coming.

0:19:000:19:03

-Gary, what is wrong?

-He's coming.

0:19:030:19:05

It looks like I'm interested in losers,

0:19:130:19:16

the one that is going to take me nowhere at all.

0:19:160:19:19

It looks like that's my favourite choice, you know.

0:19:190:19:23

It can't be good for your self-esteem

0:19:230:19:25

if he talks like that about you.

0:19:250:19:26

Yeah, yeah.

0:19:260:19:28

How does it make you feel

0:19:300:19:31

when you see people like me

0:19:310:19:33

or who's suffering with alcohol?

0:19:330:19:35

How do you feel about that?

0:19:350:19:37

Erm...

0:19:370:19:38

I think you deserve a better life.

0:19:410:19:44

Don't you?

0:19:440:19:45

Hi there, Pieter.

0:20:120:20:13

'Pieter was coming to the end of his detox.'

0:20:130:20:16

-Hi, Louis.

-Hi, Pieter.

0:20:160:20:17

'I'd come by for a catch-up.'

0:20:170:20:19

-Good to see you.

-Yes.

-You're looking perky.

0:20:190:20:22

How are you feeling?

0:20:220:20:23

I feel all right.

0:20:230:20:25

-You look a lot better than when I last saw you.

-Oh, yes.

0:20:250:20:27

Do you know, Cathy, what the situation is medically with Pieter?

0:20:270:20:30

-Well, I mean, Pieter's fit for discharge.

-Yeah.

0:20:300:20:33

His liver is looking in relatively good shape.

0:20:330:20:36

So, medically, Pieter's sort of...

0:20:360:20:39

hitherto, kind of got away with it?

0:20:390:20:42

Well, yes and no.

0:20:420:20:44

If, over time, he continues

0:20:440:20:46

to relapse/detox, relapse/detox,

0:20:460:20:49

his liver will eventually become damaged.

0:20:490:20:51

Did you hear...? What she said was very important, I think.

0:20:510:20:53

-Yeah.

-What Cathy just said.

0:20:530:20:55

-Did you hear that, Pieter?

-Oh, yeah.

0:20:550:20:56

It's not a good pattern to get into,

0:20:560:20:58

to fall into - detox/retox.

0:20:580:21:00

No, not at all.

0:21:000:21:02

I hope that I don't have to see you again any time soon.

0:21:020:21:04

-OK. Me as well.

-Good luck.

0:21:040:21:06

-OK, thanks.

-OK, see you later.

0:21:060:21:07

He seems really well, but the obvious question is -

0:21:090:21:13

is he going to be back?

0:21:130:21:16

Will it happen again?

0:21:160:21:17

Well, it's likely, statistically.

0:21:170:21:20

-Is it?

-Yeah.

0:21:200:21:21

He has the added stress and distress

0:21:210:21:24

of having to cope with the loss of his dad now as well.

0:21:240:21:27

He's very personable.

0:21:270:21:29

Yeah. He's bright, clearly.

0:21:290:21:30

-He's a bright, nice, regular, easy-going guy...

-Yeah.

0:21:300:21:33

-..and yet he's got this thing that he's grappling with.

-Yeah.

0:21:330:21:36

I'm just wondering how sustainable is it for him

0:21:360:21:39

to keep cycling through these relapses and detoxes

0:21:390:21:43

and, at the same time, kind of, lead a normal life?

0:21:430:21:46

Well, I mean, over time, it will become less and less sustainable.

0:21:460:21:49

One's repertoire narrows and narrows, and narrows,

0:21:490:21:52

to the point that alcohol is just the thing that you do.

0:21:520:21:56

It's the way that you cope with all adversity and it's your companion.

0:21:560:22:00

The logical end point to alcohol dependence

0:22:000:22:03

is the person sitting on their own

0:22:030:22:05

in a room with a bottle

0:22:050:22:08

and nobody else left around them.

0:22:080:22:10

'I was curious how addiction

0:22:170:22:19

'had affected Pieter's relationship with Marianna.'

0:22:190:22:22

-Pieter.

-Hey.

0:22:220:22:23

'I'd arranged to visit them at home,

0:22:230:22:25

'a rented room a couple of miles from the hospital.'

0:22:250:22:28

How did you meet, the two of you?

0:22:280:22:30

We worked together in the same place.

0:22:300:22:32

-In the same workplace?

-Yes.

0:22:320:22:33

And what was it that, sort of, worked between you to begin with?

0:22:330:22:37

Pieter, I think, is the kindest person I've met in my life.

0:22:370:22:41

He can be funny, really funny.

0:22:410:22:43

I had a good laugh with him at the beginning, a really good laugh.

0:22:430:22:46

So, what else do you need?

0:22:460:22:48

What did you know about Pieter's drinking when you got together?

0:22:480:22:52

-Honest?

-Hmm.

0:22:520:22:54

-Nothing.

-You didn't realise?

0:22:540:22:56

No. I...

0:22:560:22:58

I was abstinent.

0:22:580:22:59

-I had...

-At that time.

-Yes.

-Yes.

0:22:590:23:01

I thought, actually, I finally found somebody who doesn't drink,

0:23:010:23:06

-to be really honest.

-Yeah.

0:23:060:23:08

She went on holiday

0:23:090:23:11

and I lapsed.

0:23:110:23:13

I didn't know why he doesn't answer the phone,

0:23:130:23:15

why he doesn't want to talk to me, why he's avoiding me -

0:23:150:23:18

and, eventually, I found out.

0:23:180:23:20

How long had you been together at this point?

0:23:200:23:24

A few months. I knew his history, so I thought,

0:23:240:23:26

"Maybe it's just an episode, he's lonely."

0:23:260:23:28

His history - meaning what?

0:23:280:23:30

-Divorce.

-The divorce, yeah.

0:23:300:23:31

I don't know how much should I say.

0:23:310:23:33

You took the divorce very hard?

0:23:330:23:35

Really hard.

0:23:350:23:36

After that, I just spiralled down.

0:23:360:23:39

-Drinking?

-Yeah.

0:23:400:23:42

Pieter can't handle stress at all.

0:23:420:23:44

So, maybe something happens at work that stresses you out.

0:23:440:23:48

I mean, is that a plausible scenario?

0:23:480:23:50

Yes, Louis, but there's...

