Watching Teairra Mari Be Encouraged To Drink On LHHH Is A Reminder That People Don’t Take Alcohol Addiction Seriously

Teairra Mari

2018 MTV Video Music Awards held at Radio City Music Hall – Arrivals
Featuring: Teairra Mari
Where: New York, New York, United States
When: 20 Aug 2018

I constantly have to remind myself that I’m watching “reality TV” because I tend to get disappointed too easily by the behavior of people on such shows. But when it comes to serious health issues, such as addiction, it’s hard not to want people to handle things with a little more tact. Love and Hip Hop Hollywood has had some bright spots in the past with the way they’ve covered serious situations, but this season, they’ve been dropping the ball. First, there were the jokes made by Brooke Valentine and producer RoccStar while their co-star, Moniece Slaughter, went through a panic attack at the studio. And then there was the terrible idea to take Teairra Mari, a recovering alcoholic, to a pub in London.

During Monday night’s episode, where most of the women of the LHHH cast travel to London, there is a scene where they head out to have fun at a pub. Drinks are had, pints are chugged, and everyone looks relatively happy. When Paris Phillips asks Mari if she’s happy and having a good time, this trip coming off the heels of her sex tape being leaked online, she responds with, “I almost drank.” Instead of seeing the harm in Mari’s desire to drink as someone who hasn’t been out of rehab that long, Phillips instead encourages her to do whatever will make her happiest.

“You on vacation, you can!” she said.

It eventually ends up being Mari that has to persuade Phillips that it wouldn’t be a good idea to break her sobriety.

“You on f–kin’ vacation!” Phillips said adamantly, to which Mari responded, “I am, but just not tonight.”

After feeling triggered, Mari, who sipped on a Red Bull instead, walked out of the bar. The only person who bothered to check on her was Slaughter.

“I’m not gonna lie to you and tell you that I haven’t drank since rehab,” Mari said. “I have been trying to refrain from having a drink, ’cause I know that I’m just gonna drink, and drink, and drink, and drink to just numb myself from the pain.”

Slaughter encouraged her to leave the pub altogether by offering to go with her.

“I’m not judging you if you want to have a glass of champagne,” she said. “I’m not judging you if you feel like you want to remove yourself.”

“I think let’s go home,” Mari replied.

And despite past behavior that I’ve seen of Slaughter’s that I haven’t been too pleased with, I had to give it to her — she was being a really good friend. Inside of the bar, she was the only person who didn’t drink, opting instead to drink a Red Bull with with Mari. She also wanted to just be there for her friend, who was clearly overwhelmed by the experience. She was the only person in that place who cared about how serious of an issue alcoholism can be.

I wasn’t expecting the cast or people on the show to censor themselves completely because of Mari’s issues with alcohol, and I know they are not her real “friends,” but why would they take her to a pub? When you consider the huge fuss they made, including producers, just to get her to go to rehab last season, the fact that they would compromise her success so easily is problematic.

But I guess it all goes back to the reality that people don’t tend to look at alcohol addiction as being as serious as, say, drug addiction. Blame it on the fact that alcohol is legal, and that many people act as though to enjoy a night out, alcohol needs to be consumed. As the episode showed, there is a misconception that even though it is common sense that you could never put a drug someone has been addicted to in front of them while they’re on the road to recovery, you could take a recovering alcoholic to a bar, or drink around them, and they would be OK. Wrong.

I also must mention that they took Mari to a bar during a time where she was feeling most vulnerable and emotionally in turmoil, and also while her pain was being downplayed by her fellow cast members. She had her most private moments shared without her permission and was expected to bounce back from it at the pub. That’s like giving an emotional eater a shopping spree at a grocery store during rough times. It might seem harmless, but it helps people to continue unhealthy habits that can hurt them.

In “reality,” there are plenty of people who don’t do enough to create safe spaces for people who are dealing with addiction. It’s something you have to deal with for the rest of your life in order to stay on track. With that being said, I can’t completely fault LHHH for putting her in that position. Truth be told, Mari shouldn’t have allowed herself to be put in it knowing the work she’s done. But there is only so much strength a person can show without the help of others, particularly one’s friends. And sure, it’s all fun and bar crawls and good times for the camera — until someone spirals completely out of control and there is no one there to do anything but record it.

I wasn’t the only one who felt some kind of way about the way folks were treating Mari. Check out what Twitter had to say.