on July 26, 2013
I LOVED this book! This book was truly a life changer for me. As the daughter of an "alcoholic," I have often wondered every time I over imbibed if I too had a drinking problem. I have a sister who certainly does have some form of alcohol dependency. But, my Dad never admitted to being an alcoholic, and I have always secretly agreed with him. After reading your book, I agree that he probably does have a problem with alcohol that would probably fit more into a yet defined category, like "alcohol dependency," or "at risk." He did go through AA, but never quit drinking.
I fit into the 'women on wine' category. I have 2 kids, great husband, great career, hobbies etc. and had progressed in my drinking to resemble the kitchen drinking description in this book. Having a family who believed in AA, I always thought drinking was all or nothing. All I heard my whole life is that people with alcohol problems are powerless over it. That is why Ms. Glaser's in depth look into AA is so valuable. It is empowering to learn that there are multiple resources with great research based methods to help people reduce their alcohol consumption.
This book is is a God send and must read for anyone who drinks more that 2 glasses of wine in the evenings and over indulges on occasion and has the slightest concern that she has a problem, but hasn't admitted it to anyone, perhaps not even herself. It is also a must for women who drink a lot more than that too.
I personally think EVERY woman would find this an interesting and valuable read. The history of alcohol in America is interesting and enlightening on its own. But, most importantly I believe this book has the power to save lives. It will certainly enrich them.
on November 4, 2013
Her Best Kept Secret by Gabrielle Glaser is a fascinating compilation of facts and anecdotes about women and their relationship with alcohol. I couldn't put it down, but admittedly have an interest in the topic, as a woman who likes to drink, and does not intend to quit. What I found most fascinating about this book is the author's lack of an agenda. Ms. Glaser gives an historical overview of alcohol's place in American society, both from a legal and moral perspective, and she also gives a very enlightening history of the wine industry's incredible marketing tactics--basically making women love wine! (Thank you Mr. Mondavi!)Then there is the medical data--the disparity between clinical trials and true scientific data on women and alcohol use and other "diseases" is truly appalling, and this alone is worthy of a book being written. Learning that there is a pharmaceutical product that can be prescribed to control cravings is particularly interesting especially considering the number of weight loss centers and physicians across America prescribing appetite suppressants with such vigor. I will recommend this book to every female friend I have, and every physician friend I have, no matter the amount of alcohol they drink daily. Ms Glaser has written a very eye-opening book that will hopefully challenge the medical and rehab establishment to re-think the way we treat women and their unique health issues.
on April 24, 2014
Right out the gate I need to make a confession. When I was approached for this assignment I thought it was an adult contemporary novel which is my genre of choice. Happily I agreed to review a novel called, “Her Best Kept Secret” by author Gabrielle Glaser. Imagine my surprise when the book showed up and the full tile was, “Her Best Kept Secret – Why Women Drink – And How They Can Regain Control. This story provides endless entertainment for my girlfriends who know I love my wine and write erotic romance. I’ve got to admit, the book took me a few weeks to read. Not because it wasn’t any good, but because it was real life. I often prefer to escape my real life in my nighttime reading when finally away from the hustle and bustle of being a working mom of two, a wife, a writer, and a professional fundraiser.
At first when I started reading the book I’d roll my eyes at different points the author made but then found myself enchanted by the historical effects drinking has made on our country and men and women as a whole. Ms. Glaser gives an in-depth look at drinking as far back as the 19th century to present. Her research is top notch and her interviews with professionals on the subject surprisingly interesting.
For example, I live in sunny California, the home to some of the world’s greatest wine. My hometown itself is home to Gallo. Technically, it shouldn’t have been surprising that in California alone, between 1994 and 2009 the number of women arrested for drunk driving went from 10.6 percent of all drivers to 21.2 percent, but it was surprising. This is double what the rest of the states experienced. Made me wonder if it was because wine was so damned good in California or if was because of a bigger problem? Both are definitely possibe.
There were other parts of the book that I questioned and thought long and hard about. In one section, the author makes a correlation to women in high-pressured jobs drinking in excess. While I agree that these types of women could feel the need to consume more alcoholic beverages in order to take the “edge off,” I don’t necessarily agree with the assessment. Glaser gives the example of a woman who would drink a bottle of wine while making dinner, hide that bottle then open a new one with her husband without him being the wiser. Or worse, women who would drive their kids to school with mugs filled with coffee and spiked with Baileys. Those women clearly need help with their addiction. Those are some very problematic signs of something more serious, but that is most certainly not the norm in my circle of friends.
Some parts of the book downright broke my heart and opened my eyes to issues that I’ve never had to address. Like the fact that sexual abuse, as either a child or an adult is one of the largest risk factors for women who become problem drinkers. Other research goes on to show that women who were abused as children were three times more likely to develop an alcohol or chemical dependency problem.