0:23:500:23:52

For me, there's a couple of triggers.

0:23:520:23:54

Work is one.

0:23:570:23:59

Now, recently, my dad.

0:23:590:24:01

Plus our housing situation.

0:24:010:24:04

It must be quite distressing for you to watch, Marianna.

0:24:040:24:07

Oh, it is.

0:24:070:24:08

He's not violent. He doesn't do anything.

0:24:080:24:10

He just lies here with the bottle and keep on drinking, that's it.

0:24:100:24:13

I have to feed him, yes.

0:24:130:24:15

I have to wake him up.

0:24:150:24:17

"Come on, drink some water.

0:24:170:24:19

"Come on, eat something."

0:24:190:24:21

So, it's 24-hour care job.

0:24:210:24:24

It feels like Marianna's got a lot of insight into...

0:24:240:24:27

who you are.

0:24:270:24:29

Oh, yeah.

0:24:290:24:30

Maybe more than you do.

0:24:300:24:31

HE LAUGHS

0:24:330:24:35

Fair enough.

0:24:350:24:37

Joe, the young man I'd met,

0:24:570:24:58

was also back home in his South London house-share.

0:24:580:25:02

Hi, Joe, how are you doing?

0:25:020:25:04

'I'd been struck that, unlike Pieter,

0:25:040:25:06

'he hadn't been visited by family in hospital.

0:25:060:25:10

'I knew his mum had also struggled with alcohol

0:25:100:25:13

'and died when he was a child.

0:25:130:25:15

'His dad, now remarried, lived in Brighton.

0:25:150:25:18

'With his support network stretched thin,

0:25:180:25:21

'I wondered how he was bearing up.'

0:25:210:25:24

-You're looking well.

-Thanks.

0:25:240:25:25

Are you feeling OK?

0:25:250:25:27

Physically, yeah.

0:25:270:25:29

Yeah, pretty much.

0:25:290:25:30

You're basically staying alcohol-free.

0:25:300:25:33

-Alcohol-free, yeah.

-No cravings?

0:25:330:25:35

Not for alcohol.

0:25:350:25:36

-Sweeties.

-Sweeties. Really?

-Yeah.

0:25:360:25:39

-Can we look at some of your photos?

-Yeah, sure.

0:25:390:25:42

So, this was at Royal Ascot last year.

0:25:420:25:45

This was on my 30th birthday with a friend.

0:25:450:25:48

How old are you now, again?

0:25:480:25:49

I was 32 yesterday.

0:25:490:25:50

Oh, you just had your birthday.

0:25:500:25:52

I had my birthday yesterday.

0:25:520:25:53

What did you do for your birthday?

0:25:530:25:55

-Went out for dinner...

-With?

-..with friends.

0:25:550:25:57

-How was that?

-That was really nice.

0:25:570:25:58

It was lovely, actually. It was amazing.

0:25:580:26:00

Some of whom, I hadn't seen since, you know...

0:26:000:26:02

I went in to this, kind of, awful place.

0:26:020:26:04

That was when I was at school, 16.

0:26:060:26:08

That was when I was in Guys And Dolls.

0:26:080:26:10

That's Guy Masterson.

0:26:100:26:12

Is that the Marlon Brando or...?

0:26:120:26:14

That's Marlon Brando as the hero.

0:26:140:26:15

-Right. Luck Be A Lady?

-Yeah, that's the one.

0:26:150:26:17

-Did you have to sing that?

-I did have to sing Luck Be A Lady.

0:26:170:26:20

-Really?

-Yeah.

0:26:200:26:21

# A lady doesn't leave her escort

0:26:210:26:23

It isn't fair, it isn't nice. #

0:26:230:26:26

Yeah, that's the one.

0:26:260:26:28

# A lady doesn't wander all...

0:26:280:26:29

-BOTH:

-# Over the room

0:26:290:26:31

# And blow on some other guy's dice. #

0:26:310:26:34

Do you know, that was probably my favourite time of my life actually,

0:26:340:26:38

-that final year.

-Was it?

0:26:380:26:40

So, this was a collage I made of a trip to Australia.

0:26:400:26:44

I was with my girlfriend at the time,

0:26:440:26:46

and I was out pissing it up too much, really,

0:26:460:26:49

and was pretty horrible to her, frankly.

0:26:490:26:51

I remember, after that, thinking,

0:26:510:26:53

"I definitely, definitely don't ever want to drink again

0:26:530:26:56

"because I don't want to put someone through that again."

0:26:560:26:58

Have you ever, sort of, drunk on an even keel,

0:26:580:27:00

in a normal social way for any period of time?

0:27:000:27:03

I haven't always been round-the-clock drinking

0:27:030:27:05

-or anything like that.

-Right.

-No, absolutely not.

0:27:050:27:08

It's something that, kind of, crept up.

0:27:080:27:10

So, really, it's only been a couple of contained episodes...

0:27:100:27:14

Episodes.

0:27:140:27:16

..of absolutely crazed,

0:27:160:27:18

self-annihilating drinking.

0:27:180:27:20

Yeah, that's right.

0:27:200:27:22

Yeah.

0:27:220:27:23

You know, with a big chunk of nothing at all in the middle.

0:27:230:27:27

I thought, "I'm a bit older, I'm in a different space,

0:27:270:27:30

"I want to drink for different reasons.

0:27:300:27:32

"I don't want to go mad, crazy partying and...

0:27:320:27:36

"I just want to have a couple of glasses of wine on a date or..."

0:27:360:27:40

-You know?

-Mm-hmm. What was the sign that it was out of control?

0:27:400:27:43

When I went off...

0:27:430:27:45

I couldn't go to work any more because I knew I had to drink.

0:27:450:27:48

Right. Drinking in here...

0:27:480:27:50

Yeah, drinking in here, just in bed.

0:27:500:27:52

-From the bottle?

-From the bottle, yeah. Yeah.

0:27:520:27:54

It's quite weird, isn't it?

0:27:540:27:55

It's just hard to see you in that state.

0:27:550:27:57

It is quite weird, but it's oblivion.

0:27:570:28:00

Smashing my head open and...

0:28:000:28:02

You know. Yeah.

0:28:020:28:03

Is that the bloodstains over there?

0:28:030:28:05

That is actually the remaining bloodstains.

0:28:050:28:07

I know that I should probably get rid of them,

0:28:070:28:10

but there's something slightly...

