May 27, 2021 – So where did my aversion come from? I can’t point to a specific piece of media or any one encounter that made me think 12-step programs wouldn’t be right for me. (Well, maybe the episode of South Park when Randy gets sober, and the boys eventually show him that he became more addicted to being sober than he had been to drinking.) Somehow, across many films and television shows and cultural references, I had absorbed the idea that 12-step programs were sad, gray rooms filled with sad, boring people who introduced themselves as alcoholics and were greeted by the group in droll or hushed tones.

While the introduction part is true, I was surprised to find 12-step meetings to be incredibly fun places full of vibrancy and community. After swearing off these programs entirely, I now have five years sober, and still go to two meetings every week. Representations of addiction are not scarce – but good representations are. To me, Sound of Metal provides us with a beautiful portrait of how addiction, relapse, and recovery work – without Ruben ever picking up a drug.

At the start of the film, we learn that Ruben has been sober for four years. When he loses his hearing, his girlfriend (and bandmate) Lou recognizes that he is in a crisis, and that he will need treatment and support. She calls his sponsor, who finds a recovery center for deaf addicts.


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