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The Alcoholic

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It takes a lot of beer to get a 1,200-pound horse drunk.
Alcohol, my permanent accessory
Alcohol, a party time necessity
Alcohol, alternative to feeling like yourself
Oh alcohol, I still drink to your health...
Barenaked Ladies, "Alcohol"

WHERE'S MY BOURBON?

This person likes their liquor, and in large amounts. They may realize they have a problem, and get on and Off the Wagon, or they may be a Drunken Master, and this is merely a part of their "training", or a result of their — "skills".

Sometimes, this character is merely Drowning Their Sorrows and will bounce back later in the series. Other times, they've been this way from the beginning and have no plans to stop anytime soon. Worried friends may try to help by Nailing Them to the Wagon, though this attempt at forcing them to go Cold Turkey will result in delirium tremens (hence why it is a tradition in psychology that when rehabilitating someone, do it step-by-step).

Real Life alcoholics are not always lying in the gutter — sometimes they are just people who drink alone, or for the sake of drinking, but never appearing to drink to excess (due to tolerance). Commonly, alcohol is drunk due to its effects as an anti-anxiety drug. It is entirely possible that successful people may be alcoholics on the inside. The High-Functioning Alcoholic is proof that sometimes you cannot tell an alcoholic by mere appearance, and they may be in fact be in lofty professions such as law and politics (both highly associated with alcoholism; there are even specialized help lines and recovery networks for lawyers and judges needing help with alcohol and drug use). Hollywood, however, prefers the "Straw Boozer" form: someone wandering the streets in a stupor with a bottle in their hand is more obvious and pathetic than a high-functioning alcoholic who usually stays in their room with a glass in hand contemplating.

Many fictional alcoholics experience Pink Elephants — another trope that only loosely touches on the reality.

There is no known cure for alcoholism. Someone who has managed to quit the habit is considered a recovering alcoholic, and if committed to it, remains in whatever therapy he or she used to become sober. That said, there are people who quit without therapy, or who stay sober without therapy, as well as some (very) rare people who don't become sober but do become moderate and responsible drinkers (and their mere existence is controversial to the point of Flame Wars over whether they are "in denial" or if it really is possible to drink responsibly once having become addicted).

Note that making a Real Life actual alcoholic (as in a physically addicted to alcohol one, not just an emotionally addicted one or ordinary irresponsible drinker) go cold turkey is putting their life at risk, as alcohol withdrawal can lead to delirium tremens, which, if untreated, results in death. Physically addicted alcoholics must be tapered off of alcohol, slowly reducing the amount they drink, or weaned from it in a proper hospital setting where if they begin to go into delirium tremens, it can be treated.

The Always Female versions are Hard-Drinking Party Girl and Lady Drunk, but alcoholism is only one of her character traits. The Alcoholic Parent is a parent who happens to be an alcoholic.

Compare The Stoner, Drunken Master, Vodka Drunkenski, Hard-Drinking Party Girl, Off the Wagon, Beergasm, Quick Nip, I'll Tell You When I've Had Enough!, and Addled Addict. As you'd probably expect, the Drunk Driver often comes into play. If the whole plot is about how a character became an alcoholic, it's an example of Descent into Addiction, and if said alcoholism is vilified, count on there being an Anti-Alcohol Aesop. Oddly, there are "alcoholics" who can get drunk off of milk. The Teetotaler is the direct opposite.

We also have a Useful Notes page on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse.

noreallife


Example subpages:

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    Advertising 
  • Berman, of the Magic Bullet infomercials, is quite obviously hungover when he stumbles into the kitchen. He's the drunk of the whole shebang.

    Arts 
  • The Bacchus by Michelangelo Buonarroti makes it clear the titular god is smashed by capturing him with his goblet raised to the heavens, his eyes rolled into his skull, and his head nearly tilted off. The guy is even holding the fur of a tiger, an animal classically synonymous with wine-making grapes. His satyr companion seems pretty undisturbed by his master's inebriation, hinting that this is Bacchus' default state.

    Audio Plays 
  • Downplayed, but in Starboard it's implied by Chauncy that Reginald's main vice when he was a duke was brandy, and indeed he starts the first episode severely hungover.