0:28:100:28:12

..perversely shocking about it

0:28:130:28:15

that, kind of, makes it worth it for the time being.

0:28:150:28:18

A helpful reminder.

0:28:180:28:20

Well, it is, actually.

0:28:200:28:22

I haven't wanted to drink since I came out of hospital,

0:28:220:28:25

but...

0:28:250:28:26

..I'm actually quite...

0:28:270:28:30

..clear, from my own experience,

0:28:310:28:33

how quickly it can just change, like that.

0:28:330:28:36

For those drinkers who have been abusing alcohol for years

0:28:490:28:52

and are showing signs of liver damage,

0:28:520:28:54

there are weekly clinics.

0:28:540:28:56

So, Stuart, how are you?

0:28:560:28:57

I'm...

0:28:570:28:59

filling up again, like a balloon.

0:28:590:29:01

Dr Debbie Shawcross was seeing antiques dealer Stuart Duggan

0:29:010:29:05

and his girlfriend, Deborah.

0:29:050:29:08

So, are you able to undo your shirt or lift it up?

0:29:080:29:11

Well, there it is,

0:29:110:29:13

and I'm going to do this - reveal it.

0:29:130:29:15

Now...

0:29:150:29:17

-There it is.

-There it is.

-There it is.

0:29:170:29:19

That is vile, isn't it?

0:29:190:29:20

I wouldn't go that far.

0:29:200:29:22

-It's quite big.

-It's big.

0:29:240:29:26

So, you've got a lot of fluid there, haven't you?

0:29:260:29:28

Ten litres.

0:29:280:29:30

Just in the abdominal cavity, sloshing around?

0:29:300:29:33

-Yes, so it's between the...

-It's not in the stomach?

0:29:330:29:35

No, it's between the lining of the peritoneum

0:29:350:29:37

and the skin filters the blood.

0:29:370:29:39

I am paying the price for drinking, basically.

0:29:390:29:43

I've got liquid everywhere...

0:29:430:29:45

and nothing to drink.

0:29:450:29:46

So, Stuart, you have liver disease.

0:29:470:29:50

-Cirrhosis.

-Cirrhosis of the liver.

-Yeah.

0:29:500:29:54

Because I drank a lot.

0:29:540:29:56

How much?

0:29:560:29:57

Oh, God.

0:29:570:29:59

I might drink four or five pints of strong lager then go home,

0:29:590:30:02

start cooking.

0:30:020:30:04

It's quite easy, bottle of wine.

0:30:040:30:05

Second bottle, you know.

0:30:050:30:08

Really?

0:30:080:30:10

It's not that shocking, actually.

0:30:100:30:11

A lot of people drink four or five pints of lager a day.

0:30:110:30:14

-That bit, I wasn't shocked by.

-No.

0:30:140:30:16

That... I would drink four or five pints of lager,

0:30:160:30:18

or I might drink a bottle and a half,

0:30:180:30:20

maybe even two bottles of wine...

0:30:200:30:22

-There you go.

-..in an afternoon, evening.

0:30:220:30:24

I wouldn't do both, I don't think.

0:30:240:30:26

Well, yeah, OK.

0:30:260:30:28

I was.

0:30:280:30:30

And I was warned...

0:30:300:30:32

by doctors, years ago,

0:30:320:30:33

that I should stop drinking,

0:30:330:30:35

as everyone is warned.

0:30:350:30:37

You know, but you just turn a blind eye to it.

0:30:370:30:40

Deborah, how long have you been with Stuart?

0:30:400:30:43

-13 years.

-13 years.

0:30:430:30:45

Had you spoken to him about his drinking?

0:30:470:30:50

-Yes, lots.

-Every day.

0:30:500:30:52

So, at what point did you stop drinking?

0:30:530:30:56

As soon as...

0:30:560:31:00

You went into A&E.

0:31:000:31:01

As soon as I went into...

0:31:010:31:02

I didn't need AA, I went to A&E.

0:31:020:31:05

I was very ill at one time.

0:31:050:31:07

I felt, like, really ill.

0:31:070:31:09

Well, you were in intensive care, weren't you, for a few days?

0:31:090:31:11

Yeah, I went in intensive care. That was horrible.

0:31:110:31:14

What many patients with liver disease develop

0:31:140:31:17

are effectively varicose veins in their gullet and in their stomach.

0:31:170:31:22

They can just burst, just like that.

0:31:220:31:24

They can rupture...

0:31:240:31:26

and when that happens,

0:31:260:31:28

you start vomiting huge amounts of fresh red blood.

0:31:280:31:32

When I say what's wrong with me, I sound terribly ill.

0:31:320:31:35

I don't feel terribly ill,

0:31:350:31:37

but it does sound bad, doesn't it?

0:31:370:31:40

But I think you are...

0:31:400:31:41

You know, I think if we have a very honest conversation, Stuart,

0:31:410:31:44

you are terribly ill, because..

0:31:440:31:46

What's the life expectancy of somebody like me?

0:31:460:31:48

Have you not asked that yet?

0:31:480:31:49

I'm imagining you've already talked about that with Dr Shawcross.

0:31:490:31:52

I've talked to other patients and it's not good.

0:31:520:31:56

So, if I do a particular score,

0:31:560:31:58

called the Meld Score, it's 22.

0:31:580:32:00

If we had a whole group of people

0:32:000:32:02

with a score of 22,

0:32:020:32:05

76% of that group

0:32:050:32:08

wouldn't actually last three months with that score.

0:32:080:32:11

-OK.

-That's...

0:32:120:32:14

Now, that's just a group of people,

0:32:140:32:15

it doesn't necessarily mean that's you.

0:32:150:32:18

-That's the kind of ballpark.

-Three months?

0:32:180:32:20

And if you were drinking,

0:32:200:32:22

I don't think you'd be with us in three months' time.

0:32:220:32:25

I'd be sending you off to go and make your will.

0:32:250:32:27

Well, three months is not very much, is it? I won't hit Christmas.

0:32:270:32:30

That's the worst-case scenario, but that's potentially...

0:32:300:32:33

It's tough, Stuart, it really is.

0:32:340:32:36

So, on the bright side...

0:32:380:32:40

-..I'm still here.

-You're still here -

0:32:410:32:44

because many other people in your condition

0:32:440:32:46

wouldn't even have made it to this point, Stuart.

