It’s the year of 2009, at 14 rue du Maine in Paris, in the apartment of a woman named Laurence.The main character isn't at home. Equipped with Polaroid cameras, guests were invited to examine her apartment thoroughly and photograph any relevant evidence in order to discover Laurence's secret. Signs of a struggle, a suspicious red stain on the carpet, a blood-stained toothbrush, coffee beans in her handbag.... What happened here?
During a month, Paris-based agency BETC and Addict Aide invited over 7000 people to come and visit a reconstruction of Laurence’s apartment, follow clues and try to discover her secret, thanks to an Escape Game concept. Not one of them was able to reveal Laurence’s secret.
No, Laurence is not a murderess, a KGB agent or a vampire. Laurence is not a fictional character either. The truth is something quite different, yet just as troubling. In 2009, Laurence Cottet was a wealthy woman who had a good career, as a business lawyer and former Risk Director in a large French company. But Laurence was an alcoholic for 10 years.
And all of the signs in her former apartment bear witness to this fact. The signs of a struggle? The effects of an overall attitude of letting things go: broken furniture that hasn't been replaced, a wine stain on the carpet that was never cleaned. The toothbrush? A sign of physical deterioration due to a high level of alcohol consumption: bleeding gums are one of the first signs of liver damage. The coffee beans? Chewing coffee beans is demonstrated to be an effective way to hide the smell of alcohol on the breath.
In 2016, the "Louise Delage: like my addiction" marketing operation publicized the platformaddictaide.fr, an internet portal, which centralises support resources for addicts. Once again, Addict Aide, its agency BETC and the production studio Francine Framboise tackles the taboo of alcoholism in women, by demonstrating through a one-of-a-kind immersive experience that it's difficult to spot the signs of alcoholism in a person close to us.
"It's only with the keys to understanding an addiction that we will be in a position to correctly detect and interpret the signs that characterise an addiction. AddictAide provides these keys so that addicts can get started on the road to recovery," explained Michel Reynaud, chairman of the Actions Addictions Fund and initiator of the portal addictaide.fr.
Unlike the story of Louise Delage, a fictional character created to highlight a case of social yet photogenic alcoholism, Laurence's story is true. She invites us behind the scenes of her life and tells us her story: her struggle in everyday life as a chronic alcoholic woman, embodied in her former apartment, which has been carefully reconstructed with her own furniture and clothing from the time.
Laurence has now recovered and with Addict Aide she wants to bring a hopeful message: alcoholism is neither a weakness nor an inevitability, it is a disease that can be treated, for those that are ready to accept that they need help.
"The secret of Laurence is also the daily reality of millions of women just like her, struggling each day with the pressing need to drink, imposed on them by their disease and the pressing need to keep up appearances, imposed on them by society, " said Amine Benyamina, Addiction Psychiatrist, one of the developers of the portal Addictaide.fr.
After receiving psychological and medical support, Laurence recovered and is now studying a University Diploma in Therapeutic Education at the Pierre & Marie Curie University to become an "expert patient". Laurence Cottet is the author of "No! I stopped ", a book that recounts her road to recovery from alcoholism.