    Comedy 
  • Foster Brooks made a career of jokes built around his heavy drinking. This was often played off as Fair for Its Day, with Brooks explaining that he had mixed up his dates and would never have intentionally shown up in this condition.
  • Christopher Titus described his dad as always having a beer in hand, including funerals, waterskiing and PTA conferences. It's a firmly established part of his childhood memories that associates the can opening up with his dad saying something soul crushing.
  • Dean Martin used to do his act seemingly drunk with a glass of whisky (usually claimed to have actually been apple juice, though stories vary) in his hand, but while he wasn't a teetotaler, he wasn't the lush he pretended to be either. The HBO movie "Rat Pack" lampshades this rather hilariously: the camera pans up the side of the Sands hotel, showing glimpses of what's going on in everyone's room: Sammy has a girl and a drink, Peter has a girl and a drink, Joey has a girl and a drink, Frank has two girls and a drink ... and at the very top is Martin, sitting in bed alone watching TV, drinking a glass of milk.
  • Robin Williams would play his prior addictions for laughs.
    Robin: When I became a reformed alcoholic I realized I'm the same asshole. I just have fewer dents in my car.
  • Craig Ferguson, a recovering alcoholic, has joked about his antics when he was still abusing alcohol and drug back in Scotland.

    Comic Strips 
  • 91:an Karlsson: Major Morgonkröök often keeps a bottle on him, and frequently gets into arguments with the army doctor Krank due to his drinking habit. In one of Rudolf Petersson's strips, it is revealed that he also hoards his emptied bottles to the point where 91 managed to find about 100 liters' worth of empty bottles in various sizes while cleaning his office once.
  • Hi and Lois has Thurston, next-door neighbor to the Flagstons, whose fondness for the bottle has earned him the nickname "Thirsty".
  • In PVT Murphy's Law, a brigade of troops coming back from a long deployment overseas find themselves craving alcohol so badly that back in the US, a beer company executive bolts upright in bed because he can feel a great disturbance in the force. This has actually happened twice in the comic so far.
  • The Wizard of Id has Bung, named after a wine cask's stopper, (and the other characters call him "sot", which is a historical word for "drunk" more often than they call him by his name) who is almost perpetually drunk, although that apparently doesn't (usually) stop him doing his job competently. In one strip, the King describes the most remarkable part of Bung's act as, "he sobered up."

    Fairy Tales 
  • Alexander Afanasyev's "Little Master Misery": Misery has one only goal in its life: getting drunk...with someone else's money. It'll latch on to some poor loser and will pester him into going to the local tavern to drink every day until its poor victim has run out money and things to pawn.

    Films — Animation 
  • Uncle Waldo from The Aristocats. He is first seen being chased out of a restaurant as an attempt to avoid being killed and eaten as part of a dish called "Prime Country Goose a la Provençale" that apparently involved him being "stuffed with chestnuts and basted in white wine." And because of the latter, Uncle Waldo actually became extremely drunk as a result of this. While it may not seem to be an example (after all, he may have been forced to drink it), he clearly ingested enough for one of the cats to lampshade it, and he even notes that he has a preference. Later on, near the end of the movie, he's in 'Everyone Wants to Be a Cat,' and either he's still drunk... or he's found something else.
  • Ratigan's henchman Bartholomew from The Great Mouse Detective. In his short amount of screentime, he's already drunk the first time we see him and he's sad which he runs out of his beverage, then when Ratigan pours champagne into his fountain he immediately runs over to drink from it, ultimately his intoxicated state leads to his demise — he accidentally calls Ratigan a rat (which Ratigan hates) and is fed to his pet cat.
  • Evelyn of Incredibles 2 is implied to be alcoholic. She has a permanently disheveled appearance with eye bags and several of her scenes involve her drinking. One scene has her having a heart-to-heart with Elastigirl late at night nursing a drink, and her acting casually tipsy (slightly drawn out words, big arm gestures, kind of slow to follow Elastigirl's thought process, etc).
  • Aline in Mars Express. She has quit drinking, and every machine detects she has enabled sobriety mode (this is a sci-fi setting). As the case she is working on becomes stressful she disables that and starts drinking all the time.
  • King Stephen's minstrel from Sleeping Beauty while entertaining and serving King Stephen and Hubert he sneaks drinks of their wine, and sneaks more any chance he gets. It gets to the point where he fills his lute with the wine and eventually passes out from intoxication.

    Magazines 
  • Kopalny, one of the mascots of the Top Secret magazine, is a lovable bum who loves beer and has frequent hangovers, and spends most of the time complaining about having to work menial jobs around the office.