0:32:460:32:48

I think that's the important thing to think about.

0:32:480:32:51

Here he is.

0:32:530:32:56

The man of the hour.

0:32:560:32:58

'A little later, I caught up with Stuart as he was being drained.'

0:32:580:33:01

Could you do me a favour?

0:33:010:33:03

Of course.

0:33:030:33:04

-Put it on the floor...

-Put it on the floor?

0:33:040:33:06

..and watch it now.

0:33:060:33:07

He's forgotten to put it on the floor, easy done. Don't worry.

0:33:070:33:10

Are you all right?

0:33:100:33:11

It goes on the floor,

0:33:110:33:13

gravity does its job.

0:33:130:33:14

I can give that a little wiggle

0:33:150:33:17

and that'll start coming out a bit quicker.

0:33:170:33:19

How are you after that?

0:33:210:33:23

That meeting?

0:33:230:33:25

They have to give you...

0:33:250:33:26

After what?

0:33:260:33:28

The meeting with...

0:33:280:33:29

The three-month thing, I was a bit confused about

0:33:300:33:33

and a little bit shocked.

0:33:330:33:35

How were you confused by it?

0:33:350:33:36

I mean, I don't believe I've only got three months to live,

0:33:360:33:39

there you go.

0:33:390:33:40

And if I ask another doctor, they'd go, "No."

0:33:400:33:42

She didn't say you had three months to live. No.

0:33:420:33:45

-That's not what she said.

-No, exactly.

0:33:450:33:47

She said that...

0:33:470:33:49

76% of people...

0:33:490:33:51

..in your condition...

0:33:520:33:53

-..would have three months to live.

-Yeah.

0:33:550:33:57

So, the 24%...

0:33:580:34:00

-Would live longer.

-..would live longer.

0:34:010:34:04

I must be in the 24%.

0:34:040:34:06

It's a pretty bad picture but, like, you know,

0:34:080:34:11

trying to...

0:34:110:34:13

give it a bit of colour.

0:34:130:34:14

That looks full now.

0:34:160:34:17

There you go.

0:34:170:34:19

-Shoot that.

-What happens now?

0:34:190:34:21

You'll have to empty it.

0:34:210:34:22

I'm happy to.

0:34:220:34:23

Is it, basically, urine?

0:34:280:34:30

-No.

-No.

-I didn't think so. It's just fluid.

0:34:300:34:33

-It looks like it, doesn't it?

-I know.

0:34:330:34:35

-Does it smell like urine?

-No.

0:34:350:34:37

Do you want to smell it?

0:34:370:34:38

It actually doesn't really smell of anything.

0:34:400:34:42

It's got a nice head on it.

0:34:420:34:44

-Can you see it's gone down already?

-Yeah.

0:34:460:34:48

You look like you've just seen the Grim Reaper.

0:34:530:34:55

Well, it was a lot to take in, wasn't it?

0:34:550:34:57

Come on.

0:34:570:34:59

He always does this.

0:35:030:35:04

-Hello.

-Hello. How are you?

-Not too bad at all.

0:35:200:35:22

'Aurelie was back at hospital.'

0:35:220:35:24

-Hi, Aurelie, how are you doing?

-Yeah, still all right.

0:35:240:35:27

'A test had shown signs of serious damage to her liver.

0:35:270:35:30

'She'd been referred to one of King's top liver specialists,

0:35:300:35:33

'Professor John O'Grady.'

0:35:330:35:35

This is your gamma GT.

0:35:350:35:37

This is absolutely astronomical - around 3,000.

0:35:370:35:40

Is that about as high as it can go?

0:35:420:35:44

That's territory...

0:35:450:35:46

Yes, that's of the extremes.

0:35:460:35:49

Your spleen is getting bigger in size,

0:35:490:35:51

telling us your liver is moving on

0:35:510:35:54

to another stage of disease.

0:35:540:35:56

Your pancreas is swollen on the scan,

0:35:570:36:02

which may be why you're having problems with digestion.

0:36:020:36:06

You know, your health is progressively deteriorating.

0:36:060:36:10

I'm thinking that,

0:36:110:36:14

when you come to a certain level of alcohol use,

0:36:140:36:17

your tolerance is getting higher and higher

0:36:170:36:20

and you don't feel like you're drunk at all.

0:36:200:36:24

You feel fine.

0:36:240:36:26

You do.

0:36:260:36:28

And you think you're coping.

0:36:280:36:30

-Well, you feel all right, yeah.

-You feel all right.

0:36:300:36:33

But then, very quickly,

0:36:330:36:34

you start losing that tolerance

0:36:340:36:37

and the reason you start losing that tolerance

0:36:370:36:39

is your liver is no longer able to deal

0:36:390:36:42

with the burden of all the alcohol.

0:36:420:36:45

The liver is the most forgiving organ in the body...

0:36:450:36:48

..if you treat it well.

0:36:490:36:51

I eat vegetables.

0:36:540:36:55

SHE LAUGHS

0:36:550:36:58

I'm struggling to see a way forward...

0:36:580:37:00

So do I. Yeah.

0:37:000:37:02

..because...

0:37:020:37:03

..most of the strategies we can talk about -

0:37:050:37:07

your health, your liver tests -

0:37:070:37:09

it's old...

0:37:090:37:11

news to you.

0:37:110:37:13

Mm-hmm.

0:37:130:37:14

It's like reading the newspaper or something.

0:37:140:37:17

You're not, in a sense, responding to it in the way...

0:37:170:37:20

I think you've gone beyond...

0:37:200:37:21

Has it gone beyond caring or gone beyond...?

0:37:210:37:24

Beyond hearing.

0:37:270:37:29

Hearing or caring.

0:37:290:37:31

Yeah, I can't hear what I hear.

0:37:310:37:33

Or I decide not to hear it.

0:37:350:37:36

I'm surprised I'm still alive anyway.

0:37:380:37:40

That's the comment that worries me...

0:37:440:37:46

..because you are looking to the end,

0:37:490:37:51

you're looking to the point of death.

0:37:510:37:53

That's as far as your thinking seems to go.

0:37:530:37:55

Do you see any way out of this?

0:37:590:38:01

AURELIE SIGHS

0:38:030:38:05

A miracle.

0:38:050:38:06

A miracle.

