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Jessica Jones: A Case of Alcohol Dependency

Jessica Jones is a character that struggles with a great number of troubles in her life. She’s a former superhero who copes with having superhero strength and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which affects her ability to fly. Head of Marvel Television Jeph Loeb stated pretty directly how realistic a character she is. “She has real problems with a number of things that she abuses!” Loeb said. “And we’re not shying away from that. There’s no tidying her up.” One of the things she seems to struggle with is a dependency on alcohol that is linked to her PTSD.

The show contains several things that also may contribute to Jones’ behavior. She’s always in a bad mood. She has to go after crazy characters in her new job as a private detective. She has to see constant horrible crimes by Zebediah Kilgrave that could disturb any person. In a sense, it’s not surprising that Jones chooses to drink regularly after a long hard day. On many occasions, she chooses to do this instead of sleeping or eating a proper meal. According to University of California, Los Angeles Medical Professor David Heber, this can be referred to as drunkorexia, a phenomenon where women get their calories through alcoholic drinks and choose not to eat. “Many cocktails popular with young women, such as margaritas, have lots of calories,” Heber said. He stated some women will skip eating food and receive calories through their booze.

During the first season of Jessica Jones, Forbes estimated that the character’s booze bill totaled something around $664.77 on it. That’s quite a shocking number and something that seems to prove alcoholism. This is probably not too far apart from what heavy drinkers are estimated to spend each week and month on alcohol ($200 each week, $800 each month). If you spent $25 a week on it for five years, you might end up spending as much as $6,500.

That number can be a scary amount and one you do not wish to repeat. For Jones, she exemplifies the very struggles someone dealing with a dual diagnosis issue had. According to the US Department of Veterans Affairs, alcohol is usually paired with PTSD. “People with PTSD are more likely than others with the same sort of background to have drinking problems,” the Department said. “By the same token, people with drinking problems often have PTSD.” It’s easy to see now how Jones’ struggles with PTSD made it so that she needed to distract herself from deeper issues she’s dealing with.

The Department notes that sixty to eighty percent of Vietnam Veterans seek PTSD help and deal with alcohol issues. Additionally, up to 1/3 of those who had survived disasters, illness, or traumatic situations have drinking issues. Another three quarters say they have drinking problems after going through violent or abusive trauma. The character has dealt with the loss of her family, which is proof of the struggle within her own life. It’s proof positive that Jones has problems with both PTSD and alcoholism.

So, what could Jones do to fix her problem? According to the US Surgeon General, only one in ten people dealing with substance abuse disorders ever receive treatment for these struggles. With millions of other Americans such as Jones struggling with these issues, it proves concerning that the majority of them do not go to dual diagnosis treatment centers. When Kilgrave forces Jones to have dinner, he asks her about her drinking.

“You ever think you might drink too much?” Kilgrave asked. Jones responded quite appropriately. “It’s the only way I get through my goddam days after what you did to me.” It seems Kilgrave has led to an increase in not only her drinking but her PTSD, which augments her drinking. For future seasons of the series, it might be an interesting path to see her go through treatment at dual diagnosis treatment centers. Who knows? It could open a wide array of different stories for the superhero private detective.

About the author: Tommy Zimmer is a writer whose work has appeared online and in print. His work covers a variety of topics, including politics, economics, health and wellness, addiction and recovery, and the entertainment industry.

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Tommy Zimmer

Tommy Zimmer

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