The availability of drugs to the general public has no doubt become an enabling factor in the addiction struggles facing our nation. But popular TV drama, Breaking Bad, has found a unique way of informing the public to the issues surrounding drug use. This award-winning show provides a relatively accurate perspective into the realm of drug manufacturing and dealing, and through the course of the show, illustrates the repercussions that come with involvement in drugs.
Throughout the show, we’ve seen Breaking Bad’s protagonist, Walter White, immerse himself in the drug world, and just narrowly elude the cops through luck and a web of lies. Walter’s descent into the drug underworld begins out of desperation. The chemistry teacher becomes terminally ill with cancer, and he is looking for a way to make some quick cash for his family. With the help of one of his former students, Jesse, Walter begins cooking and distributing crystal meth, using his chemistry skills to help perfect their meth-making. What begins as a desperate way to help his family soon becomes overwhelming.
Walter finds that there’s no such thing as halfheartedly committing yourself to the drug trade. Every time he makes a small decision to cover his tracks or protect his family, he gets sucked even deeper into the life of crime. Eventually he commits the worst crime imaginable, turning to violence to protect not just his family, but his now-thriving drug empire.
In several ways, White’s journey mimics that of many struggling with addiction. No one starts out hoping to have a substance abuse problem. It starts with one little hit or, in Walter’s case, cooking one little batch of meth. Then it leads to another and another, until soon you feel out of control.
Walter never envisioned his life being taken over by drug deals, running from the Drug Enforcement Administration or lying to his family when he started. Yet that is what happened the day he began living his double life. Through the deft portrayal by actor Bryan Cranston, Walter’s pain is palpable as he makes dangerous decision after dangerous decision. It’s clear that he’s no longer sure how to turn back.
Walter can still redeem himself. He faces choices that could change his path, but those choices are not easy to make. At this point, Walter is no longer the family man he began as. He even takes a certain amount of pride in his new identity as Heisenberg, the lethal drug kingpin.
As the series neared its end, it became difficult to see glimmers of the old Walter. His brutality and disregard for those around him was sickening. Yet under it all, the same Walter was there.
That’s often how those with loved ones struggling with addiction feel. They may not have seen evidence of their loved one’s pre-addiction personality for a long time, but they know it’s in there. Don’t give up hope. It’s possible to find them again, just as it’s possible Walter could find his humanity before the end of Breaking Bad.
Before he can find his humanity, there are a few loose ends Walter has yet to tie up. Take a look at our infographic to see which loose ends could unravel Walter White’s web of lies.
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