0:38:080:38:09

Do you believe in miracles?

0:38:120:38:14

Yes.

0:38:140:38:15

I was now several weeks into filming.

0:38:260:38:30

Rather than judging them as people who've made bad choices,

0:38:300:38:33

I'd come to see those in the grips of alcohol addiction

0:38:330:38:36

as suffering from deeper emotional issues -

0:38:360:38:39

taking life's setbacks too hard

0:38:390:38:42

and attempting to numb themselves with drink.

0:38:420:38:44

Endangering their own lives,

0:38:460:38:48

they pose a challenge for those around them as to how best to help,

0:38:480:38:52

how to break through

0:38:520:38:53

and when to walk away.

0:38:530:38:55

SIRENS WAIL

0:39:030:39:05

I'd been called to the hospital.

0:39:050:39:08

Joe, my fellow Guys And Dolls enthusiast, was in crisis.

0:39:110:39:15

Having relapsed and been kicked out of his flat,

0:39:150:39:18

he'd been going in and out of A&E in a chaotic state,

0:39:180:39:21

demanding, and then rejecting, the staff's help.

0:39:210:39:24

Joe.

0:39:260:39:27

Oh!

0:39:270:39:28

-Joe.

-What?

0:39:280:39:30

Do you remember me from earlier? I'm a doctor.

0:39:300:39:32

I was in the cubicle with you. Do you remember?

0:39:320:39:34

Give you a light there.

0:39:340:39:35

Sorry.

0:39:350:39:37

Why have you come out here?

0:39:370:39:38

To get a cigarette?

0:39:380:39:40

Yeah, just to have a fag.

0:39:400:39:41

-Do you want me to...?

-Oh, Tom.

0:39:420:39:44

How are you doing, Joe?

0:39:440:39:46

-Do you remember me?

-Oh, Louis.

0:39:460:39:47

-How's it going?

-Hello.

0:39:470:39:49

How's it going?

0:39:490:39:51

Well, not well obviously.

0:39:510:39:54

Yeah, you're looking like you're a bit fragile.

0:39:540:39:56

-Had a few drinks?

-Yeah.

0:39:560:39:58

You went on a bit of a bender from what I can hear?

0:39:580:40:00

Yeah.

0:40:000:40:02

Really bad, bad. Eh?

0:40:020:40:04

-Are you OK?

-Yeah.

0:40:040:40:06

What have you been drinking?

0:40:060:40:09

Vodka.

0:40:090:40:10

You've actually been to see us now three times in the last 24 hours.

0:40:160:40:21

What are you hoping that we might be able to do both, sort of,

0:40:210:40:24

now, today, and over the next few weeks?

0:40:240:40:28

Detox me.

0:40:300:40:32

OK. So, you feel like you're ready for detox?

0:40:320:40:34

Yeah.

0:40:340:40:36

OK.

0:40:360:40:37

I'm really sorry, Joe.

0:40:370:40:38

I'm really sorry to see you this way.

0:40:400:40:42

I'm sorry to be this way.

0:40:440:40:47

You were doing really well when we saw you.

0:40:490:40:51

I was, wasn't I?

0:40:510:40:53

But I don't want it.

0:40:570:40:58

I just don't want it.

0:40:590:41:01

I don't want it at all.

0:41:010:41:04

What don't you want?

0:41:040:41:06

To be a drunk.

0:41:070:41:08

So, what is the likely scenario at this point?

0:41:120:41:15

He'll remain here until he's sober and safe to be discharged.

0:41:150:41:20

He'll have a conversation and be offered some support

0:41:200:41:22

from the alcohol support services,

0:41:220:41:24

but he probably won't be admitted...

0:41:240:41:26

unless he very rapidly goes into very acute withdrawal.

0:41:260:41:31

-Could he even be discharged later today, do you think?

-He might be.

0:41:310:41:35

Yeah, he might be.

0:41:350:41:37

He's got no support network, that's the thing.

0:41:370:41:39

You know - in terms of family, friends.

0:41:390:41:42

They're just...

0:41:420:41:44

I think, a bit exasperated.

0:41:440:41:46

-Yeah, and you could see why they might be.

-Yeah.

0:41:470:41:50

But...

0:41:500:41:51

..you know, whose responsibility is it to care for him?

0:41:530:41:57

Is it his family? Is it friends?

0:41:580:42:01

Is it us? Is it him?

0:42:010:42:03

It's tricky.

0:42:040:42:06

Can I have some Lucozade?

0:42:060:42:08

-Lucozade?

-Yeah.

-I'll see if I can get you some.

0:42:080:42:10

Does it have to be Lucozade

0:42:120:42:14

or can it be any kind of soft drink?

0:42:140:42:16

No, Luco..

0:42:160:42:17

Lucozade.

0:42:170:42:18

HE GROANS

0:42:220:42:23

Lucozade.

0:42:280:42:29

-Thank you.

-You're welcome.

0:42:290:42:31

How are you feeling?

0:42:360:42:38

I'm withdrawing...

0:42:380:42:41

very heavily.

0:42:410:42:43

What does it feel like?

0:42:440:42:46

Like I'm dying as a person.

0:42:480:42:51

Yeah.

0:42:550:42:57

Do you remember what it was that triggered you

0:42:590:43:01

to start drinking again?

0:43:010:43:03

It was my ex.

0:43:030:43:04

She wouldn't talk to me.

0:43:050:43:07

Your girlfriend?

0:43:100:43:11

The most beautiful girl I've ever seen...

0:43:110:43:14

HE SOBS

0:43:160:43:18

Do you want some Lucozade?

0:43:200:43:21

No, I want...

0:43:220:43:24

I just want...

0:43:240:43:25

I thought I was recovering, Louis.

0:43:320:43:34

Well, you were recovering and you'll recover again.

0:43:360:43:39

You can get back on track.

0:43:410:43:42

No, I can't.

0:43:450:43:46

I think this is the endgame.

0:43:460:43:48

No, it's not endgame.

0:43:490:43:51

You were, what, four years sober?

0:43:510:43:53

You must hate me.

0:43:580:43:59

What? No, that's... No, no.

0:44:010:44:03

What a strange thing to say.

0:44:030:44:04

-Do you like me?

-Of course I like you.

0:44:040:44:06

But I'm a pain in the arse.

