Friday, May 11, 2012

Book Review: Almost Alcoholic

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I had the privilege of reviewing a book that I'm willing to recommend and have added to my book recommendations page under substance abuse.  It's called Almost Alcoholic, and it's written by two mental health professionals from Harvard--psychiatrist Robert Doyle, MD and psychologist JosephNowinski, PhD.

 


I love this book because the way I see mental health problems is very much on a continuum; I don't see things black and white.  For example, I don't like categorizing someone's problems as either "normal" or "problematic".  I see problems in varying degrees from normal to problematic, with many steps in between.  This book is written with this continuum in mind.  The truth is that there are more than 2 types of people; you're not just alcoholic or not.  You can be developing problematic behaviors that may lead to alcoholism, even though you don't qualify as an "alcoholic".  Yet.  And that's where the term "almost alcoholic" comes from.

It's important to understand if your behaviors with alcohol or the behaviors of someone you love are becoming more problematic.  The earlier you get help, the better.  How do you know if you are "almost alcoholic"?  The authors list five key signs:

  • You continue drinking despite at least some negative consequences.
  • You look forward to drinking.
  • You drink alone.
  • You sometimes drink in order to control emotional and/or physical symptoms.
  • You and your loved ones are suffering as a result of your drinking.
If you're concerned about your own relationship with alcohol or are concerned about someone you care about, this is a great book to help you understand more about alcohol use and abuse.  This book is full of great examples, quizzes, illustrations, and guidance on how to get help.  It has a few chapters on how to deal with negative feelings, such as loneliness, anger, stress, and shame--and you know how I love discussing emotions!  There's also a discussion about whether abstinence is the right solution.  And what book on alcohol abuse wouldn't be complete without reference to the Twelve Steps from Alcoholics Anonymous?  Check.  Those are listed in the back.

Almost Alcoholic isn't too clinical or wordy.  I think it's easy to understand and will be a great read for yourself to to help you support a loved one.  And it's still a great reference for professionals working in the field of substance abuse.  Check it out!

2 comments:

  1. Those symptoms listed sound a lot like alcoholism. Of course, I'd have to read the book to find out. It's possible abstinence is not the only course of action. Food addicts have to eat, right?

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  2. Those symptoms sound similar to alcoholism, but sometimes those symptoms may not qualify for a diagnosis according to the DSM-IV. It's important that people realize that they may have a problem even if the don't qualify for the diagnosis or think they're "addicted". The choice for abstinence will depend on the severity of the problem. There are some who cannot eliminate the problematic behavior without abstinence. It's tough to have a problem with food, though, as you mention! We can't survive without food, but it's possible to survive without alcohol. :)

    Thanks for your comments!

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