By ERIN KIM
Maddie Graham is a high school student by day and rehab patient by night who struggles with a severe addiction to alcohol and drugs. Freeform’s latest television series, Recovery Road, which aired in early January 2016, offers a closer look into the life of Maddie Graham (played by Jessica Sula) and her fight to sobriety.
Accustomed to the party lifestyle, Maddie finds herself constantly surrounded by illicit substances and dangerous situations. When her counselor finally threatens her with expulsion after finding a bottle of vodka in her locker, Maddie reluctantly agrees to live in a rehabilitation home to treat her addiction.
In rehab, she is the youngest patient. She is exposed to a whole new world of recovering addicts and gradually understands the value of recovery and sobriety.
One of the most appealing aspects of Recovery Road is the multiple representations of diversity in the show.
The inhabitants of the rehabilitation group home have various ethnic roots, and even Maddie herself is biracial. In addition, the show represents the LGBT community as well, especially through Vern (played by Daniel Franzese), a gay patient at the rehab center.
There is also diversity in the problems and consequences each character faces as a result of his/her addiction. Trish (played by Kyla Pratt), Maddie’s roommate in rehab, fights to win back custody of her daughter while simultaneously battling her addiction to drugs, while Rebecca (played by Lindsay Pearce), Maddie’s former best friend, is a recovering alcoholic struggling to make a living after being expelled from high school.
Recovery Road is not only an entertaining teen drama, but also an educational series for young adults. The show realistically depicts the consequences of recovery and the sacrifices it may call for.
During her sobriety journey, Maddie faces an immense amount of peer pressure from her group of friends to continue partying and drinking. She fears losing her friends if she reveals to them her attempts to get sober, and thus keeps rehab a secret. As a result, Maddie helplessly watches her relationship with her boyfriend slip away and she grows anxious as her friends become more distant.
The show communicates to viewers that in order to find happiness in sobriety, it is sometimes necessary to eliminate toxic relationships and make sacrifices for recovery.
Overall, Recovery Road is a meaningful series that shines addiction and those suffering from addiction in a new light.
By sharing the story of each rehab patient, the show makes the viewer empathize with those affected by addiction and encourages a more optimistic and understanding approach to mental illness.
Recovery Road airs every Monday at 9 PM on FreeForm (formerly known as ABC Family).