0:44:100:44:12

Not at all.

0:44:120:44:13

I wanted to come and have a chat with you.

0:44:160:44:18

My feeling is - and Cathy feels this as well,

0:44:180:44:20

having met you before -

0:44:200:44:21

-is that this is an acute crisis for you, really.

-It is.

0:44:210:44:24

-This is quite bad, isn't it?

-It's really dreadful.

0:44:240:44:26

And what we probably should do is

0:44:260:44:28

arrange for you to be admitted

0:44:280:44:29

to have detox as an in-patient -

0:44:290:44:32

-so, to stay in hospital.

-OK.

0:44:320:44:34

We can't keep doing this, though.

0:44:340:44:37

No, I understand that.

0:44:370:44:39

So, we really, really hope that on this occasion...

0:44:390:44:41

This is a real exception.

0:44:410:44:43

It's actually, sort of,

0:44:430:44:45

quite neurologically dangerous, Joe, to keep on detoxing someone.

0:44:450:44:48

We might end up harming you more -

0:44:480:44:50

-but, obviously, we're very happy to help this time round...

-Thank you.

0:44:500:44:53

-..but just please take that on board...

-Thank you.

0:44:530:44:56

..and have a think about what you need to do afterwards.

0:44:560:44:58

-Thank you.

-See you later.

-Bye, Cathy.

-Thanks.

0:44:580:45:01

I know you're not a medic

0:45:080:45:10

but, like...

0:45:100:45:12

I just want to go

0:45:120:45:14

and get a bottle of vodka.

0:45:140:45:16

I'll drink it down the road.

0:45:180:45:20

Ah.

0:45:230:45:25

Do you remember?

0:45:250:45:27

They're detoxing you, so...

0:45:270:45:28

Yeah, I do know that.

0:45:280:45:29

So, for you to go...

0:45:290:45:31

Like 250 mils of vodka.

0:45:310:45:36

I would stay, Joe, I really would.

0:45:360:45:38

Nah, I'm heading off.

0:45:420:45:44

I wouldn't go, Joe, honestly.

0:45:440:45:45

Where is it that you're keen to get to?

0:45:450:45:48

I just want to, basically,

0:45:480:45:50

buy a bottle of vodka and go to...

0:45:500:45:53

I don't know.

0:45:530:45:54

..Ruskin Park or something.

0:45:540:45:57

What, and drink the vodka?

0:45:570:45:58

-Yeah.

-Why?

0:45:580:46:00

Drink the vodka and sleep there.

0:46:000:46:01

Why?

0:46:010:46:02

If feels easier than staying here.

0:46:030:46:06

That's why I'm leaving.

0:46:100:46:12

Joe! Joe! Joe!

0:46:160:46:20

Joe, come on.

0:46:200:46:22

Can you come back to your cubicle now?

0:46:220:46:24

But I want to go and buy a drink.

0:46:240:46:26

I know, but let's just finish doing what we're doing here.

0:46:260:46:29

Come on. I'll go and see what's happening, OK?

0:46:290:46:32

OK, I'm going to get that bottle of vodka.

0:46:370:46:40

Joe, shall we just wait for the medical...?

0:46:450:46:48

No, no, don't you run off.

0:46:540:46:55

OK, so he's basically gone to get more alcohol.

0:46:560:46:59

We want to offer detox to patients

0:47:000:47:02

who are going to engage and stay, and really want it -

0:47:020:47:06

and I'm not convinced that he's in that place at the moment.

0:47:060:47:09

It's also this weird thing of, when you're around him,

0:47:090:47:12

somehow you get sucked into this vortex of wanting to help,

0:47:120:47:17

but also not wanting to, kind of, mother him.

0:47:170:47:21

Do you know what I mean?

0:47:210:47:23

He's looking somewhere for support

0:47:230:47:26

and to be looked after,

0:47:260:47:28

and it's tricky.

0:47:280:47:30

So, now I have to decide whether we need to call the police

0:47:310:47:34

to try and get him back in.

0:47:340:47:37

-I need to go and speak to the team about that.

-OK.

0:47:370:47:39

Well, I think I see him.

0:47:390:47:41

I think I see him.

0:47:420:47:43

-Yeah.

-Oh, he's coming back up.

0:47:440:47:46

He's got something in his hand.

0:47:480:47:49

Joe! Joe!

0:47:510:47:52

How's it going?

0:47:570:47:58

It's only Perrier.

0:47:580:47:59

I didn't drink anything.

0:48:010:48:03

Can I just have a look at the bottle?

0:48:040:48:06

-It's just Perrier?

-Yeah.

0:48:090:48:11

-Shall we go back in?

-Yeah.

0:48:140:48:16

Well done for sticking with it.

0:48:280:48:29

-Thank you.

-Good luck.

0:48:290:48:32

Thank you.

0:48:320:48:33

-See you later.

-Cheers.

-Cheers, Joe.

0:48:350:48:37

The power of Joe's addiction had been shocking to witness,

0:48:450:48:48

exposing his most human vulnerabilities,

0:48:480:48:51

while robbing him of the strength to take control of himself.

0:48:510:48:56

But what also struck me was the sense of impotence I'd felt

0:48:560:48:59

about how to help him.

0:48:590:49:00

I only hoped he could find his way back to happiness and sobriety.

0:49:020:49:06

-Shall we come up?

-Yes, please. Come up.

-How are you doing?

0:49:170:49:19

-How are you?

-Good to see you.

-Good.

0:49:190:49:21

'It was nearly a month since I'd seen Pieter, the South African.'

0:49:210:49:24

It's good to see you in a new place.

0:49:240:49:25

'He and Marianna were now living in a new, more spacious flat.'

0:49:250:49:28

-Let me take these off.

-No. No, no, no.

-Are you sure?

-That's fine, yes.

0:49:280:49:31

-Are you sure? This is nice, isn't it?

-Yes.

0:49:310:49:34

Can you show me around? Give me a little tour?

0:49:340:49:36

Yes, absolutely.

0:49:360:49:38

-Bigger one.

-So, this is our...

0:49:380:49:40

-our bedroom.

-Nice. So, this is where the magic happens.

0:49:400:49:44

Who sleeps on which side?

0:49:440:49:45

This is me, of my perfectionism.

0:49:450:49:48

-Do you always do that with your change, Pieter?

-Yes, I do.

