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Understanding the High-Functioning Alcoholic: Professional Views and Personal Insights (The Praeger Series on Contemporary Health and Living) 1st Edition

4.2 out of 5 stars 34 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0313352805
ISBN-10: 0313352801
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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, PhD President, National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA)

"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 Psychologist/Addictions Specialist for Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers

"Sarah Allen Benton's work brings to life and thoroughly examines the risks and challenges that confront one-fifth of our nation's alcoholics, an often seemingly invisible element of our dysfunctional adolescents and adults, the high functioning alcoholic. This work will be a useful resource for 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 high-functioning alcoholism as well as HFAs themselves will find important identifying information and resources for hope and change." --Robert M. Klein, MD, MBA Director of Behavioral Health, Northeastern University Health and Counseling Services Assistant Clinical Professor, Tufts University School of Medicine

"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. Addiction Specialist Author: Before Its Too Late: Working with Substance Abuse in the Family

"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. Drawing on the experience of high functioning alcoholics, including her own experiences, this book is both instructive and inspiring." --Edward J. Khantzian, MD Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School at the Cambridge Health Alliance

"[E]xplores in depth a hidden class of alcoholics that are professionally successful; topics include High-Functioning Alcoholics (HFAs) in high school, college, and as emerging adults."

Fore Word

About the Author

Sarah Allen Benton is a licensed mental health counselor and therapist at McLean Hospital in the "McLean Residence at The Brook" transitional living program for substance abuse and dual diagnosis treatment in Waltham, MA.

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Product Details

  • Series: The Praeger Series on Contemporary Health and Living
  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Praeger; 1 edition (February 27, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0313352801
  • ISBN-13: 978-0313352805
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,420,760 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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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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By MSP on February 14, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Full of details regarding alcoholic behavior in many aspects of life, including teen, college and professional levels. Dispels myths about who we perceive are alcoholics--ie not your "bum/ wino" type, but in these cases, individuals who have wide influence, positions of power in society, whom we want to perceive as having "made it". A great companion for anyone wanting to understand a spouse, relative, boss, friend in the grasp of this horrible and progressive disease.

Also, explains the difference between excessive drinking styles and actual alcoholism as a disease of dependency.
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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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