virginia from married at first sight

Is Virginia from Married at First Sight an alcoholic? An alarming look at addiction on reality TV.

Hi, my name is Holly and I am an addict. I am addicted to reality TV. But I am also an addiction specialist in real life, and today I want to talk about an example of addiction on one of my favourite series featuring Virginia Coombs/Lake from season 12 of Married at First Sight.

Is Virginia’s partying innocent or is she headed for trouble?

Before I begin, I want to clarify that this article is not written to bash Virginia, but to analyze her drinking habits captured by Married at First Sight, in order to identify the differences between social alcohol use and addiction. Virginia comes across as an awesome person: sociable, funny, sweet, energetic and the life of the party. But the party never seemed to end and fans began to notice Virginia’s excessive alcohol use on the show. Here are just a few examples.

Virginia from Married at First Sight on the day of her wedding

Virginia drinks the morning of the wedding

It begins with the bridal party entering the hotel room to get hair and make up done. Virginia says: “I need a shot or something to calm my nerves” and her friend says: “I am not surprised that you want a shot”. My ears perked right up because this is my realm of familiarity and I wanted to see just how much Married at First Sight was planning to focus on this very important issue.

Virginia from Married at First Sight drinking the morning of the wedding
Virginia takes shots with bridal party the morning of her wedding on Married at First Sight.

What’s the big deal?

Well, it’s not a big deal if this was a one time thing. But if you have ever taken part in a wedding, you know that the wedding party preparations begin EARLY. We can’t tell what time of day it is from the show, but my guess is that it isn’t later than 8am. Is this normal? Perhaps. This is an unusual and nerve-wracking situation, but taking shots in the morning would likely leave someone pretty burnt out by the middle of the day, unless of course they are a seasoned drinker and continue going all day like Virginia and the bridal party.

Virginia tells Erik that she brought a cooler full of alcohol for later

During her first ever conversation with her new husband, Virginia announced that she packed a cooler full of alcohol to bring up to the room. Erik appeared confused by that statement, because this isn’t normal, especially at a wedding with an open bar (I would assume that MAFS pays for an open bar). Most people would opt for a night cap from the mini bar or room service. Virginia brought A WHOLE COOLER!

Virginia tells Erik that she packed a cooler full of alcohol on Married at First Sight

Why this is alarming

Virginia is already leading with her addiction while ignoring how wildly inappropriate this is for the situation. She prepared ahead of time to drink A LOT on the day of the her wedding. She is already introducing alcohol as a major part of her life: her funnest best friend. She mentions that her bridesmaids are also drunk as if to say, “all of my friends are drinkers too”. There is no dancing around the issue with Virginia and her friends: we are drinkers and you have to get on board if you want this to work. Let’s not forget that Virginia packed the cooler without ever having met her husband. She had no idea how heavy of a drinker he would be and she didn’t care. Addicts always justify, defend, and promote the habit, as well as look for connections with other users to reinforce the addiction.

Drinking all day without etiquette

Most of us might dial it back a bit on day one. Especially in a situation when you are being recorded for a TV show, meeting a brand new family and trying to make a good first impression. But not Virginia. Virginia is visibly drunk through most of the wedding. It is especially noticeable during the photo session when she is falling all over Erik, kissing him, laughing extremely loud, etc. At one point she approaches the bar and says: “I need a drink, a shot, anything”.

Virginia's bridesmaid on Married at First Sight warns Erik of her drinking habits
Virginia’s bridesmaid talks about her weekend drinking habits on Married at First Sight

Virginia’s bridesmaid includes drinking and vomiting in her speech

Some have speculated that Virginia was simply nervous and just drank too much on account of anxiety. Possible, but during the speeches one of her bridesmaids literally explains to Erik that he should keep Virginia out of the backseat of the car on the way home from bars because she throws up.

What’s the problem with this?

This is the definition of going too far and not knowing your limits. Throwing up is something most have done from drinking too much, but her friend thinks this is hilarious NOW and part of Virginia’s personality, which is why she thought it was appropriate for a wedding speech. This is indicative of the type of life Virginia was living up until this point. The drinking obviously did not begin on the show and appears planned, deliberate and justified. In addition, judging from her body language her anxiety seems quite high through the show. Anxiety disorders are very common in people who self-medicate with alcohol.

The drinking continues

Instead of taking a break to clear her mind after the wedding, Virginia continues drinking excessively. She drinks through the honeymoon, on picnics, and even in interviews with Pastor Cal. She even gets called out by Chris of all people early in the season for stumbling around the casino drunk. We see this statement supported by an intoxicated exchange between Erik and Virginia while they discuss her lifestyle. Erik is also visibly drunk, slurring, and barely keeping up with the conversation. He even says at one point: “I can’t do this all the time”.

Virginia from Married at First Sight drinking on every occasion
Virginia continues to drink on the honeymoon, at picnics, and even in interviews with Pastor Cal on Married at First Sight Season 12.

Is Virginia an alcoholic?

In my opinion Virginia exhibits all of the standard behaviours of an addict. She commonly surrounds herself with opportunities which reinforce her addiction. A common example of addiction reinforcement would be seeking activities which promote substance use: we go to this restaurant because it has mimosas on Sunday or we play cards and have wine on Wednesday nights. Drinkers often find traditions and habits around their drinking because they justify their consumption. However, Virginia is far beyond that. She unapologetically stated that she parties on Thursday, Friday, Saturday nights and sometimes sleeps somewhere other than at home (because she passes out). She didn’t feel that anything is abnormal about this and said that she had no plans to stop, even now that she is married.

Will alcohol destroy Erik and Virginia’s marriage?

Unfortunately it would appear that it it already has. US Weekly reports has it that Erik and Virginia have already filed for divorce. It is unclear what will happen to their appearance on Married at First Sight’s Couples’ Cam. It doesn’t take an expert to see that their lifestyles are completely incompatible. Erik is a military pilot which requires a sober, focused, disciplined lifestyle. This is not to say that this was their only problem, but it seems to be the most obvious one judging from the show. I don’t think Erik ever stood a chance.

Is Married at First Sight responsible?

Season 12 was overshadowed by Chris and Paige’s drama, but it is hard to believe that the experts didn’t notice Virginia’s struggle with alcohol. While this isn’t the first time they have set up a an incompatible couple for failure, it is a sobering reminder that this is just a reality TV show designed for entertainment.

The experts from Married at First Sight

Why this is not ok

Referring to heavy alcohol use as “partying” and being young by therapists is dismissive and irresponsible. It perpetuates the behaviour and reinforces the idea that this habit is normal among people her age. Drinking in the morning isn’t “partying”. Drinking during a TV interview isn’t “being young”. Virginia was matched with Erik without concern for her alcohol use which clearly dominates her life. There was no concern for Erik and how being matched with someone in active addiction would impact his life and his career. While Erik and Virginia were not the worst match in season 12, (they at least liked each other) according to Screenrant, fans are starting to question the integrity and credibility of the experts on Married at First Sight.

Recovery starts with awareness

Denial is another common factor in addiction and although Virginia has repeatedly denied her drinking being a problem, perhaps watching the show and reflecting back on her experience will help her build some awareness around her drinking. We wish Virginia the best in her journey.

Healthy relationships start with healthy people. If you are questioning your own drinking habits you may enjoy more articles about alcohol management from Bubbleheaded.