0:49:480:49:52

This is now what, we believe, puts us on the right track.

0:49:520:49:56

Quite a lot.

0:49:560:49:57

Yeah. So, basically, that one...

0:49:570:50:01

is the sertraline.

0:50:010:50:02

This is the one I said...

0:50:040:50:06

-Propranolol.

-Yes.

-For panic.

-Yeah.

-Yes.

-For panic.

-Yes.

0:50:060:50:11

Do you have a diagnosis now?

0:50:110:50:12

-Yes.

-Which is?

-Anxiety.

0:50:120:50:14

Severe anxiety with panic attacks and medium depression.

0:50:140:50:18

And actually, now, for the first time,

0:50:180:50:21

the doctor is actually treating

0:50:210:50:22

more of a mental health illness

0:50:220:50:24

than, rather, the consequences -

0:50:240:50:26

ie, self-mediation via alcohol.

0:50:260:50:29

These are medications and strategies

0:50:290:50:32

that you've never used before.

0:50:320:50:34

I'm so sure that he's going to be fine...

0:50:340:50:37

because I can see a difference in him.

0:50:370:50:39

He's totally different.

0:50:390:50:40

He's actually...too relaxed, I may say, sometimes.

0:50:400:50:43

Doesn't he look well, though?

0:50:430:50:45

-Yes.

-Yeah.

-A different man.

0:50:450:50:47

-Let's go into the kitchen.

-Yes.

0:50:470:50:49

Don't expect something big, yeah? It's still small and...

0:50:490:50:51

But you've got everything you need.

0:50:510:50:53

Yes! I do love my cooking.

0:50:530:50:56

-Yeah.

-And for me, it's...

-He cooks, by the way.

0:50:560:50:58

..some people it seems like a job,

0:50:580:50:59

but for me, it's absolutely relaxing.

0:50:590:51:02

That's relaxing.

0:51:020:51:03

If you wanted to cook with alcohol...

0:51:030:51:05

I mean, are you comfortable having it in your home?

0:51:050:51:07

-Yes.

-You feel...?

-Yes.

0:51:070:51:09

-You don't feel it's a temptation?

-No.

0:51:090:51:11

-You could have an open bottle of wine there by the hob and...

-Yes.

0:51:110:51:14

-..you wouldn't be looking at it?

-I'll make a... I'll make a sauce.

0:51:140:51:18

-You can do that?

-Yes.

0:51:180:51:20

We went, actually, to a party...

0:51:200:51:22

-When, Friday?

-Yes! Last Saturday.

0:51:220:51:24

..and there was drink there.

0:51:240:51:26

I go from the buffet and get food and a nice Pepsi.

0:51:260:51:30

I didn't want a beer.

0:51:300:51:32

The taste of beer wasn't appealing to me.

0:51:320:51:34

I enjoyed a Pepsi.

0:51:340:51:37

When we saw you at the hospital

0:51:370:51:39

during the relapse, Marianna,

0:51:390:51:41

you were very exasperated.

0:51:410:51:42

Do you remember? You were saying you might leave Pieter.

0:51:420:51:45

-Did you know that, Pieter?

-Yes.

0:51:450:51:46

I told him, yeah. It's hard.

0:51:460:51:49

You can't cope and you can't find help, and I end up being ill.

0:51:490:51:53

So, you know, I can't help him -

0:51:530:51:55

at least let me... Let's save myself.

0:51:550:51:57

If he's intent on destroying himself,

0:51:570:51:59

there are limits on what you can do.

0:51:590:52:01

So, there is a point at which

0:52:010:52:03

it's reasonable and ethical...

0:52:030:52:06

-To leave him.

-..for you to walk away.

0:52:060:52:08

But that point should be when I...

0:52:080:52:10

I know that I've done everything in my power.

0:52:100:52:14

I don't want to have any regret.

0:52:140:52:15

It's a happy ending.

0:52:170:52:18

Yes, let's hope.

0:52:180:52:19

Well, so far, so good.

0:52:190:52:20

We have to be honest and...

0:52:200:52:23

-You know.

-It's ongoing work.

0:52:230:52:24

So, on a day-to-day basis,

0:52:240:52:27

just keep on doing what we do

0:52:270:52:29

and, over time...

0:52:290:52:31

that will tell.

0:52:310:52:32

I was making a last visit to Aurelie on her birthday.

0:52:410:52:45

She was turning 45.

0:52:450:52:47

I found her at a Brixton churchyard with her dog, Romeo,

0:52:470:52:51

and her boyfriend, Gary.

0:52:510:52:53

-Hello.

-Happy birthday.

-Thank you.

0:52:530:52:55

-Thank you very much.

-How do you feel?

0:52:550:52:58

Young.

0:52:580:52:59

Good. How's Gary doing?

0:52:590:53:01

Gary is all right, he's still alive.

0:53:010:53:04

-Are you all right, Gary?

-Gary!

0:53:040:53:06

Did you have a little argument today?

0:53:080:53:11

No, he went to see his ex-girlfriend yesterday.

0:53:110:53:13

I've been shagging my ex-girlfriend all night.

0:53:130:53:15

Say that again.

0:53:150:53:16

I've been shagging my ex-girlfriend all night.

0:53:160:53:18

I done it proper.

0:53:180:53:20

Yeah!

0:53:200:53:21

AURELIE LAUGHS

0:53:210:53:22

What a thing to say? Why would you say that in front of Aurelie?

0:53:220:53:25

-Because she...

-SLURS WORDS

0:53:250:53:27

That's what alcoholics do.

0:53:270:53:29

Happy birthday, anyway.

0:53:290:53:30

If I may ask you a personal question -

0:53:370:53:39

what's the appeal of Gary?

0:53:390:53:41

When he's around, I feel like a bit of family type of things.

0:53:410:53:45

I mean, if he's undermining you

0:53:450:53:47

and saying hurtful things,

0:53:470:53:48

why do you stay with him?

0:53:480:53:50

Because, at the end of the day,

0:53:500:53:51

I stop and think about myself and I say,

0:53:510:53:53

"Who wants to go out with an alcoholic anyway?

0:53:530:53:57

"Who wants to go out with somebody

0:53:570:53:58

"who wakes up in the morning and starts drinking?

0:53:580:54:01

"Who wants to go out with somebody that's, you know,

0:54:010:54:04

"overweight around the stomach because of alcohol?

