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How we documented Laura Hall's battle with booze

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Meredith Chambers Meredith Chambers | 11:32 UK time, Monday, 24 January 2011

I'm the executive producer of Laura Hall: My Battle With Booze. We read about Laura, like so many people, when she hit the headlines earlier this year.

Newspapers named her the "poster girl for binge Britain", while a judge even called her "despicable and rotten".

She'd become an overnight tabloid sensation for the worst possible reason - consistently getting drunk and offensive, mostly directing her drunken anger at the police, while out and about in her home town of Bromsgrove, and beyond.

Laura Hall

As so often is the case, we thought there might be more to Laura and the stories about her than the papers were saying.

We wanted to take a look at the girl behind the lurid headlines and find out whether there was more to Laura Hall, and reflect the problems that she was going through and drive discussion around them.

We felt that a documentary that did this properly would sit well on BBC Three, a channel that's proving to be a home for popular documentaries with real social purpose.

So we made contact with Laura. And true enough, when we met her, we found that she was articulate and clever, and from a good home.

Danni Davis, the director, struck up a relationship with her and was struck by the fact that Laura had real insight in to the depth of her problem with alcohol.

Laura felt the system had demonised and failed her rather than helped her. She didn't appear to be the epitome of the drunken lout.

We were fully aware she had 39 convictions, from drunk and disorderly to assaulting a constable, plus a range of public order offences - and that she could behave terribly.

But it quickly became clear that here was a girl that was vulnerable and needed help.

A magistrate even asked in court one time where the help was for Laura. Clearly Laura's was a young life that shouldn't be simply written off.

We told Laura that we wanted to film over a period of time to see if she could come good on her promise to stop drinking and go in to rehab.

She'd already sold her story for money in the past but we made it crystal clear that she would not benefit financially from making this documentary.

We told her that we would make a thoughtful film that examined the issues around her behaviour and alcoholism, which tried to show her attempts to stop and that ultimately gave a fair portrait of her.

We were clear that if she behaved badly we would show it, as this is the nature of an observational documentary, but that we would balance it.

However, throughout filming, the welfare of Laura was always of the utmost importance.

Laura saw that a film with the BBC might have the best chance of showing the other side to her. She turned down offers from other parties that had money attached.

We then went to BBC Three, where we knew that the Dangerous Pleasures season was gearing up for its second run.

This strand of documentaries, that already had broadcast films like Nicola Roberts: The Truth About Tanning and Sun, Sex And Holiday Madness, had built up a reputation for filming with young people who live life to the extreme.

These people are then prepared to share their experiences with a wider audience, and be frank about the detrimental effects their choices have on their lives.

Laura, who is very honest, and who wanted to show how destructive a force alcohol was on her life, would be an ideal part of this season.

BBC Three saw the potential in the film. Laura would speak directly to its core audience and give them a clear and stark warning of the dangers of alcohol abuse from a first person perspective, without preaching.

The programme was there to reflect real life and living in modern Britain. We set about making the film and it was a very up and down six months.

At one point we filmed her coming out of 55 hours of custody with nothing but a plastic bag, yet within weeks we saw her take the bold decision to go in to rehab.

We did work closely with Laura despite making her no promises about the shape or content of the film.

We had a thick set of protocols agreed with lawyers and editorial policy that governed our behaviour at all times.

One of the main points for us was that making this film didn't make her difficult life worse.

We took our duty of care to her very seriously and had plans drawn up if she hurt herself or others.

We were always ready to do the most responsible thing and it was clear we'd never incite her to do herself or others harm or break the law.

The film is now finished and I'm glad to say that Laura managed to get rehab therapy, and is now working towards recovering from her addiction.

Although the road has been tough and there has been obstacles to overcome, she's only 21. Her life will be hard from here on in but I hope she stays motivated.

She shows that no matter how bad an addiction seems, you can have the inner strength to fight it - but an addiction can be there for life. So I think our aims and ambitions for the film have come through.

I hope the people watching it will find that there's more to Laura Hall than we think.

I hope the film will also make people think about what more can be done to help people who harm themselves and how society treats young addicts.

Finally, I hope it makes people challenge their own behaviour and treat other people and themselves with more respect.

Meredith Chambers is the executive producer of Laura Hall: My Battle With Booze.

Laura Hall: My Battle With Booze is on BBC Three on Monday, 24 January at 9pm. The programme is part of BBC Three's Dangerous Pleasures season.

Comments made by writers on the BBC TV blog are their own opinions and not necessarily those of the BBC.

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Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    I am really impressed by the respect the documentary makers gave to the main subject of their piece...it's meaningful work. So many write others off for their frailties. It's important to give a second more thoughtful look without judgement. Thank you for your work.

  • Comment number 2.