In one of the author interviews with Valerie Ramsey a longtime economic professor at the University of California’s San Diego campus stated that she enjoyed wine, but never steps beyond what she calls the “law of diminishing returns” – where pleasure is replaced by a hangover. This is definitely my motto which consistently conflicts with my other motto “In vino veritas” meaning “In wine there is truth.”
I identified most with this interview because Valerie was like a lot of us career oriented mothers who are constantly trying to prove that we can do everything just the same as the mothers who gave up their jobs to tote their kids around from activity to activity. I can’t keep up and sometimes that makes me want to have a glass of wine or a martini when I get home. That doesn’t mean that I have one daily. Doesn’t mean I don’t either. Some days I take refuge in a martini or two. Then I’ll go several days where I don’t have one drink. I’ll bet there are a lot of women out there like that but the flip side of that are the ones that can’t stop at one or two. We need to be mindful of our need to drink and ensure that we’re keeping it at a healthy place.
I think what the author is trying to do in this book is to give women who may have a drinking problem and outlet for research on the history, the treatment options, and the psychology behind why women today may have a problem. I think she also gives women a way to identify with a wide variety of other women interviewed that may have similar problems as them. A sisterhood if you will.
Glaser discusses the wide variety of sobriety programs from A.A. to Betty Ford clinics. After reading about all of them, the final consensus seemed to be that: One size does not fit all. There is no perfect method to finding ones sobriety other than self-determination, support from loved ones, and sheer will to survive with a better quality of life.
One major lesson I learned from Ms. Glaser’s book was that alcohol is a drug women can respectably use in public and in private, and as with any addiction it has the power to consume you. My final thought fits with my catholic upbringing and my Mom’s prophetic saying, “Anything in moderation my sweet.”
on November 3, 2013
Although I enjoyed reading this, I think the title is a little misleading. The book gives great insight as to why and how women drink, and how their habits differ so much from those of men. It also provides fascinating historical and recent statistics on both social and problem drinking, and thoughtfully discusses where the line is drawn. For those looking for reassurance that they are not the only females in the world who see wine as a "go to" at the end of a busy day, this book will make you feel better about addressing your issue. As to how to regain control, it is more of a warning to women that the most popular treatment, AA, is something to be wary of, as it is a solution geared towards men. The book discusses one doctor's alternative method that has worked for some women who can afford it, but does not provide any advice or direction for today's working mother who is short on time and/or money. If you are looking for a self-help book, this is not it. However, I would recommend it for anyone looking to understand how these issues developed over time and affected so many.
on February 18, 2014
I read this book because I am not a big drinker but I am concerned about a family member who is. We as women have been led to believe that wine is the answer to stress and if it goes too far, AA's abstinence-only approach is the only answer. But in fact we have the power to find a lot of other answers. Glaser probes why it is women are drinking so much, and what we can do about it, if 'so much' becomes a problem. Not every bad habit is a disease, and we can unlearn bad behaviors.
Thank you Ms. Glaser, for bringing to light new methods on an important topic!
on July 3, 2013
As a woman who struggled with addiction during my young adult years (I started drinking as a teen and didn't quit until I was 38) I found this book fascinating.
I enjoyed reading the detailed history of how women's drinking came to be viewed and addressed in American society and how the male-oriented, faith-based steps of AA came to monopolize the treatment of alcoholism in the US. I was also pleased to see that the book is part of the growing chorus of voices questioning the utility of one-size-fits-all treatment--where the one size is AA.
But where the book truly shines is in its unstinting, and in my experience entirely accurate, reporting of AA's safety problems and its organizational refusal to address them. I spent a number of years in AA myself, where I experienced and witnessed these problems first hand--from the creepy older men who gather at the meeting room door to get their "AA hugs" to the outright predators who make a beeline for vulnerable women.
This behavior is not rare, not an unusual problem limited to a few outlier groups like Midtown. And although the existence of the problem is typically denied to outsiders "that never happens in MY home group!" or explained away "well, there are predators at bars, too...." it's well known among the membership. It's minimized, or blamed on the women, but it's openly acknowledged among members.
A small sampling of what I personally saw:
*A woman, fresh in town after a long relapse, worked in the same building as a male oldtimer (25 years or so). He walked her next door to her first meeting in her new town: within days they were sleeping together. He urged her not to tell her sponsor, assuring her that since she'd had a period of sobriety previously, she was not a newcomer and their relationship was completely acceptable. She ended up telling her sponsor anyway, but the oldtimer needn't have worried: the sponsor simply told the young woman to "look at her part."
