Anne M. Fletcher resolved her own drinking problem without Alcoholics Anonymous and was fascinated by other people who had found alternative methods to stop drinking. In the spirit of her first book, Thin for Life
, for which she interviewed "masters" who had lost weight and kept it off, she decided to find people who formerly had drinking problems and learn how they got and stayed sober. She interviewed a range of ex-drinkers, from high-functioning people with mild or moderate alcohol problems to hardcore cases who had hit bottom. The amount of alcohol consumed ranged from three daily drinks to two daily quarts of vodka. Almost all these 222 "masters" had stayed sober for 5 years or more, averaging 13 years of sobriety.
Sober for Good presents their stories: when they started drinking, how much they drank, how it affected their lives, why they decided to stop, what they tried, what finally worked for them, and their perspective now. The stories are compelling on their own, and Fletcher organizes them according to common themes and strategies. She also includes helpful information about different programs available and relevant research studies.
This book takes some controversial stances. Fletcher chooses to use phrases like drinking problems and alcohol problems rather than alcoholic because she sees alcoholic as both outmoded and pejorative. Many of the masters found sobriety through AA, but more found alternative solutions, leading Fletcher to dispute the one-path solution. And although most of the masters abstain from alcohol completely, some have alcohol occasionally, challenging the accepted contention that abstinence is the only solution. Read what the masters say and judge for yourself. --Joan Price
From Publishers Weekly
Although Alcoholics Anonymous has long been the preferred (and often court-mandated) regimen for the treatment of alcoholism, its ideology isn't for everyone. As Fletcher (Thin for Life) points out, some people are put off by AA's religious tone, others by the concept of powerlessness over alcohol. And, she says, contrary to AA beliefs, many more never "hit bottom," but nonetheless choose to reconsider their relationship with drinking. Additionally, she suggests, with managed care drastically cutting coverage of inpatient treatment, people with alcohol problems need to know about outpatient alternatives to AA. Fletcher, a health and medical journalist, provides a compendium of such approaches, drawing on the voices of "masters" former problem drinkers who have resolved their problems with alcohol and been sober for at least five years. Programs such as Women for Sobriety, Rational Recovery and Moderation Management provide a variety of approaches, and the "masters" themselves offer a collection of strategies for getting and staying sober with support groups, chemical dependency counselors or a combination of treatments. Unfortunately, Fletcher draws a fuzzy line between "problem drinkers" and "alcoholics," a word she avoids because some find it "pejorative." Maintaining that the distress and dysfunction of most people with drinking problems is not as "severe" as that associated with a stereotypical drunk, she promises that, although AA proponents insist otherwise, "you can quit on your own," "you don't have to quit altogether" and "you don't have to call yourself an alcoholic." Though she sometimes appears to bash AA, Fletcher provides a useful overview of the varieties of recovery programs and practices.
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