    I am looking forward to the documentary this evening particularly after all the criticism I read over the week and weekend after Laura Hall’s relapse. I just hope the BBC have got it right and put enough emphasis on the difficulties people face with alcoholism and how the personalities of these people change so drastically in drink. Laura needs support not comdemnation.

  • Comment number 3.

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  • Comment number 4.

    Poor Girl she is been demonised for been a drunk and a lout plus she has a badge of honour of 39 convictions. what is really disgusting is the fact that we are meant to feel sorry for her, there are young men and women her age that are coming back from war with arms and legs missing.Have a real hard think because Lauar is everything that is wrong with this country today.

  • Comment number 5.

    Yes, lets have compassion for someone who:

    1. Costs the taxpayer for her (or future) kidney and other organ transplants/operations
    2. Costs the taxpayer due to the police (and courts) having to deal with her
    3. Makes it unsafe and unpleasant for people to enjoy thier town/city centres

    We all have problems in life but we dont all behave in a way that spreads these problems to others.

    Post number 4 hit the nail on the head!!

  • Comment number 6.

    Have a real hard think ronin76 and please don’t compare Laura with our brave men and women returning from conflict. I have the upmost respect for our military but it really is a separate issue. Perhaps linked by both being a product of what was wrong with our country YESTERDAY which our young men and women of today, in and out of uniform, are having to deal with. You deem to comment before the documentary has been aired, before hearing what drove Laura to drink how she drunk. Perhaps what is wrong with our country today is the ignorance displayed by so many.

  • Comment number 7.

    I went to school with Laura and in fact I spent many a night out with her before she left high school. Despite Laura’s antics when intoxicated with alcohol she was just like any good friend was. I feel where most of us grew out of the stage of drinking alcohol in the “boozing” sense, Laura did not.

    It made me angry when the media reported Laura under such a bad light. I completely understand that her behaviour was not acceptable but seeing people react to a girl that was clearly at her wits end and need help with such negativity really hit a nerve. Furthermore I find it incredibly irritating that people believe everything that the media presents to them and how they can be so judgemental. I pity the ignorance of those who are incapable of rejecting anything that the media feeds them. As I said before I do not commend Laura’s behaviour but for those who do not know her your assumptions are without doubt based upon a media perception.

    I am so happy for Laura getting her life back on track. I hope she continues to believe in herself because I know she can do it. Hopefully rehab will have provided her with the tools needed to keep up the good work. I also commend Laura for having the courage to be so public about everything that has happened where others would not. Furthermore although people may still continue judge her, as people so often do, I hope that Laura’s honesty will help others in similar situations get there life back on track. Good for you Lau! X


  • Comment number 8.

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  • Comment number 9.

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  • Comment number 10.

    dont see the issue with her being given the ban, she should have soem self control and help herself to sort herself out

  • Comment number 11.

    Also whats wrong with people having self control these days, no one is making people like laura to drink excessively

  • Comment number 12.

    I find this documentary extremely interesting I am watching myself two years ago I was 25... and looking at some of the comments on the blog so far, I find it amazing that people still have such a negative on Alcoholism.
    Its no question of willpower or self control. It both physical and mental.
    Most people who are alcoholic drown in a sea of denial about their illness and die the views and opinions British Society does not help, people need to be educated it is an illness and this is where American and other countries are ahead of us.
    I got in trouble and was refer to organisations and was told "you dont look like an alcoholic, you just drink too much, your too young, you have a good job blah blah blah" (Rubbish)
    Laura has apparently gone back to treatment in recent weeks and already media are reporting that "it's embaressing that this programme has now aired" ??????????? who cares this is a young lady trying, attempting, wanting to get well why kick her whilst she is down? If you want it, you wish get well Laura, and be able to live and enjoy life without drink. Good Luck its hard but worth it.

    Good documentary so far BBC and I like that you haven't tried to rosy over it!

  • Comment number 13.

    I'm sort of with Ronin76 , I have known many Alcoholics , none of whom have been in the media , none of home have been on TV , none of whom had residential therapy , all of whom are now sober and happy. This programme will lead those with a problem to believe they need more help than ids avaiable to them , and thereby ultimately cause more despair than hope.
    I bet she will drink again , sooner or later.

  • Comment number 14.

    I wonder where Laura got the money too travel to ayia napa on holiday! and buy all the drink, and go bowling, and pay for taxis and hotels . . . i certainly hope it wasnt the bbc 3 production company!

  • Comment number 15.

    I really admire Laura and I wish her all the luck in the world with her recovery. I know too many adults living with the disease, it's progressive and without treatment just gets worse I've also had to watch loved ones die of it. It is a killer so well done Laura you're amazing and you deserve a long and very happy life because you're worth it.

  • Comment number 16.

    Interesting documentary, thank you BBC3.

