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Understanding the High-Functioning Alcoholic: Breaking the Cycle and Finding Hope Paperback – October 16, 2010

ISBN-13: 978-1442203907 ISBN-10: 1442203900

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Understanding the High-Functioning Alcoholic: Breaking the Cycle and Finding Hope + If You Loved Me, You'd Stop! What You Really Need to Know When Your Loved One Drinks Too Much + When You Love a Functional Alcoholic
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 222 pages
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (October 16, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1442203900
  • ISBN-13: 978-1442203907
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.6 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #37,973 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Alcoholism has many faces and high-functioning alcoholics are invisibly among us every day. Congratulations and thanks to Sarah Allen Benton for the courage she displays by showing her face and telling her story. (David L. Rosenbloom, Ph.D)

I hope this book will help to puncture the myth that alcoholism/addiction is a condition associated with those with less education or lower incomes. Too often, individuals in powerful or highly respected positions suffer much longer than necessary because they and those around them (including their treatment providers) are blinded by their social status. Professionals may delude themselves despite facing a higher-than-average risk, seeking help only after their careers are coming apart. (Jeffrey Fortgang, Ph.D, CAS)

Understanding the High-Functioning Alcoholic provides a thorough description as well as Benton's experience of working a Twelve-Step program, but also addresses many important issues, including the role of spirituality and the controversy of controlled drinking, so often part of the discussion about the HFA, by providing information and positions from a variety of sources and giving the reader a chance to make informed conclusions. This work makes good use of realistic vignettes that do not resortdirectly to 'worst case' scenarios, but rather, illustrate the dilemma of the HFA in everyday settings and at all levels of development. Benton brings personal credibility and insight as she freely discloses her experiences as an alcoholic, including herown journey through her Twelve-Step program. She supports the assertion that the 'bottom' an HFA hits is often emotional in nature, and she applies the emotional dimension of an HFA in her first person accounts to provide a social, family, vocational andpsychological picture. Data, professional observations and personal experience are effectively interlaced in an overall well informed yet conversational tone. This work will be a useful resource for the lay person, professional and trainee interested i (Robert M. Klein, MD, MBA)

Sarah Benton's book Understanding the High-Functioning Alcoholic is a gift to both clinicians and clients alike. It is a thorough and insightful discussion of an often misunderstood and mistreated clinical group that frequently does not respond wellto traditional psychotherapy, or psychopharmacology, or simply Twelve Step approaches. Sarah presents an integrated treatment approach in a highly personal and engaging way that truly bridges the gap between research, clinical work and moving personal experiences. Despite 35 years of working with this population of substance abusers, I was delighted to see how much I learned from Sarah's book. The highest compliment that I can pay her for this accomplishment is that I immediately thought of many clients and therapists that I could give it to.. (David Treadway, Ph.D)

Within the first few pages of reading Sarah Allen Benton's book Understanding the High Functioning Alcoholic it is clear the reader is in excellent hands. Ms. Benton's insights into the high functioning alcoholic, using interviews and personal reflections, resonates and inspires. That a book of this depth and solidity could also be an enjoyable heart-warming read is testament to her skill and passion for her subject. Ms. Benton's book provides a road map to greater understanding and compassion for the many silently suffering practicing alcoholics in our society. (Brownell, Rachael)

An insufficiently appreciated fact is that alcoholism takes on many faces and disguises. The falling-down drunk is the most common and unfortunate stereotype of an alcoholic, but represents less than 10% of the 18 million alcoholics in America who suffer with it. Through telling case examples, interviews with recovering alcoholics of all ages, accomplished professionals and executives, and through her own reflections, Sarah Allen Benton brings to awareness that the largest majority of alcoholics are high functioning and, too often, go undetected. As she eloquently states, 'The story of the high functioning alcoholic is seldom told, for it is not one of obvious tragedy, but that of silent suffering.' Drawing on the experience of high-functioning alcoholics, including her own experiences, this book is both instructive and inspiring. It will help a high-functioning alcoholic face their denial of alcoholism and help family and friends who witness it to better appreciate and understand it. Whether it is in the pre-high or high schooler, the college student, young adult, or the successful executive, professional, or athlete, Sarah Allen Benton shines an illuminating light on the plight of high-functioning alcoholics from all walks of life and, better still, point the reader to helpful pathways for recovery. (Edward J. Khantzian, MD)

Understanding the High-Functioning Alcoholic provides a thorough description as well as Benton's experience of working a Twelve-Step program, but also addresses many important issues, including the role of spirituality and the controversy of controlled drinking, so often part of the discussion about the HFA, by providing information and positions from a variety of sources and giving the reader a chance to make informed conclusions. This work makes good use of realistic vignettes that do not resort directly to 'worst case' scenarios, but rather, illustrate the dilemma of the HFA in everyday settings and at all levels of development. Benton brings personal credibility and insight as she freely discloses her experiences as an alcoholic, including her own journey through her Twelve-Step program. She supports the assertion that the 'bottom' an HFA hits is often emotional in nature, and she applies the emotional dimension of an HFA in her first person accounts to provide a social, family, vocational and psychological picture. Data, professional observations and personal experience are effectively interlaced in an overall well informed yet conversational tone. This work will be a useful resource for the lay person, professional and trainee interested in a realistic and professionally informed understanding of high-functioning alcoholics and the Twelve-Step recovery process. Those whose loved ones are suffering and living the effects of alcoholism as well as HFAs themselves will find important identifying information and resources for hope and change. (Robert M. Klein, MD, MBA)

Sarah Benton's book Understanding the High-Functioning Alcoholic is a gift to both clinicians and clients alike. It is a thorough and insightful discussion of an often misunderstood and mistreated clinical group that frequently does not respond well to traditional psychotherapy, or psychopharmacology, or simply Twelve Step approaches. Sarah presents an integrated treatment approach in a highly personal and engaging way that truly bridges the gap between research, clinical work and moving personal experiences. Despite 35 years of working with this population of substance abusers, I was delighted to see how much I learned from Sarah's book. The highest compliment that I can pay her for this accomplishment is that I immediately thought of many clients and therapists that I could give it to. (David Treadway, Ph.D)

Book Description

This volume spotlights the thinking of millions of successful people who excel in other ways, but remain powerless against and under the control of alcohol.

