Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood

“It’s official, old buddy. I’m a has-been.”

Truth and fiction collide in Quentin Tarantino’s take on the Manson family’s pursuit of revenge against the rich and famous. Actor Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) along with his partner and stunt double, Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) move in next-door to Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie) in hopes that they will become permanent residents of Hollywood.

Rick’s Problem
He’s got a bit of a speech impediment when he isn’t reading off a script; he’s a bit narcissistic; and he’s a little emotional.

…He’s an actor.

In all seriousness though, Rick utilizes liquid courage in ways that some practitioners might consider unhealthy. Let’s dive into this substance issue.

Alcohol Use Disorder
Quarantine has taught us many things; one of them is that alcohol to enjoy isn’t necessarily a problem, but alcohol to escape? That’s a problem. Though legal to imbibe as long as you’re 21 (or 18 over in Europe or 16 with a convincing fake ID) and as long as you’re not about to operate a motor vehicle or perform neurosurgery, alcohol takes a huge toll on the body.

  • Physiological –
    Long-term alcohol use can deplete vital nutrients such as your supply of vitamin B. Brain fog, characteristic of nasty hangovers, might settle in as alcohol-induced dementia. The constant struggle of your liver might lead to liver failure; and many cases of heart failure can be blamed on years-long debacles with the demon drink.
  • Psychological –
    People with depression and anxiety often medicate with alcohol, but this is a catch-22. Alcohol leads to exacerbations of depressive and anxiety disorders, making this “medicine” more of a crutch than a cure. Alcohol can induce psychosis and lead to poor judgments that end in violence or legal trouble.

…Is it a Problem?
It’s hard to say as an outsider if someone has a drinking problem. The rule of thumb I use is, if you think you have a problem, you probably do. That doesn’t mean you have to whisk off to the nearest Alcoholics Anonymous gathering, but it does mean you might want to at least tweak your habits a bit. 

Alcohol use as a problem is often characterized by physical withdrawal symptoms when someone doesn’t drink for awhile. They get sweaty, shaky, nauseous, and can even have seizures or hallucinate. Rick doesn’t do any of these things, but he does scream at himself in a trailer and scream at strangers while holding a pitcher of margaritas.

It can be argued that either Rick drinks a lot and it doesn’t contribute to his insecurities, or he drinks a lot and it doesn’t contribute. Drinking doesn’t have to be a problem as long as you’re not relying on it as a solution.

I’m not trying to bum you out, Readers. I took a long break from drinking to get my mental health in order and I do imbibe occasionally, but drinking responsibly means being fully aware of the consequences every time you take a sip – and the problem surfaces when we realize that most people don’t actually understand the damage that alcohol can do when its use is left unchecked.

On that note, do whatever works for you. And if you’re going to drink, drink responsibly.


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