    As a father of a 21 year old daughter I decided to watch this from a parent point of view, which raised a number of questions that I hope Meredith will answer:

    * If, as stated in the programme, Laura's parents were supportive of her, why did they not appear - was this to keep the programme interesting for your target audience?

    * I appreciate that this was about Laura's battle with the booze, but she clearly had other issues - self harming? - which clearly contributed to her state. To blame the booze for everything, which seemed to be the tone of the programme, was poor

    * Where did Laura get the money to buy drink? She appeared to have 'friends' that knew how she was, but were compliant in helping her to get drunk

    * to blame the 'system' for letting her down is lazy journalism - as usual in this 'blame everyone else but me' culture, why did you not ask Laura or the (supportive) parents why they had not tried to seek help before Laura became the 'poster girl for binge Britain'?

    I was pleased (and amazed) to read there was no fee paid - quite right that you insisted on this.

  • Comment number 17.

    I am the same age as her and I really feel for her.

    Ever since I turned 16 I have been addicted to gambling and have lost all momentum and opportunities of what I wanted to do because all the money I had went in to my addiction forcing me to drip out of uni, fall out with family and it now has recently turned to alcohol as I have so far cut the gambling out but its an ongoing battle.

    Ive gambled thousands and I feel like what I want to do in life will never ever happen.

    I am now on anti-depressants and diagnosed with depression. One point I feared I was bi-polar.

  • Comment number 18.

    A very illuminating documentary.

    Having grown up with Laura I can personally attest that she is a very sweet and kind girl. I hope she takes strength from the positive comments above and ignores the transparent ignorance that peppers some of the commentary.

    Who would really choose a life of alcoholism? It's not a simple case of just giving up and immediately being happy for most.

    For those who have loved ones that experienced chronic alcoholism, I'm sure the scenes were very familiar, I think Laura was incredibly brave for putting herself out there so that people could not only understand her, but a condition that is rife in society today. You only need to look at the poliferation of drunkards in the Aiya Napa scenes, who were no better behaved... This is a useful look under the surface of many people's realities.

    Good luck to Laura and all people like her that have the courage to face up to their realities and try to make something better of themselves. Even if they don't succeed the first time, they'll get there one day. They've taken the first steps by trying, which is more than many would.

  • Comment number 19.

    I totally agree with Ronin76. She deserves zero sympathy and perhaps should count herself lucky to be alive and not in jail or dead.

    She signifies what is wrong today, no respect and an expectation that she will get help and be sorted out and that she is the victim. She needs to learn to take control of he own life and be like the rest of us, where does she get the booze and money?

  • Comment number 20.

    Did no one see what seemed like the marks of very serious self-harm on her arms, and consider that this binge drinking was simply another manifestation of self-harm? Very disappointed that this aspect was not looked at, was not questioned...she may well destroy her life permanently, she may end in prison where you can read the statistics of women who self-harm, the bigger question is WHY? why do such women harm themselves? Get real researchers...do some blinking research and ask the important questions.

  • Comment number 21.

    I think she should take responsibility for her actions instead of making excuses for her behaviour. I have zero sympathy for yobs like her, she should be in jail so the rest of the world can enjoy a quiet drink without coming across people like her. She is the type that gets paraletic and shouts abuse and starts fights. If I was her parent I would be ashamed and want absolutely nothing to do with her until she sorts her self out. Did anyone hold her nose and pour drink down her neck, no! They didn't! She did it all herself.

    I agree with JoDan, she is everything thats wrong with the world today. Abuses a substance then blames everyone but herself for the position she's in. Abuses the police when they're called because people SHOULDN'T have got to put up with her type of behaviour. Probably abuses paramedics too if they were ever called to tend to her. Its her parents I feel sorry for, watching her grow up into some lager lout.

    People like her are a drain on our resources and should be refused all kinds of medical treatment while they abuse there own bodies. Millions each year are spent on binge drinking teenagers, and I for one think it should stop. Or if they say they can't refuse to treat them them make them pay the FULL cost of there medical treatment (you wouldn't have the money for Ayia Napa then).

    People like her think the world owes them a living, well love, I say GROW UP! Get a life. I think the BBC should stop giving yobs air time on our TVs, its helping to glorify this type of culture not help put an end to it.

  • Comment number 22.

    It was difficult not to see the numerous scars up and down her arms. This supposed cry for help is just attention seeking behaviour. She needs to address her behaviour and maybe more people would like her and maybe pay her attention. Or it could be the fact that she doesn't like herself and the things she does. What she has to face upto is the FACT that no one can changer her, only she can change herself. And lets face it 99% of the population probably wouldn't want anything to do with her and her yob behaviour.

  • Comment number 23.