*A married male oldtimer (30+ years), on the board of a large local 12 step rehab, was notorious for having affairs with several AA women at once, leading each to believe that she was the only one. At one point, he had an affair with a sponsee of his own daughter; when the affair was revealed he unceremoniously dumped her. She drank over the resulting pain and was chided for placing her dependence on another AA member rather than on God.
*A young, extremely vulnerable married mother of two, from another state, moved to town to live with her AA member mother while she attended local AA meetings. Within weeks, an oldtimer (15+ years) had "befriended" her under the guise of "helping her get sober". Rather than helping her, the attendant guilt of the "friendship" escalated her related mental health issues, including a severe eating disorder. To suggestions that this was unhealthy, the woman's sponsor (a friend of the oldtimer) stated: "she isn't drinking today, so she's a success story."
As the author points out in this book, the problem is not only acknowledged among the broad membership but at the highest levels of the organization--which after studying the issue decided that it had the power to do absolutely nothing. This, from an organization which regularly sues its own members to protect its trademark rights! It's stunning that an organization that has the power to sue its own members would not have the power to protect them.
In any event, I imagine this book will cause great controversy and that there will be a hue and cry among those who are ideologically bound to AA or who depend on it for their livelihoods. It will be stated that the author has no business criticizing AA, that she isn't an alcoholic and doesn't understand the organization. But as someone who is (or was: I don't refer to myself as an alcoholic in the present tense) an alcoholic and who was deeply involved in the program for years, I know that she writes the truth.
on January 1, 2014
This is an excellent book on the subject of alcohol abuse. The author 's style and mixing of history,real life accounts and evidence based information makes it equally interesting and informative. For years, the 12 Step, cult like "doctrine" has had a grip on treatment industry. But thanks to the author and other researchers, the public is finally providing an objective and honest account of AA philosophy. The book explains much of how "we got where we are" in the treatment culture. She offers up current approaches that are beginning to take hold. I have read much on the subject and have had personal experience with both views taken on alcohol consumption and abuse. I could relate to much of what the author described but most importantly, I learned more a great deal. For me, the key to changing my own life was taking personal responsibility for my choices. Claims of powerlessness and inability to control oneself because of a "disease" is the denial of human freewill. It is a perfect recipe for the destruction of one's personal growth,self confidence, accountability, independence and security. Ms. Glaser's book confirms what I view as an empowering, hopeful and positive message to anyone who has dealt with alcohol issues.
on September 16, 2013
This is a book that needed to be written. If someone drinks what she (or he) thinks is too much, there are more choices than just all or nothing. You do not have to "hit bottom." (Obviously, there are many who really must choose abstinence.) Glaser points out the role of the media in our beliefs about AA (that it is the only successful way to deal with alcoholism or heavy drinking). She reveals previously unknown facts and statistics about AA, and that it is not as successful as we believe. She speaks of how our knowledge of the brain and how it works has changed since AA was founded in 1935. There are new medications that can be used to decrease cravings, if cravings are your problem. Manipulating statistics is another way that our popular beliefs are influenced. Example: An observed increase of 0.6%, from 2% to 2.6%, in diagnosis of breast cancer, associated with alcohol use, is a "tiny fraction of an increase, but it represents a 30% jump--and that's the figure that got reported." (p. 176) This book is an eye-opener and an encouragement for women, OR men. Physicians should read it, too, and take a new approach to alcohol use. I recommend it highly.
on February 23, 2014
This book fills a void as specific research on women and drinking did not even begin until as late as the 1990's. It's meticulously researched and executed with journalistic craft, captivating style and disarming humor. Have you ever wondered if your drinking or that of someone you care about is getting out of hand? Glaser provides (among many other things) "sobering" insight into what the guidelines are for an acceptable daily amount of alcohol consumption for women in the US compared to international standards. Shockingly, international standards allow women to drink more...and those women typically live longer than American women. Why? Glaser expounds on such paradoxes and truths from a historical, cultural and an economically based perspective. This book fills a desperate need for truth regarding women and alcohol in this country. This book can save women a lot of pain, confusion and possibly even save someone's life. Her Best Kept Secret is an engaging, empowering and edifying read. It is also a vital facet of the current growing movement to provide modern society with current, real, evidence-based information, resources and treatment for alcohol and substance use challenges today...if we can handle the TRUTH that is. Here is an excellent interview with the author:[...]
on January 22, 2014
I found this book to be insightful, well written and researched and focuses on an area often overlooked in society.
It is obvious that the establishment of AA did not account for women in the early days. I think that Glaser provides a great outlook on the struggles women have had not only with sobriety but with the double standard so often applied to many aspects of the American life. I am thankful that Glaser has taken the time to document this.