cover image Sober for Good: New Solutions for Drinking Problems -- Advice from Those Who Have Succeeded

Sober for Good: New Solutions for Drinking Problems -- Advice from Those Who Have Succeeded

Anne M. Fletcher. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), $25 (288pp) ISBN 978-0-395-91201-0

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. (Apr. 17)