    My apologies, the interviewer did ask Laura about her arms. I'm really hoping that she managed to talk about what made her do that while she was in therapy, it was some of the worst scarring I'd ever seen, and there must have been truly awful experiences in her life that made her do that. I so hope that she manages to fight her demons, her desire to damage herself, and will inspire others that they may be able to do the same, with the right help, and a self felt belief that they are worth so much more, and a need to avoid a possibly terrible end. heart felt wishes Laura, it's not easy, but you are such a nice person...and heart felt wishes to all others out there in similar positions...

  • Comment number 24.

    Bravesoul: forgive my directness but your sentence 'this supposed cry for help is just attention seeking behaviour' is really not at all the case - please educate yourself about self harm in women, I think you will change your mind if you take on board the statistics in which research concludes that women who self harm have experienced severe trauma in childhood resulting from abuse, whether it be violent, sexual, or severe neglect at the hand of their closest carers, and they take it out on themselves. this is very much a female manifestation, most males coming out of such situations externalise it and are violent to others.

  • Comment number 25.

    I am sitting here and I am so shocked by what I saw..... I am in tears not only for Laura, but I know someone in very similar situation like Laura. I have read few comments ............ and I am in tears. I would like to thank Mr./Ms. C for their input ..... Well said. I am in tears. God Bless and many prayers to Laura and others that may need help. Hugss from Ella

  • Comment number 26.

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  • Comment number 27.

    This documentary adds some much needed perspective. Before I watched it, I thought out of ignorance that people like laura are shameful and low lifes who had no care for anyone but themselves. However, it is clear that Laura is not addicted to the object of alcohol but the feeling it gives her, it makes her forget her past, her worries and everything that gives her a bad feeling. I believe that if she had not discovered alcohol first she would have discovered some other drug that gave her the same feeling, it just so happens that it did happen to be alcohol and it made her feel good when she drank it. A feeling which is good is very hard to give up, especially if you do not feel good about yourself normally. These people are not the problem with this country, the lack of opportunity and bad parenting in some cases and lack of help and awareness are the problem. Why do you think that you are more likely to live in a poor area if you are an alcoholic or have had something bad or traumatic happen in your life. You don't turn to drink unless you use it to mask your true feelings. Then everyone says there are other options but are there really. Laura went on a waiting list for 'help' which ddnt inspire her at all. There isn't the same opportunity for everyone, the same in which Laura received and thats what the problem is. People like Laura already have low self esteem which then in turn is made worse by the so called help. I can't imagine that anyone who writes negative comments about her has been in her situation and they really should look at how she feels. Nor do I believe they would have her courage to admit their wrong doings and let everyone see them at their most shameful. Laura is amaizing and extremely courageous for doing this documentary as she must have known there would be ignorant people who would bash her and she has opened herself up to that in order to get her life back on track and try to give perspective on everything. I will always remember this documentary as it has given such light on someone who is a lovely person who lost her way in life through alcohol and it made her a different person but not someone she wanted to be. I hope you will continue to believe you are a worthy person and not take any notice of any negative comments as they are rubbish - the sort that fuel alcoholism which is stupid as it is them that complain about it in the first place!

  • Comment number 28.

    I started off watching this programme with little sympathy for Laura. As the documentary progressed it reminded me of how my behaviour has been in the past and how Laura's situation could easily have been my own. I'm 25 and 6 or 7 years ago my lifestyle was the same as Laura's at that age. I am also from a 'good' home. I had issues myself and if my situation had been ever so slightly different I would have been sat next to Laura in that clinic.

    I don't have an alcohol problem but Laura is a product of today's society which could easily be so many people (including your kids, friends etc).

    I'm not saying that Laura shouldn't take responsibility for her actions, of course she could. However for her drinking isn't a choice and you can only understand how lonely Laura must feel when she wakes up the next day and has that terrible sinking feeling if you put yourself in her shoes.

    I hope that the message of support get through to Laura and that she manages to find happiness and copes with this disease.

    Good luck Laura x

  • Comment number 29.

    Bravesoul, I feel you summed it up perfectly!

  • Comment number 30.

    I had not heard of her before today, when was online looking at the UK news. I live in the States now, but spent the first 30 years in the UK. Attitudes to drinking are very different in the US, I still get asked for ID at the age of 40! So I find this subject of Laura really fascinating and a discussion that I think really needs to be talked about. I don't know why Brits are in such denial of the term Alcoholism, and why someone like her is allowed to become as sad and out of control as she is. I hope you can sell the series to BBC America beeb, I have young daughters and I want them to grow up with healthy self esteem. I also find it fascinating how people have reacted to her, and how completely polarized the reaction is, I can see both sides, although I find the anti-Lauras a bit archaic in their attitudes to a disease that is rife so much of our society, we are all part of that society that has allowed it to get this bad, and sometimes there isn't anyone to blame, and why do we need to blame someone, why can't we just help sort it out and acknowledge that Alcoholism is affecting our young people.