    Music 
  • Daughtry's video for "Over You" has the main character, Sarah. Her drinking problem causes herself and her boyfriend to get in a car crash and the video ends with her seeking help at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.
  • In Gang of Youth's "Achilles Come Down", Achilles is warned to put down his bottle, as what he finds in it will only tell him "chaos, confusion" that is not worthy of listening to. A bit of Reality Subtext as the singer was drunk on the night he attempted (and failed) suicide.
  • Glenn Miller signature tune Little Brown Jug, which is an old folk song about alcoholism.
  • Elvis Costello's "Beyond Belief" is very clearly being narrated by someone on the verge of a drunken stupor: "So in this almost empty gin palace / In a two-way looking glass, you see your Alice." The singer himself once got into serious trouble because of remarks he made while inebriated. The lyrics to "Man out of Time" are also noticeably booze-sodden: "You drink yourself insensitive and hate yourself in the morning.
  • Dice has an album called The 40 Made Me Do It.
  • Ozzy "The Prince of Darkness" Osbourne. His songs "Suicide Solution" and "Demon Alcohol" are about this. "Suicide Solution" doubles as an I Thought It Meant as it describes alcohol as a solution in chemical meaning (a stuff where other substances have been dissolved) which slowly kills you, not suicide as a solution in meaning of "resolving your problems".
  • The subject of Jimmie Rodgers' A Drunkard's Child, as the title suggests, is about the child of a man who became an alcoholic and then abandoned his family.
  • Gary Stead, from the Saint Etienne Concept Album Tales From Turnpike House. He spends most of the album as a comedy alcoholic in the Barney Gumble mould (in "Milk Bottle Symphony" he "staggers downstairs with a heavy head", i.e. a hangover), but eventually "Last Orders For Gary Stead" reveals him to be Drowning His Sorrows over an awkward divorce.
  • The unnamed subject of Richard Thompson's bitter, brilliant "God Loves A Drunk." Notable for the balance of the portrayal — while drunkenness itself is portrayed very harshly, the eponymous drunk is treated quite sympathetically and gets to do his own lashing out against the banal nature of the life he's escaping.
  • The narrator in Bob Dylan's "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues" may or may not be, as might the narrator in "Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again." The narrator in "Moonshiner" definitely is.
  • Tom Waits professed to alcoholism earlier in his career: songs like "The Piano Has Been Drinking (Not Me)" and "Bad Liver & A Broken Heart" from Small Change are semi-biographical.
    "I was really starting to believe that there was something amusing and wonderfully American about being a drunk. I ended up telling myself to cut that shit out."
  • From Savatage's Streets: A Rock Opera, the main character, DT Jesus, is a junkie with an implied drinking problem as well. What motivates him to turn his life around is finding his childhood hero, a famous blues guitarist, is little more then a homeless wino.
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers ' "Porcelain" (from the album "Californication") is about an incident Anthony Kiedis observed in which he observed an alcoholic mother's drunken behavior around a young child, and to make matters worse, she was pregnant. This situation had a profound effect on Kiedis, whose father had introduced him to hard drugs at a young age, leading him to have many periods of addiction, including a relapse several years before. As he states in his book "Scar Tissue", he felt that the daughter was doomed to a life of alcoholism if the mother kept up like that (if she didn't die first). A couple of years after writing "Porcelain", Kiedis became clean, and has remained that way since, having a son several years later.
  • The Replacements (who were notorious for their drunken behavior) allude to alcoholism in songs like "If Only You Were Lonely" and "Here Comes a Regular".
  • Elton John (and his main lyricist Bernie Taupin) often played this trope for laughs, or at least as character study, in songs like "Elderberry Wine", "Social Disease", and "Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting" with the occasional tragic drunk thrown in as in "Talking Old Soldiers". Understandably, it slowed down as Taupin himself sobered up in the late 1970s and Elton followed in 1990.
  • The aptly named song "Alcohol" by the Barenaked Ladies, which opens with the line "Alcohol, my permanent accessory" pretty much sums up the attraction of drinking in the line "Alcohol, Alternative to feeling like myself."
  • "Between the Bars", and some other songs by Elliott Smith, is about this.
  • The man being sung about in "The Sadness Runs Through Him" by The Hoosiers very often drowns his sorrows.
  • Sia's "Chandelier" is about a Hard-Drinking Party Girl who uses the persona to hide her deep depression.
  • Cry Baby's mother in Melanie Martinez's Concept Album "Cry Baby" is an alcoholic who drinks because of her husband's infidelity. She's implied to be an abusive (or at least neglectful) parent. She ends up murdering her husband and tries to kill Cry Baby.
  • Tankard. A vast majority of their songs are related to beer and drunk partying.
  • Scott "Wino" Weinrich from Saint Vitus is known to have had many a problem with alcohol. He even wrote a song about it, "Dying Inside", which is quite a Tear Jerker if you suffer or know someone who suffers from alcoholism.
  • The title of The Devil Makes Three's "Old Number 7" refers to Jack Daniel's whiskey. The song is about an alcoholic who drinks a lot of it.
  • Old Red-Eyes is Back by The Beautiful South tells a tale of a sad old drunk who looks back on his life and regrets how he spent it. When he dies, every bartender in the area mourns him, and he is buried with an empty bottle of whiskey beside him.
    "Old Red-Eyes is back
    Red from the night before the night before
    Walked into the wrong bar walked into a door
    Old Red's in town
    And sitting late at night he doesn't make a sound
    Just adding to the wrinkles on his deathly frown
    They're only red from all the tears that I should've shed
    They're only red from all the women that I could've wed
    So when you look into these eyes I hope you realize
    They could never be blue."
  • Played for laughs in the song Cheeky Little Wine by the comedy band Dead Cat Bounce. In it, the singer compares the various wines he drinks to different kinds of women, and ends up drinking lighter fluid and paint.
    "Filthy little wine!
    She bad, she's nasty!
    Can't pronounce her name;
    Don't even ask me!
    In a paper bag,
    Down in an alley,
    She's a dirty little whore of a wine!

