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Alcohol addiction is a shameful and thorny subject



The shame and stigma that surrounds addiction is part of what makes the disease so complex to discuss. Pop star Will Young is only too aware of this – for years, his twin brother, Rupert, struggled with alcoholism and mental health issues. In July 2020, he took his own life. He was 41 years old.

Until now, Will has rarely spoken about his brother’s illness. But in Will Young: Losing My Twin Rupert, the singer explored the grief, anger and monstrous realities of having a family member with a dependency on alcohol. “It wasn’t my story to tell,” he said at the start. “But it is now.”

What followed was both a celebration of Rupert and a soul-crushing story about the horrors of addiction. Will detailed the physical abuse that he and his brother experienced after they were sent off to boarding school aged nine, something they kept from their parents. Looking at old family photos, Will’s father said: “I want to know when it all went wrong… Where did that screw start turning?”

Will detailed how he became his brother’s carer, a task that ultimately became too much.

“I had a big moment where I realised that I couldn’t save him and that brought a whole lot of grief.”

The documentary explored how limited professional help is for those experiencing addiction. The lengths Will had to go to, often spending £50,000 for Rupert to attend private rehab facilities, demonstrates the health inequalities at play, too

I found it a difficult watch. But you could see how therapeutic the process was for Will as he untangled the thorny pain of his grief.

“The sadness comes and it’s good to talk about it,” he said. “But then it passes… I’ve learned not to ignore it. That’s the key.”

Will Young: Losing My Twin Rupert is streaming on All 4

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