  • Comment number 31.

    "We wanted to take a look at the girl behind the lurid headlines"
    Laura Hall is a woman, not a girl. If the same article had been written about a male, he would not have been referred to as a 'boy'.

  • Comment number 32.

    Whilst I stumbled across this programme and therefore missed any details of Laura's background, I did start out thinking that she was a waste of space and could not be helped. This view changed as Laura's view of herself changed in therapy. I was so happy that life got better for her and wish her all the best. What a journey and what a programme!! Congratulations.

  • Comment number 33.

    Good documentary. Shame it had to be a rehab outside of the UK that offered a place of a young person with alcohol problems. Is there nowhere in Britain that caters for alcoholism outside of the so called luxury places that are big on price but small on quality. It seems to me that if you have a problem with drugs and want help you can get it but if its alcohol go quietly, or in the case of Laura, noisily to your grave. Good luck Laura and continue fighting.

  • Comment number 34.

    Most of what I would like to say has been very eloquently expressed by some other thinking and feeling souls.

    What I would add is aimed at the people who criticize - could you honestly examine your own life and find yourself perfect, honestly say that you do not take your problems out on other people?

    And to those who accuse Laura of wasting public resources - I would bet that some of you smoke, overeat, eat unhealthily or otherwise bring health problems on yourself. Should you be refused help when you need it on those grounds?

    To all Laura's friends - well done for supporting her. I quite understand how you could not help her with the booze problem, you are not psychologists and I know from trying to make a close friend give up smoking that in the end you have to let people make their own mistakes and just be there when it all falls apart.

  • Comment number 35.

    @bravesoul
    to call someone who cuts their own arms "attention-seeking", shows a marked lack of empathy for your fellow human, and a fair bit of narrow-mindedness. From the general tone of your comments, I find myself hoping you aren't actually a parent. You don't sound very nice, sorry.

  • Comment number 36.

    I went to one of the so called luxury rehabs (twice) in the UK and on the third attempt went overseas to the same treatment center in Portugal a much smaller dedicated place. That was two years ago and I haven’t looked back. I often wonder why I wasted my time and money before. Good luck Laura. I got it third time of asking. I hope you don’t have to wait that long.

  • Comment number 37.

    I only started to watch this program because there was nothing else that I wanted to watch at that time on TV. As a retired police officer I was quite cynical to start with, having dealt with many a drunk over the years, but by the time Laura had been in rehab for several weeks the difference in her appearance & attitude were clear to see. It's sad that the only help she could get in the UK was 1 hour per week, useless, but it was probably better that she got away from her so called 'friends'. And when she came out & home, had her hair done etc. she looked fab. By the end of the program I was really rooting for her & I was gutted to read the end credits that after 8 months she had relapsed. However, at the start of the documentary I wouldn't have given her 8 hours never mind eight months, without a drink. If a cynical ex-bobby like me was/is willing her to 'dry out', there must be thousands of us out there feeling & thinking the same. Please Laura, you will not only let yourself down, but thousands of us who watched this. You can't tar all drunks with the same brush. A very well produced program.

  • Comment number 38.

    Well, David and C and Susie Q, you obviously have no idea what your talking about either, I don't smoke, I don't drink, I am slim (never in my life have I eaten as much as you all!) and I do have experience with self harm and thank god I am not a parent with the yob culture around at the moment. But you show how bigoted you are by your reactions to a logical response to this programme. And it shows how much you all assume which is one of the reasons this girl is in this predicament. I am a woman and I have absolutely no sympathy for her position. I have worked in pubs and seen the effects of alcohol on all different kinda of people, I have served alcoholics and they have never been loud, violent or abusive, it all depends on the person. And I wouldn't waste another moment on someone like her or you 3 who assume. My best friend used to self harm, and true self harmers are hard to spot and are ashamed of there scars, they don't openly tout them as a badge of honour like she does. My best mate had to be caught doing it and then i helped her through it, and she now no longer does it. And I hope her ban is for life more should be handed out. Only you can control your behaviour. People have got to stop making excuses for these kinds of people. I bet she used to assault people when drunk and blame it on the drink. She's the type that would go round pub to pub in a gang, like was reported recently in my local paper, get wasted and jump people. How do you justify drunks jumping a guy on his 'stag' and beating him so severely they broke his jaw... oh I was drunk. Nah. Waste of time and energy these people are, most of them get that drunk they don't remember, but thats a good night to them. The poor guy that had his jaw broke the day before his wedding will remember for a long long time. Another girl like her was arrested and kicked a police car door off with her feet, should they let her off cause she's drunk. I don't get your thinking and hope I never will. I bet you guys are the type that have kids and they can never do any wrong but I can guarantee you.... they do, every time you turn your back.