    And my wife doesn't know;
    She thinks I'm still a lawyer!
    If she found out the truth,
    It'd prob'ly destroy 'er!
    (She's gonna find out soon, anyway; we're about to lose the house.)"
  • "I Drink Alone" by George Thorogood and the Destroyers is about a man who regularly likes to drink alone.
  • "Bottle of Wine" by the Fireballs, about a wino who complains about how hard it is to ditch his wine addiction.
  • The music video for "A Reason to Fight" by Disturbed symbolises this with a guy trapped in a bottle held in his own hand. The lyrics are a more general Pep-Talk Song that could apply to a struggle against alcoholism or something else.
  • "From the Bottle to the Bottom" by Country Musician Kris Kristofferson is about a man who takes the breakup of a relationship with a women very hard and starts drinking heavily trying to get over her:
    "You ask me if I'm happy now
    That's good as any joke I've heard
    It seems that since I've seen you last
    I done forgot the meaning of the words
    If happiness is empty rooms
    And drinkin' in the afternoon
    Well I suppose I'm happy as a clam...

    Did you ever see a down and outer waking up alone...
    ...because he's never seen a single dream come true
    That's the way that I've been feelin' since the day I started falling
    From the bottle to the bottom stool by stool
    Learnin' hard to live with losin' you"
  • The subject of Bessie Smith's Me and My Gin who says they are sinning due to her drinking habits, claims to befriend any bootlegger they meet and will fight the army and navy should they ever try to get in the way of her gin.

    Pinball 

    Podcasts 
  • Harley of Find Us Alive. He drinks heavily throughout the majority of Episode 0, risks his life by stealing a bottle of vodka, drunkenly rants at O5 Command for not coming to their rescue, passes out and has to be carried back to his room, and that's just in the first episode. He denies that he has a problem—"a dependency, maybe", but hides his drinking habits from his psychologist despite Lancaster's protests.
    Harley: (drunk) ...am I an alcoholic?
    Raddagher: (also drunk) Who cares.
    Harley: I'll drink to that.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • André the Giant was notorious for his ability to drink somewhere in the region of 7,000 calories of booze each day. Thing is, being a giant that already drank a lot on principle (and had done so all his life), it took INSANE amounts of booze to get him drunk — for example, 1,428 oz (that's 119 12-oz bottles) of beer to make him pass out.
  • "Stone Cold" Steve Austin was famous for drinking multiple beers during nearly every appearance on TV.
  • Scott Hall in WCW and later WWE. That his real-life drinking problem was played for laughs left a bad taste in many viewers' mouths.
  • Jake Roberts: During his original run in the World Wrestling Federation, substance abuse problems began to mount for "The Snake," and came to a head after he left the organization. By 1996, he returned, having cleaned up and was now depicting himself as a born-again Christian who had left the bottle behind. A feud was created around his newfound sobriety, with Jerry Lawler playing the shameless antagonist. Lawler –- then a mean-spirited, arrogant heel –- constantly mocked Roberts and alleged that he had shown up at events under the influence. Roberts eventually had enough and eventually came to the arena "drunk" to lower Lawler's guard.
  • Toru Yano originally entered New Japan Pro-Wrestling's Toukon Club on account of his accomplishments in amateur wrestling but from 2004 onward he became increasingly alcoholic, to the point technical wrestling was largely beyond him. His theme is even called "intoxication".
  • Keni'chiro Arai of Dragon Gate. His initial gimmick was a hardcore fan of the Hanshin Tigers baseball team who'd drink heavily at the games. The drunk part of his gimmick slowly disappeared — then he went through a Face–Heel Turn, dropped the baseball fan part of it and became a full time alcoholic who carried bottles of beer and sake to the ring with him.
  • Hangman Adam Page rarely has a segment in AEW where he isn't drinking from a glass of beer or whiskey at some point.

