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Undrunk: A Skeptics Guide to AA Paperback – February 19, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Until he bottomed out and joined up as a last-ditch effort, Adams thought of Alcoholics Anonymous (like many pre-treatment addicts) as a repository for losers or the weak. In this touching, semi-irreverent look at a global fellowship at once transparent and mysterious, Adams lays out the "12 Steps" for readers as he chronicles his own introduction to the program. The distinguishing characteristic of this memoir is Adams's skepticism and willingness to analyze the process, maintaining enough distance to translate the story for non-members while holding dear his conviction in AA's power to heal (in her foreword, Mel B. notes that "one of AA's unwritten rules... is that one should utilize the program rather than analyze it"). Adams includes a smattering of the organization's history and personal revelations, plenty of stories and much translation from AA jargon. Adams maintains a welcoming balance of candor and gallows humor with helpful explication and unflinching awareness of the life-and-death stakes, making this an eye-opening and encouraging read for those who need help with addiction, their own or a loved one's.

About the Author

A.J. Adams is a professional writer with a little over one year in AA.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 216 pages
  • Publisher: Hazelden; 1 edition (February 19, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1592857205
  • ISBN-13: 978-1592857203
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 5 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #229,751 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I was always a lucky guy, at least I thought so: private school, name university, married the dream girl, had the perfect kids, big job, big house, big paycheck -- and big problem. I was an alcoholic and I was losing control of everything at once. My book "Undrunk: A Skeptic's Guide to AA" (Hazelden 2009)is the story of how a life in freefall was rescued by the venerable 75-year old program of Alcoholics Anonymous. I came to AA as a last resort looking only for a way to quit drinking and get my life back. Imagine my surprise when they told me I would have to quit drinking first and then we could think about straightening out my life! Didn't seem fair. But, I was out of air speed and good ideas, so I grudgingly gave it a try. I was as surprised as everyone else in my life when I found sobriety, health, and a new life that was better than anything I could have imagined as a drinker. I don't sugarcoat my story and I think big chunks of what happened to me are pretty funny (now that I am sober). I try to tell you the reader how recovery happened for me and what it felt like during that first year. My life story is a cautionary tale, for sure, but redemption and renewal are what I live by today. If you or someone you know could use a dose of that, you will like "Undrunk."

Best, A.J. Adams (pen name)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 32 people found the following review helpful By J. H. Cleary on March 17, 2009
Format: Paperback
This is a book for just about everyone. Adams describes how AA works and the experience of getting and staying sober in an eminently readable way, and he's a very funny guy. I loved going along with him to his first AA meeting, where everyone was nice to him and he felt superior to all those losers. (He'd had a couple drinks on the way.) Many months later, after rehab, he goes back to the same meeting and realizes what a jerk he was (everyone is even nicer this time). The book describes his first year of being sober, with many twists and turns in the road. It's amusing, entertaining, informative, insightful, sometimes touching and never boring.

It's a book that might get people to AA a few years earlier or make it less confusing when they finally do get there. It's a great book to give to anyone who's interested in the topic or would benefit from learning about it, either for themselves or for someone they love. Most people have seen or experienced the effects of alcoholism on families and individuals. It's hard to imagine anyone who wouldn't get something out of this excellent, enjoyable book.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Jose Hanson on April 10, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The sub-title of the book is "A Skeptic's Guide to AA," and certainly that would be me, but I'm much less a skeptic now after reading Adams' take on the organization. The author is intelligent, witty, thoughtful and observant. He also has (as drinkers often do) lots of great stories to tell, both sad and funny, of his alcoholism and his journey from skepticism and a nagging suspicion Alcoholics Anonymous was built on bunk to a new, richer life "undrunk."

It's hard to imagine there's anyone in the Western world, what with our drinking culture, who won't be glad to hear what Adams has to say. After all, who hasn't been touched by alcohol abuse? Even those who never touch a drop themselves probably have watched at least one family member or a friend or two go down the tubes from booze.

The hardest step, for Adams at least, and probably for any alcoholic, is getting to the first AA meeting. After all, who wants to admit he or she is too weak to break "a habit"? And who wants to join a club of losers? But as Adams soon finds, he has landed among the winners. The real losers never get there.

If you don't know much about AA (I didn't) and would like to help someone with a drinking problem, and if you think you can at least get them sober enough to read, then by all means buy this book. It's a great place to start.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By sjayne on March 19, 2009
Format: Paperback
In Undrunk, A.J. Adams demystifies the process of recovery through AA. His book touched me because of its honesty and humor. I've been an Alanon member for many years. I come from an alcoholic family and as they say in Alanon if you go to a party and there are only two alcoholicS or co-dependents in the group the two just naturally are drawn to each other so I also have many alcoholic and co-dependent friends -- some recovering and some active. What I have always enjoyed about my AA friends and family is their great sense of humor about their disease and recovery. That is precisely what I loved about this book. Adams not only gives us a sober look into the mind of a practicing alcoholic, the detox process, and recovery through AA but he does it with a great sense of humor. I've found many recovery books to be a little heavy and intimidating. Undrunk is not. Most people have absolutely no idea what to expect when they attend their first meeting. I think Adams' book gives the reader a good feel as to what to expect from AA. Speaking from personal experience in attending open AA meetings, I have always found the unexpected -- camaraderie, intelligence, humor and great fun. Adams shows us that.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By April from Al Anon on March 11, 2009
Format: Paperback
Undrunk is an inspirational book full of wisdom, laugh out loud humor, but most of all, hope. My husband is an alcoholic. I know how serious alcoholism is because it took my brother's life. I believe this book will literally save lives. I am giving this book to my husband. Anyone who wants to understand alcoholism and what to do about it, look no further. Read this book.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By T. J. Forquer on May 12, 2009
Format: Paperback
I had many fits and starts trying to "get" AA.I have many good things to say about AA, not the least of which that it brought contentment to my life. The one not so good thing I have to say about AA; is that like many fraternal organizations it has a private lexicon that members use to communicate with each other. This lexicon provides a form of "shortcut" communications for members but is has the unfortunate effect of making it difficult for newcomers to the organization to follow conversations. A.J.s book, besides being a very funny recounting of his trip from drunkeness to sobriety or put annother way from desperate unhappiness to contentment; is also a wonderful little handbook to decode the AA lexicon for the beginner. I wish I had had access to this book when I first entered AA.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By D. Post on June 28, 2009
Format: Paperback
I'm a recovering addict/alcoholic who is always looking for new literature. I had the pleasure of interviewing AJ on my radio show. I just finished the book and WOW! He hit the nail on the head. If you are a newcomer or old timer, it is a great read. He does a remarkable job at showing you how really easy this program can be, if you want it bad enough. It shows that there is fun in dealing with this life threatening disease.
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