  • Comment number 39.

    Your documentary last night will certainly give fuel to those out there who short sightedly hurl the insults at those who suffer from alcoholism. I am sure they would not have listened carefully to the dialogue or wanted to understand Laura’s difficulties. They would be the same people who took delight in her relapse last week. Why are we so ignorant in this country about alcoholism? Why do we so easily condemn people with this dreadful disease? Why can’t people open their eyes to see that people like Laura are crying out for help yet as a society we just don’t offer it. I am sure that the situation in the USA would be different. In the US there is a greater understanding and a greater willingness to understand that is so sadly lacking here. Thank you Laura for taking such a huge risk and I think I now understand why you slipped in the days leading up to the documentary. I suspect the mounting pressure became unbearable. I hope you are back on track. You deserve to be. I know how difficult it is to beat this disease and I also know how many don’t make it. Thank you BBC for showing the documentary. A little bit more about her experience in rehab would have been good but overall a great piece of journalism.

  • Comment number 40.

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  • Comment number 41.

    Discussions like this demonstrate to me how much mental health issues are still so misunderstood and prejudiced against in our society. Good luck Laura, I wish you all the best for your future and hope this recent blip won't set you back.

  • Comment number 42.

    I'm afraid it is thumbs down for this woman. There is very little chance of recovery before the irreversible liver failure sets in. What finished her off was the belief that it was someone else's job to sort her out, that scarce public money was necessary, and that it was society's fault when it all went bad.

  • Comment number 43.

    In response to some of the comments here, I'd like to add that everyone on earth has problems, the most pernicious of which is a closed mind.

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  • Comment number 46.

    I am glad to see that the majority of comments are postive and supportive of Laura however there are a few that clearly show a total lack of understanding of alcohol abuse. Addiction of any kind is an illness and should be treated as such. Do any of the people making these negative comments really think that, as bravesoul suggested, throwing her in jail would help anything or would simply end up with her becoming even more self destructive upon her release? Do any of you really thinks that she wants to drink herself into oblivion night after night and be held up to the country's media as the "poster girl for binge Britain" and "despicable and rotten"? The answer to the above questions is obviously no, just the same as nobody would choose to suffer from asthma or cancer.

    Another comment that strikes me as being at odds with the reality of the program I watched was the 'badge of honour' from ronin76. Laura certainly did not come across to me as being proud of her number of court appearances, convictions or general bad behaviour, in fact, completely the opposite. What I saw was a person who was full of guilt, regret and self loathing and I can say this from experience as I also know what it feels like not to be able control my drinking, spending night upon night at the bottom of a bottle and then, when finally sober, the depression and remorse arrive which, unsurprisingly, push you towards yet another drink.

    I can see two main differences between Laura and myself. Firstly, I'm 30, have a respectable job, have never been arrested and have never been barred from a pub. Secondly, unlike Laura, I can admit it to myself that I have a problem but I'm not brave enough to admit it to anyone else, even my closest friends. More importantly I don't have the courage to do anything about it. Personally, despite her troubled past, I think this makes her a much better person than I and I wish her good luck and all the best for the future, anyone who has put themself out there for all to see in the way she has certainly deserves it.

  • Comment number 47.

    On seeing such blindly entrenched attitudes, I need a drink.

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  • Comment number 50.

    Laura's story mirrors my own, kicked out of school at 15 for drinking, home tutored, loving family, in fact aged sixteen i permanently scarred both my arms and my neck through cutting and slicing with glass. Aged 24, and still alive, i had been arrested 42 times, always a hairs breadth away from prison. Even after a month in a mental institute aged 17, i and my parents were told that i was fine, nothing wrong... I am 28 now and i have abstained from alcohol through my own willpower for two years with no help, everyday is a challenge. How people have the audacity to belittle fellow human beings who have addiction issues is beyond me. As far as i am aware none of you whom criticize Laura for her addiction are qualified in mental health therefore your opinions are without weight, null and void. Unless you can be constructive, personally, and this is simply my opinion, think before you type. =)

  • Comment number 51.

    I was very moved by this documentary. I think Laura is symbolic of a lot of young females in society. I too grew up with booze being a main focus of my life and drank heavily from a very young age until only a few years ago. It is challenging and at 15 when it starts, do you really have a clear understanding of what you are doing and where this will lead.

    I do not think this documentary is there to make us feel sorry for Laura but to see what the wider issue is in our society and to make changes.

    The criminal justice system is clearly failing people like Laura. The money spent by going to court and on police resources need to be spent on rehabilitation. Alcohol, like any other substance abuse, locking people up and not helping them partake in society (giving them job opportunities and helping them achieve goals) will only make the problem worse.

    Laura has done very well and looked amazing following rehab. Such a dramatic change.

  • Comment number 52.

