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Beyond the Influence: Understanding and Defeating Alcoholism Paperback – April 4, 2000

4.5 out of 5 stars 70 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In the nearly 20 years since Ketcham coauthored Under the Influence, it has become a classic in identifying and treating alcohol addiction. Now, with new coauthor Asbury (an experienced journalist and "recovered" alcoholic), she restates much of her original material, with additional support from recent scientific research. The authors define alcoholism as "a genetically transmitted neurological disease," not the result of a character defect or moral weakness. They explain in exhaustive detail the effects of "the drug alcohol" on the human body and brain in both alcoholics and nonalcoholics. Clearly and concisely, they offer abundant information on such usually neglected topics as the importance of nutrition and identifying early to middle-stage symptoms of the disease. They also break with conventional wisdom in other ways, encouraging intervention rather than waiting for alcoholics to "hit bottom" and seek help on their own, and they label alcoholics with six years of sobriety as "recovered" rather than continually "recovering." The most surprising statistic here is the relatively small number of people who consume most of the alcohol sold; the authors level a stinging indictment of the "Big Alcohol" industry and its deceptive tactics. The glare of their harsh light also falls on the government (for failing to hold the alcohol industry accountable and for jailing alcoholics rather than getting them into treatment that works), and on doctors (for failing to identify the disease earlier and treat it as a hereditary biochemical disorder that requires medical and nutritional treatment). This book offers a plethora of timely information; a blow to old stigmas, myths and stereotypes; and hope for a future in which many senseless tragedies can be avoided and lives saved. (Apr.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

This informative, levelheaded book draws on pioneering scientific work during the past 10 years to make the case for alcoholism as a disease. It isn't, however, wedded to that concept and deals fairly with other views of alcoholism. Literary quotations lighten the science as the book conveys the expansion of knowledge about how alcohol affects body and mind that the new understanding of the brain and nervous system has spurred. Armed with such understanding, the book points out, for example, why the term drinking and driving is more accurate than drunk driving: a driver doesn't have to be drunk to more easily get into an accident. Other intriguing new understandings include regarding the gene some associate with alcoholism as a disease as a reward gene rather than an alcogene, and responding to the question Is alcohol beneficial to your health? with a resounding in most circumstances, for most people, no. Much remains to be discovered; meanwhile, this valuable book reports current scientific knowledge. William Beatty
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam; 2nd Revised ed. edition (April 4, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553380141
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553380149
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.9 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (70 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #80,271 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on February 22, 2004
Format: Paperback
As a recovering alcoholic, 59 year old, professsional woman, this book has helped me tremendously. For over 20 years, I blamed my weak will-power for my inability to control my drinking. However,I have been successful in other areas of my life so I knew I did have a lot of self-discipline. This book helped convince me (and accept)that I am one of a minority of people who is genetically unable to drink alcohol moderately. The "brain research" documented in this book convinced me that many of the emotional problems that I experienced periodically in my early recovery were the result of the changes that alcohol had caused in my brain. I was able to expect some of the anxiety, sleep problems, depression, cravings, etc, and since I was prepared for them I was (am) able to deal with them. If you are still drinking or recovering, this book is full of information that will help you.
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Beyond the Influence is an update and an elaboration of Katherine Ketcham and James R. Milam's Under the Influence (1981). Whereas the first book was an emergency crash course in alcoholism, this is the full curriculum.
The main point the authors make is that alcoholism is a disease that anyone who has the susceptible internal chemistry can get, be he saint or sinner, tower of strength or shriveling weakling. It doesn't make any difference. Your personality or moral fiber are irrelevant. We tend to think that alcoholics are somehow immoral or possessed of a character flaw. But, as Ketcham, et al., demonstrate here, there is only one flaw that leads to alcoholism, and that flaw is one of internal chemistry and not of character. Furthermore, despite some pollyannaish delusion to the contrary, there is only one cure and this book makes it clear exactly what that cure is.
The updated material presented here (in the main, a greater appreciation of the power of Alcoholics Anonymous, a more in-depth discussion of the relevant chemistry, an elaboration of the spiritual aspects of recovery, an incisive attack on "The Booze Merchants," a clearer inventory of how alcoholics can be diagnosed before the onset of the latter stages of the disease, and a delineation of how recovery can be achieved) make this a very superior book and for the most part a worthy update. However these additions also make Beyond the Influence less accessible than UTI, which was more direct, and was smaller and weighed less. This last may seem a minor point, but I could pocket the old book while the new one needs to go into my backpack.
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By A Customer on July 5, 2000
Format: Paperback
Katherine Ketcham and William Asbury have written a book which should be required reading for every parent and high school student in America. The reality of what alcohol does to your brain and body, even in moderation, was a real eye-opener. For those unfortunate to have become addicted to this drug, the book offers not only answers, but hope and compassion. I urge everyone to read this well researched, very readable book.
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Format: Paperback
This book should be in every therapist's library, whether their field is addiction treatment or not. The content includes a rich array of contributions from a variety of authourities in the field of mental health and addictive disease. Not only is it a excellent reference book for the addictionologist, but it can be clearly understood by the layperson. I am familiar with the writings of Katherine Ketcham. This is among her best. I recommend this book highly.
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Citing the latest hard, cold facts of the most modern scientific discoveries, authors prove beyond the reasonable doubt, and state both loud and clear: Alcoholism is NOT a flaw of character, NOT a weakness of will, but the physiological disease, over which a person, stricken with it, has no control! And it's an equal opportunity disease, striking good people from all walks of life: blue collar workers as well as admirals and generals, senators and congressmen, farmers and sailors, high school dropouts and college professors, beggars and millionaires, idiots, geniuses and our neighbor, everyday common man and woman... (...)
People are different, authors claim and prove in great detail. Some 10 to 15% of us have a gene, which creates different enzymes within our system, which in turn make highly addictive chemicals while processing the ingested alcohol within our bodies. Human brain is uncapable to resist the craving for alcohol, caused by those chamicals, which are never produced by the bodies of non-alcoholics. Therefore, alcoholics are not more guilty of having alcoholism, as cancer patients are guilty of having cancer, or diabetics being ill with diabetis.
The only solution to the disease of alcoholism is professional, medical treatment, followed by warm and sensitive care of the family, support groups, and society. Punishment, consisting of creation of severe stress, humiliation and application of strong mental and spiritual pain won't work, only making condition worse. Much worse! Primitive and superficial psychological counseling won't work, either. Only complex, modern, professional treatment will.
Great reading for anyone affected by or interested in the disease of alcoholism.
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