Rachel Getting Married and Substance Addiction

Rachel Getting Married and substance addiction

The film Rachel Getting Married, is about Kym Buchman, a young addict (portrayed by Anne Hathaway) who gets the weekend off from a residential substance abuse and addiction treatment program so that she can attend her sister Rachel’s (Rosemarie DeWitt) wedding. The movie is a poignant look at substance abuse disorder, and how the roots of addiction can stem from unresolved trauma.

During the reception dinner’s rehearsal, Kym toasts the bride and groom, Rachel and Sidney (Tunde Adebimpe), and while doing so makes an amends, which is the ninth step of AA’s 12-step principles. The ninth step says, “Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.”

Kym’s heartbreaking toast  to the happy couple is more of a narrative than an amends. She tells the wedding party and guests the story of how, at the age of 16, she accidentally killed her little brother, Ethan, while she was loaded on Percocet. While driving her little brother home from a park outing, she drove her car off a bridge. While she survived, her little brother drowned. During the toast, Kym expresses resentment towards herself and at Rachel, whose happiness she envies, by saying, “And I struggle with God so much that I can’t forgive myself. And sometimes I don’t want to believe in a God that could forgive me. That I do. I want to be sober. I’m alive and I’m present and there’s nothing controlling me.  If I hurt someone I hurt someone. I can apologize and they can forgive me. Or not. But I can…. Change. And I just want to share that and say: “congratulations that God makes you look up. I’m so happy for you. But if he doesn’t. Come here. That’s all. Thank you.”

While amends can be cathartic, they are included in the ninth step, for a reason. It’s important to work through the steps, one by one, starting with the first step.

Additionally, the ninth step says, making amends should be direct, “except when to do so would injure them or others.”

With the entire wedding party and guests present at the dinner, Kym’s speech is more a cry for help. Lets not forget that Kym was an addict before Ethan’s death. When she is ready to make the amends, which I imagine are towards her sister, its best for her to be in a private environment with Rachel.

Additionally, (spoiler alert!) Kym’s substance addiction causes the wedding guests to steer their attention away from Rachel, while they focus on her.  Her father, Paul is extremely worried about Kym, and that takes his focus away from Rachel. After a painful confrontation with her mother Abby (played by Debra Winger), Kym attempts suicide.

While Kym and Rachel end up reconciling, Abby cannot absolve her daughter, nor realize her own part in Ethan’s death. (Abby knew Kym was loaded that tragic day).

As a recovering alcoholic, this movie makes me realize how important it is for addicts to get the right treatment. Kym has been in and out of rehab for years, and something is not working.

While Kym says she wants to be sober, she doesn’t quite know how.  If anything, she needs a comprehensive residential treatment program, which includes clinical evidence-based treatment, dual diagnosis support, as well as 12-step facilitation.  Her misunderstanding of the steps is more detrimental to her recovery, than helpful.  While Kym needs to accept responsibility for her past deeds, as well as learn self-forgiveness, she exhibits symptoms of PTSD, anxiety and depression. These co-occurring disorders require dual diagnosis support, and Kym could also benefit from therapy that is geared to help clients who suffer from trauma.

Rachel Getting Married shows how important it is for an addict to get the proper treatment. It reveals how family dynamics can cause confusion for the addict, as well as for family members. It’s important for families to get help, and for addicts to be in a safe environment while they work on themselves, and develop the proper tools that they can utilize in their lives, when they leave rehab.

At Cycles of Change Recovery Services, we provide clinical evidence-based treatment for substance addiction, and for co-occurring disorders, as well as 12-step facilitation. We offer a holistic approach that treats the mind, body and spirit.

If you are an addict or a concerned family member, please do not hesitate to contact us.  We look forward to helping you.

Cycles of Change Recovery Services Las Vegas Office