    It's been really interesting reading all your feedback and opinions about the Laura Hall film - these are thoughtful views and its good to have a clear sense of the reaction to the film.

    It's clearly caused a strong reaction in comments from bravesoul (#21) and Mick (#37) and I'm glad it's created debate and made people think. There are a couple of things in particular that have come up that I thought I should address specifically.

    In terms of Laura's parents involvement, as raised by whelkmice (#16), as the film says they have stood by her and supported her but for their own reasons they decided that they'd rather not appear in the film. We fully and understand and respect their decision especially as they supported Laura's choice in making the film.

    There have also been questions raised by Lars (#14) for example, about where Laura found the money to buy alcohol. As the film says she's unemployed and we did not pay her for taking part - the truth is, as is often reported in the press, alcohol is not expensive and Laura was not the only young person with access to and consuming cheap alcohol.

    There's lots of talk in your comments on either side of the debate (from revolutionary_flower #28 to RBLondon #5) and while I hope the film speaks for itself, I think it's important that it's sparked a wider conversation about how we should treat young people and alcohol consumption as a society

  • Comment number 53.

    I felt quite emotional having watched this and really hope that Laura gets back on track.

  • Comment number 54.

    An amazing documentary about a very brave lady. This should be a lesson to "the powers that be" of how our society should view/ tackle alcohol problems amongst the young (and old). Thank god for the clinic that offered her help - which sadly most people don't have access to. Surely providing help has to be cheaper than jail/tags etc. etc. Good for Laura for going straight back to rehab when she fell off the wagon. She deserves to succeed with her battle and she clearly realises that knowledge that it is a continuous struggle. Delicately handled by the programme makers and it wasn't turned into cheap "reality tv" or a sob story. It's the bravest thing to admit one's demons. Laura showed such maturity after rehab when reflecting on 7 years of alcohol addiction at such an early age. Good luck Laura.

  • Comment number 55.

    Well done Laura Hall and the BBC for highlighting an issue which is really damaging young people in our society. To Laura, if she is reading this. You have a real opportunity to effect a change in young people's culture and particularly young women who are carrying around so much pain and pouring alcohol down their necks in an attempt to cover up suffering. I couldn't believe the transformation in you physically and intellectually post rehab. You were what could only be described as debauched and not very attractive in the early filming and your whole appearance changed so dramatically that you were almost unrecognisable: a stunningly attractive young woman at the end and your eyes were alive. Go get an education and use it to best effect for yourself and other. Your journey through life will present you will challenges along the way and if you have another relapse - get back on the horse and keep on keeping on. Well done brave young woman for facing your demons and changing your life and others around you for the better.

  • Comment number 56.

    Faye hall but no relation to Laura !! But I am a recovered alcoholic , I am amazed by some peoples response !! If they're daughter had cancer and the treatment cost the tax payer thousands what would be there opinion then ???? Alcolhlism is a fatal illness , it strips people of there lives , I say to those people with such harsh cold judgements , I hope you your children or your friends never suffer with this cruel illness !!! The pain is of the worst kind but know there is a solution and i was lucky enough to find it !! Live and let live !!

  • Comment number 57.

    Having read these comments, I find it astounding that people still have such archaic views on addiction. The General Medical Council recognizes alcoholism as a disease and a mental disorder and how someone can see fit to dismiss this on the basis that they “used to work in a pub” is beyond me.

    As an example, I cannot identify with people who suffer from depression because I have not suffered from it myself and therefore don’t understand how it feels. However, I wouldn’t ever condemn sufferers of this undoubtedly horrible mental disorder or suggest that they should just stop being so miserable. Nor would I assume it possible for them to sort themselves out without any sort of help or medical assistance.

    I am an alcoholic and I came into recovery at 25. I should have come in at 19. I spent six years drinking when I knew that I needed to stop. I had my own journey that brought me into recovery and Laura has hers. She has not refused treatment and obviously has the drive and the desire to achieve sobriety. But from experience, I know how daunting it is to envisage your life without alcohol at such a young age so the nervousness she displayed at the thought should not be assumed to be her not wanting to change.

    Addiction is not a “lack of self control”. I sit in AA meetings every day with hundreds of people who would not be there if it was an issue of “self-control”. How presumptious for DCFC79 to assume that he displays more self control that any of the millions of alcoholics worldwide. In my experience, no one shows more self-control than the addict in recovery.

    Addiction is an awful, progressive disease which kills thousands of people worldwide and by association affects many peoples’ lives. It is not something that should be ridiculed or trivialised.

    In relation to her self-harm, if it is indeed for “attention”, isn’t there something deeply wrong there? Those scars are the worst I’ve ever seen. Surely a young girl who does that to her body, regardless of the motive, deserves our sympathies rather than our vitriol?

