Addiction On The Big Screen – Denzel Washington’s Flight


Flight is the story of Whip; a pilot played by Denzel Washington. After a night taking cocaine and drinking, he has a drink and a nap whilst in charge of a plane which suffers from a systems failure. HE manages to crash land the plane, but many are killed and he is rendered unconscious. When he wakes up he is told how his “heroics” saved so many lives. HE nearly escapes the blame for his irresponsible actions, but admits it was his fault and goes to prison, where he receives help for his addictions.

Flight has raised questions about alcohol abuse and addiction amongst professionals and seemingly “high fliers.” Is alcohol a problem if someone can still carry on with their everyday jobs, or will one always end affecting the other?

are often very good at hiding their drinking. From always being well equipped with alcohol that doesn’t smell like vodka or the ubiquitous packet of mints or chewing gum, the alcoholic will often seek out ways to cover their drinking habits from their family and friends. Scared of the stigma, and often in denial, an alcoholic will try very hard not to let others see the extent of their drinking.

Being able to hold down a good job, positions of authority, maintaining a home, family and a façade of normality is often enough justification to a function alcoholic that their drinking isn’t a problem. They may not drink at work, but  whilst the kids are still up, or have a drink as soon as they wake up, but may people have a very real problem despite maintaining an image that is much to the contrary.
Behind closed doors may show a different picture. Whilst the alcoholic thinks their drinking is not a problem, but those close may see it differently. Alcoholics can be very difficult to live with. Addiction causes paranoia and obsessive behaviour. Alcohol is a depressant that can cause mood swings, erratic behaviour and behaviour that is out of character. The addiction may also cause havoc with finances, with an alcoholic spending money not just on alcohol, when under the influence erratic spending can also become a big problem. Gambling often goes hand in hand with alcohol addiction, and serious error of judgements being made in many situations.

The ramifications of drinking on the job – especially in a position where you are responsible for the safety of others are huge. Some have criticised Flight saying how unrealistic a pilot drinking in the cockpit is, but there were several cases in the US in the 1990’s where pilots were found to be drinking on duty.

There was also some outrage from Pilots seeing their profession shown in such a negative light – but it could have been any – alcohol addiction is far more common especially amongst those with high pressured jobs. Some many see their heavy drinking as part of the”Work hard, play hard” mentality favoured by high achievers. Alcoholism is an addiction seen in all walks of life, from the richest to the poorest. It has no respect for class, status or rank.
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