Patrick Gower: On Booze is not the alcohol documentary we need

OPINION: While journalist Patrick Gower is no stranger to documenting drug use in New Zealand, Patrick Gower: On Booze promises to be different. This, we are told, is personal.

While stating that the effects of alcohol can be more harmful than heroin, Gower promises viewers that he will be forced to examine his own drinking habits in the hour-long documentary.

While Patrick Gower: On Booze briefly examines alcohol-related health issues, it barely touches the surface.


While Patrick Gower: On Booze briefly examines alcohol-related health issues, it barely touches the surface.

As someone who has lost a brother to heroin and a mother to alcohol, I have seen the effects of both with my own eyes. It was promising that a well-known and well-respected journalist was so open about his own dangerous drinking.

Patrick Gower: On Booze had the potential to be revealing, honest and a powerful investigation into a pervasive problem in this country.

That’s why it’s such a shame that he missed the mark in so many ways.

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It was a show about Gower – a self-confessed alcoholic, yes. But an alcoholic with no consequences, no health issues, and what seemed like a very “easy” ability to quit.

Gower’s story just isn’t deep enough to make an impact. Potential health issues were briefly discussed, followed by the reporter’s uneventful health checkup.

I have pictures of my own mother who has jaundice and is dying of liver damage, and they’re not pretty. Hospitals are filled with cirrhosis and dementia patients who suffer from the lifelong effects of alcohol. The harsh realities of the long-term effects of alcohol consumption can be discovered in conversation with any nurse. A doctor telling Gower he’s lucky to be healthy doesn’t have the same effect.

This documentary focused largely on out-of-control social binge drinking, but glossed over the very common, yet harmful, daily or regular drinker whose habits can have a dangerous effect on their health, livelihoods, and livelihoods. subsistence and their families.

By putting Gower at the center of this documentary, an opportunity was missed to focus on other very real and very harmful effects of alcohol.

The viewer saw Gower getting “screwed up” in a student apartment, but there was little mention of overcrowded hospitals and none of domestic violence.

While Gower spoke to a psychologist about how he didn’t want to quit drinking, the fact that the problem of drinking at home is a generational problem with a massive effect on Kiwi children did not. makes the difference.

Patrick Gower: On Booze focuses heavily on Gower's drinking problems, but does not examine the deeper impacts of New Zealand's drinking culture.


Patrick Gower: On Booze focuses heavily on Gower’s drinking problems, but does not examine the deeper impacts of New Zealand’s drinking culture.

While Gower’s reasoning, denial and then coming to terms with his own drinking habits took up most of the documentary, a quick run with the police and an appearance at an AA meeting warranted fleeting scenes.

There have been some great and interesting times here. Gower’s admission that his drinking started as a cover for lack of confidence will resonate with many, I’m sure. Author Lotta Dann and No Beers Who Cares founder Claire Robbie have some insightful and insightful things to say about New Zealand’s drinking culture and their own relationship with alcohol. It would have been good to see more of this, as a broader response, rather than an intervention from Gower.

I commend Gower for his honesty and willingness to deal with his own drinking problem. It is both courageous and important to speak openly about the issues that countless Kiwis face behind closed doors.

As a documentary about a man quitting alcohol, it has merit. I can’t help but question how easily Gower found sobriety.

Ironically, Gower’s journey through life without booze once the cameras are off and life gets rough may make a documentary more relevant to some.

But there really is a need for a really thoughtful documentary about the drinking culture and the way we drink in New Zealand. Unfortunately that’s not it.

Patrick Gower: On Booze will be followed by an hour-long panel discussion with Gower and experts at 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 15. It will apparently touch on topics that weren’t covered in the documentary. I sincerely hope.

Since writing about my own mother’s alcoholism, I have been encouraged to attend an Al-Anon meeting, held for family and friends of alcoholics. I would like Gower to join me in seeing another, often overlooked, aspect of the effects of hazardous drinking in New Zealand.

Where to get help for addiction

About Michael Brafford

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