    Radio 
  • Jackie "The Jokeman" Martling, Artie Lange, and especially Jeff the Drunk of The Howard Stern Show.
  • Comedy pair Hudson & Landry featured a few skits involving drunks making phone calls. Their best known skit is about a already hammered drunk ordering more liquor.
  • Barry Cryer is seen as this by everyone else on I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue. He seldom mentions it himself.
    Jack: One of the judges for this year's Beer Festival was our very own Barry Cryer. Barry sampled several dozens of different lagers, a variety of beers, and one or two champagnes, and as such, never made it to the festival.
  • The Jack Benny Program:
    • Phil Harris portrayed himself this way, once even claiming that he only drank so Jack would have something to joke about.
    • Beyond Harris, the entire band was portrayed as being a bunch of drunken reprobates, particularly guitarist Frank Remly.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer:
    • Giants are, almost to the last, hopeless drunkards in a constant state of inebriation punctuated by giant-sized hangovers, and generally fight for whoever can provide them with enough alcohol to slake their thirsts. The stated reasons for this vary between materials, but it's generally portrayed as a way of Drowning Their Sorrows from their ancient empire's collapse and their ongoing decline into extinction.
    • Mordheim: The Ruffian Henchmen from the Ostlander Mercenary warbands have taken their fellows love of alcohol to the extreme and are never sober, in fact they are rarely ever conscious. While their constant state of inebriation make them near fearless in battle, their base combat abilities tend to be compromised somewhat and are unable to use missile weapons.

    Theatre 
  • Davy Zlatic in Bandstand was one of the soldiers who liberated Dachau; now he drinks heavily to try to forget the things he's seen.
    Davy: I know there's not enough whiskey in the world to forget what I've seen. But I figure, I owe it to myself to try.
  • Cyrano de Bergerac: Ligniere. He dislikes orange juice and milk, only stays at the theater to drink four glasses of wine, he happily retires to again betake his pet vice in a tavern, and when Christian tries to save him from a trap, he’s advised to leave notice for Ligniere at five different taverns.
  • Eric in An Inspector Calls is frequently "squiffy". It's obvious to most of his family, but his mother's in total denial about it.
  • For the first two scenes (the last two, chronologically) of Merrily We Roll Along, Mary Flynn is constantly either drunk, drinking, or wishing that she were.
  • Several characters in Road can be played this way. Many of them have little to do but drink.
  • The title character of P.D.Q. Bach's The Stoned Guest, whose voice type is described as "basso blotto."
  • Tom Daley in That Championship Season has become an alcoholic drifter in the twenty years since he was part of the Fillmore High basketball team that won the Pennsylvania state championship in 1952. He is unable to hold down a steady job, and spends the team's annual reunion with their coach drinking heavily and telling the others what he really thinks of the fantasy world they inhabit.

    Toys 
  • Tamagotchi:
    • Oyajitchi is obsessed with sake, even going as far as to get Tamagotchi Planet itself drunk in the franchise's first ever Animated Adaptation, Tamagotchi Honto no Hanashi. The obsession with sake was replaced with coffee for international versions.
    • Also applies to Horoyotchi, who is fashioned after a gourd of sake, carries around a sakazuki glass, and has red cheeks and squinty eyes.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Blooming Panic, nightowl plays Never Have I Ever with the protagonist in one video call, two nights before his final exam. The next day, onionthief reveals that nightowl was Held Back in School because of his drinking problem, and he and the protagonist try to call him out for it, but nightowl enters a drunken rage and logs out because he feels betrayed by them.
  • Although he’s still in high school, Henry from Double Homework has consumed so much alcohol that his doctors have warned him to stop lest he gets cirrhosis of the liver. And as soon as the doctors revise their diagnosis so that the danger of cirrhosis isn’t so immediate, he starts drinking heavily again. In one memorable get-together with the protagonist and Lauren, Henry passes out from his drinking, allowing the other two to fool around (if they’re an “official” couple).
  • Odon in Fleuret Blanc. He tries to be secretive about it, but you can usually find him hanging around the bar, and other characters will confirm that he has a major drinking problem. This is unusual, as he's a laid-back monk who frequently preaches the importance of freeing oneself from material possessions and influences. It's one of the hints that his past is more complex than it appears: he used to be a delinquent drug addict, and though he tried to turn his life around, he's been through a lot, and can't kick his alcohol dependence.
  • Sofiya from Missing Stars is implied to be one, despite her young age. He bio mentions she really likes alcohol.

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