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

This book made a lot of sense.
LinnieRose
This book helped me understand more about my husband and what was happening in our lives.
ToughGirl2
This was incredibly eye opening.
Jason Sheroan

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

50 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Lloyd R. Fell on May 5, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This is an important book because it fills a gaping hole in the literature about alcoholism. High-powered executives, leading academics and successful artists and authors can all be alcoholics and the problems they face are not the same as those of a skid-row bum. The experiences they have as alcoholism intrudes inexorably into their lives and the choices they make about recovery programs have not been described before in the insightful way that Benton does in this book. Her use of interviews and personal stories complements the thoroughly professional approach she takes to what is a huge issue affecting health and productivity across the world. Alcoholism is not necessarily regarded as a disease by medical authorities, nor are twelve step programs the only kinds of treatment programs, but Sarah Benton has captured the essence of these two tried and trusted principles that have proven to be the most effective ways of dealing with alcoholism over the years. It is especially significant that this book challenges the traditional criteria used by clinicians for diagnosing alcohol dependence and abuse and provides enough information for these criteria to be updated in a useful way. I recommend it warmly to anyone who works in this field and also to people who may wonder if they have a drinking problem despite being a high-functioning person.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Tom on October 18, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Continued (intermittent) heavy drinking a decade into my professional career has left my career, home and family relatively untarnished, but myself increasingly devastated. After a year of unsuccessfully trying to conform my drinking, I explored some books about alcoholism. I read stories of people who triumphed after spiraling to the point of constant drinking and financial ruin. While inspiring, they left me in denial.

This book hit home like nothing else I've read. Benton includes her personal journal entries from various stages of her battle with alcohol and recovery. I literally gasped as I so clearly recognized my own denial, circular thinking and bewilderment. Benton then shares her experience in recovery. In addition to describing her journey through the 12 steps of AA, she gives a comprehensive, objective and evidence-based description of alternative (non-AA) treatment strategies and methods. She is clearly not only a recovering alcoholic, but also a compelling writer and treatment professional. Her combination of warmth, insight, and objectivity is unique and highly effective.

Before finishing the book, I attended my first 12-step meeting. Without this book, I never would have anticipated or recognized the denial that accompanied me at that meeting. I remain in early recovery. I refer to this book often. It reads as a survival manual--real, to the point--but with a deeply caring and personal voice. I highly recommend it to anyone who is contemplating sobriety, especially to those who look outwardly to deny an inner battle with alcohol.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Darrell E. Fisher on July 30, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is an excellent source of valuable, first-hand information on alcoholism. The author, a high-functioning alcoholic in her own right, has the intestinal fortitude to "tell it like it is." I found her grasp of the subject material to be outstanding, and her knowledge, courage and ability to describe in detail what a high-functioning alcoholic looks, acts, and functions like to be fascinating. She describes characteristics and traits, which paint a vivid profile of the high-functioning alcoholic, and draws personal parallels from her own history to close out each chapter. This book is a must read for any leader, manager, supervisor, treatment professional, legal professional, or law enforcement officer.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Teresa Meyers on May 21, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I read about this book in the NYT and kept shaking me head, yes. Yes, I know several people this could apply to. So many friends and family are leading highly successful lives so think they are invisible to disease and/or addiction. They say, that's not me! I make 6 figures, have a big house and kids etc. They are high-functioning! I've shared this book with one of them and they are definitely seeing the light - and getting help! Thanks, Ms. Benton.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By ToughGirl2 on October 8, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I bought this book to try to better understand what my husband was dealing with as an HFA. The author weaves in excerpts from her personal journal that she kept for many years providing valuable insight as she talks about the more physiologic effects of the disease. The HFAs have been given very little attention because they are hard to identify. This book helped me understand more about my husband and what was happening in our lives. I strongly recommend.
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Will on May 12, 2009
Format: Hardcover
With Understanding the High-Functioning Alcoholic Professional Views and Personal Insights Sarah Allen Benton adds an important new voice to the discussion and examination of the curse and conundrum of alcoholism. As an accomplished (highly functioning . . . sorry!) researcher and scholar, Benton offers an array of what I call "stats `n facts" (Benton's "Professional Views") which will amaze and alarm any reader with any interest in the topic of alcoholism. But Benton goes beyond providing a compilation of "stats `n facts." She adroitly uses these "Professional Views" as a framework or structure to support what I feel is the heart and soul of her book: her "Personal Insights." These insights, culled from years of her personal journal entries, recount her own experiences as an increasingly self-aware HFA (Highly Functioning Alcoholic). A gifted and painfully honest memoirist, Benton recalls Caroline Knapp (whom Benton, appropriately, cites throughout) whose seminal Drinking: A Love Story (1996) chronicles another HFA's journey.

By sharing her "Personal Insights," Benton illuminates the "Professional Views" and vividly reveals her growing awareness as she moves, over time, from denial to acceptance and from recognition to recovery. Her honesty is profound and profoundly moving. I found myself reading this work very deliberately: I was torn by my desire to devour the narrative, while also wanting to savor and reflect upon each revelation. In Understanding the High-Functioning Alcoholic Professional Views and Personal Insights, Benton successfully and courageously crafts an astonishing and deeply personal scholarly treatise.
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