0:54:040:54:07

"Who wants to go out, maybe,

0:54:070:54:08

"with somebody who can't even have children

0:54:080:54:10

"because of the destruction of alcohol."

0:54:100:54:14

It's not very attractive, really, to be honest.

0:54:140:54:17

Right.

0:54:170:54:19

Well, it seems so clear

0:54:190:54:20

that your relationship with alcohol is destructive

0:54:200:54:24

and massively damaging your health

0:54:240:54:26

and your relationships.

0:54:260:54:28

Isn't it clear that you need to stop?

0:54:280:54:30

Whether you taper out or however you do it -

0:54:300:54:32

that you just need to get on a different track?

0:54:320:54:34

I think I'm more afraid of stopping than to die.

0:54:340:54:39

So, that's why I'll drink,

0:54:390:54:41

just to bring me back a bit of confidence.

0:54:410:54:44

If you stopped, what would happen?

0:54:440:54:46

I'd be a completely different person.

0:54:480:54:50

I mean, I'm 45.

0:54:500:54:52

I started drinking when I was 15,

0:54:520:54:54

so it's 30 years of constant abuse, you know?

0:54:540:54:58

It's like trying to take the roots out of a tree.

0:54:580:55:02

It will never work.

0:55:020:55:04

Alcohol, for those addicted to it, is a kind of infatuation.

0:55:170:55:23

It ends up displacing other relationships,

0:55:230:55:25

becoming inseparable from your sense of who you are

0:55:250:55:28

until a different, better life

0:55:280:55:30

no longer looks possible.

0:55:300:55:32

For some, it is terminal...

0:55:330:55:35

..but I'd also seen change could happen.

0:55:370:55:39

-Hey, Louis.

-How are you doing?

-I'm good, how are you?

0:55:390:55:42

-Good to see you.

-Nice to see you.

0:55:420:55:44

'Joe was back in Brighton where he was living with his dad,

0:55:450:55:48

'having finally embraced recovery...

0:55:480:55:50

'..but the road to rehab hadn't been straightforward.'

0:55:520:55:57

So, when we last saw you,

0:55:570:55:58

you were not in a good way.

0:55:580:56:00

No.

0:56:000:56:01

You were in hospital...

0:56:010:56:03

-going into detox.

-Yeah.

0:56:030:56:06

Now, am I right in thinking that,

0:56:060:56:07

after we left you,

0:56:070:56:08

you discharged yourself from hospital?

0:56:080:56:11

I... Yeah, I mean, the whole thing is kind of a bit blurry.

0:56:110:56:13

I mean, it's...

0:56:130:56:14

And you did wind up in the park for a night?

0:56:140:56:17

Yeah, that's right.

0:56:170:56:19

And a side street.

0:56:190:56:20

So, you went back and drank again?

0:56:220:56:24

Yeah, I think so.

0:56:240:56:26

It's hard to, kind of, explain

0:56:260:56:27

how obsessed I became about the idea of it.

0:56:270:56:30

You probably remember better than I do.

0:56:300:56:33

HE LAUGHS

0:56:330:56:34

I'm sorry to laugh, but it was just...

0:56:340:56:37

It's not a funny thing.

0:56:370:56:39

I was completely crazy.

0:56:390:56:41

For me,

0:56:410:56:43

and I think for anyone who is...

0:56:430:56:45

close to someone going through something like that...

0:56:450:56:49

there's this feeling of wanting to help and not knowing how to.

0:56:490:56:53

Do you have any insight into...?

0:56:530:56:54

How is someone supposed to support you when you're in that condition?

0:56:540:56:59

There is no way, that I see,

0:56:590:57:00

for someone like me...

0:57:000:57:02

..that you can do anything that will have any long-term impact.

0:57:030:57:08

My family and friends felt,

0:57:080:57:10

as best they could,

0:57:100:57:12

that they needed to withdraw.

0:57:120:57:15

It became quite apparent to me I was on my own

0:57:150:57:17

and the motivation for me had to come from getting to a place

0:57:170:57:21

where I was really on the verge of losing everything.

0:57:210:57:24

-Yeah.

-You turned it around.

0:57:240:57:26

Well, for now. Yeah. And I know...

0:57:260:57:28

I know that sounds really glib.

0:57:280:57:30

No, it's...

0:57:300:57:32

-I feel... I feel comfortable and safe.

-Yeah.

0:57:320:57:35

Safety is such a strange and elusive sensation.

0:57:350:57:41

Most people, I don't think, even think about it.

0:57:410:57:44

But I've felt, for quite a long time,

0:57:440:57:47

kind of on the edge of something,

0:57:470:57:48

even when I wasn't in it -

0:57:480:57:50

like I was...

0:57:500:57:52

I just felt off kilter and anxious,

0:57:530:57:56

and like everything was either going at 100 miles an hour

0:57:560:58:00

or wasn't going quick enough -

0:58:000:58:02

and I just feel OK...

0:58:020:58:05

..which is nice.

0:58:070:58:08

# Darling, you send me

0:58:100:58:14

# I know you send me

0:58:150:58:19

# Darling, you send me

0:58:200:58:23

# Honest, you do

0:58:240:58:26

# Honest, you do

0:58:260:58:27

# Honest, you do

0:58:270:58:28

# Whoa

0:58:280:58:31

# You send me

0:58:310:58:34

# Whoa

0:58:340:58:36

# You send me

0:58:360:58:39

# Honest, you do. #

0:58:390:58:41

Louis Theroux spends time at King's College Hospital in London - a specialist liver centre - where he immerses himself in the lives of patients in the grips of alcohol addiction and the medical staff trying to make them better.

Most people associate addictions with illegal substances, but it's alcohol which is the most common addiction in the UK.

Many of us drink- sometimes more than we ought to, but the patients Louis meets at King's are drinking far more than normal, sometimes to the point of self-destruction. Louis explores the effects this is having on the patients' lives and the consequences for their loved ones when drinking loses the social aspect and becomes a potentially fatal compulsion.

It's hard to know why people become addicted to alcohol and why it is impossible for some to stop drinking, even when it is killing them. To outsiders it may seem like an easy decision but it is nowhere near that simple. Louis spends time with patients and their families as they struggle to find a way out of their addiction to alcohol before it's too late.


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