    I really am shocked by the lack of feeling some of the posts in this blog have shown towards Laura. It shows a deep rooted lack of understanding about addiction within our society. Perhaps if we were less judgmental and ill informed, the suffering alcoholic would find it easier to seek the help he or she badly needs without the attached stigma.

    People should probably also stop reading The Daily Mail editorial and then cutting and pasting it onto here.

  • Comment number 58.

    All those people who comment that she should 'sort herself out' and 'pull it together'... isn't that sort of (I say sort of, I mean exactly) what she's doing?

  • Comment number 59.

    I was so moved by watching this programme. Last Friday I attended my brothers funeral - he died because of his alcohol addiction and I wanted to let Laura know that people do die from their addiction and it tears families apart.

    Please, please be strong Laura - you have done so well so far, you look incredible and you should be proud of yourself.

    You are very fortunate to have been given the opportunity to help yourself - do not blow it. I know first hand that the 'hour a week' solution does not help...

    I would like to see this programme played in every senior school in the UK as an example of what drinking can do to your life - it's a shame it was not prime time on BBC1!

  • Comment number 60.

    I would like to thank the BBC for such a thoughtful documentary about Laura. At last! A documentary that charts the misery caused by alcohol which ends in someone confronting themself and the addiction. What hope that will give so many people!
    I have read all the comments on here and felt moved to leave one myself. Personally I found the documentary inspiring and uplifting. Laura is a lively and intelligent woman and found the courage to face her inner pain. What an opportunity to go to the rehab, and didn't she really start to grow physically and emotionally when there. I could see her fear at the reality that she would be soon confronting herself. I saw her courage, and it gives me courage, so thank you Laura.
    I have a teenage nephew who took himself off to rural Spain to work. He made friends with the local teenagers and began socialising with them. They eventually told him that he drank very quickly and a lot. When asked why, he told them he had never thought about it, it was normal. There are pictures of him and his friends on Facebook on New Years Eve. They have suits on, and in one, they are sitting in a bar, with the bar and its bottles behind them. Each one has a coffee cup in front of them. Not one is drunk. Contrast that to mainstream teenage culture in Britain. Funny thing is, I had never really thought about it until I spoke to him on Skype. As a family, we drink a lot when we get together. The revelation has transformed him and his thinking. It has made us think too..
    I am a mother, and this programme has made me think further. I want to watch it with my teenage children. I have a very good job but have known for years I drink far too much. I have looked for help and have only found it in self help books. There is virtually nothing available to me as I am in my 40s and can't leave my children. I have found nothing locally....
    I have read some of the attacking and angry comments about Laura. I wish to thank all the people involved in this documentary, especially Laura. She has no idea yet how many people she will help by being so open. As to her 'relapse', I find that inspirational too. She is human and is taking responsibility to sort out what caused it. I have a strong feeling we will see more of Laura as she grows more confident as she does more work on herself. Perhaps another documentary in the future? Laura, you have so much to give to people. Lets face it if you can do it, you will give so much hope to people to believe they can do it too. I would love to see how your life is going to unfold, and I send all my love. Thank you.

  • Comment number 61.

    I sincerely hope laura gets her life back on track and ends up an inspiration to young people battling with binge drinking. That said, I don't understand why same kind of documentary has not been packaged for chain smokers and why there's a ''challenge 25'' for the purchase of alcohol in North West, England for instance without a similar challenge for buying cigarettes.

  • Comment number 62.

    I watched this documentary with great interest and was saddened that this girl had so little faith and positive outlook towards life in general. Her addictions to booze weren't simply social trend, as the film showed, but sadly I never felt I learned the real reason behind her anger - the reason why she turned to drink to mask her insecurities.

    Her parents wish not to appear on camera and (although not explained on film) the obvious fact she was living apart from them as well as her unemployment and lack of education all gave clear indications something had gone seriously wrong in this persons life.

    I also felt the film was a reflection of the failure the British magistrate who simply kept fining her - a waste of public money, taxes and the court's time - I felt something should have been done to help her do something with her life.

    As a 25 year old man who made a decision not to drink (I have drank in the past but choose not too) I also find it quite insulting that she felt her life was not worth living without drinking, nor was there anything to do if you weren't drunk, and this showed a massive amount of immaturity in her - something which, again, didn't really seem to be tackled during her spell in rehab (and can only be really tackled by her exposure to real life situation and the help she could receive from her family)

  • Comment number 63.

    Can I also question how, with her unemployment and with her many many convictions, how she was still able to board a plane on two occasions to go abroad in such a short time frame and she was also able to afford to go on holiday? Add to that her seemingly in exhaustive supply of alcohol and cigarettes.

    And if she was banned for drinking, surely those who provided her with drink during the course of this documentary, where breaking the law? BBC has a duty to report them all.

 

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