Drink – A Book Review

A quick note to my fellow recovery bloggers and aspiring writers: if you haven’t yet tried it, I suggest using Grammarly’s plagiarism checker because you never know what us drunks are capable of (kidding!) – and it’s way more fun to read original stuff!

Drink Pic

As many of you know, I love recovery-related books. Before I ever got sober, I was reading books about people who had been there, done that. At the time, I secretly had concerns over my own drinking, but it would be months before I admitted I had a problem. And, then when I finally did get sober, I had this overwhelming need to know that there were other “normal” people like me out there who had gone through the same thing. That was a very lonely time for me and the voices that came through the pages of those books took away some of that loneliness and gave me hope.

Ann Dowsett Johnston’s recent book, “Drink: The Intimate Relationship Between Women and Alcohol” is one of those books that give us hope. But, not only does she give us hope by sharing her own experience with alcoholism and recovery; she gives us knowledge with her in-depth research regarding what has truly become an epidemic in our culture, stating, “We need to have a robust discussion about this issue: How does alcohol play out in your community? In terms of suicides? Kids being abused? Violence? Teens in emergency rooms? Are we having an adult discussion? I don’t think so.”

As I read about Johnston’s own experience with alcoholism, I found myself nodding my head, thinking, “that’s exactly how I felt!” Sometimes it’s hard for me to put into words what my alcoholism was like, but Johnston explains it perfectly when she says,”Suddenly, you realize booze has moved in. He’s in your kitchen. He’s in your bedroom. He’s at your dinner table, taking up two spaces, crowding out your loved ones. Before you know it, he starts waking you up in the middle of the night, booting you in the gut at a quarter to four. You have friends over and he causes a scene. He starts showing you who’s boss. Booze is now calling the shots.”

One of the main differences in Johnston’s book compared to other recovery-related books that I have read is that Johnston takes it a step further and really addresses the core issues related to drinking, women and our culture. She raises key questions, such as “why are we aware of the dangers related to trans fats and tanning beds, and blissfully unaware of the more serious side effects associated with our favorite drug?” And, most importantly in my opinion, she takes aim and questions the motives behind the alcohol industry, media and politics and how they all work together to feed this growing rise of drinking and alcoholism among women. Giving the history behind the alcohol industry to attract more women, she describes the development of “alcopop” or “chick beer,” and I couldn’t help but be reminded of the loads of Zima, Mike’s Hard Lemonade and Smirnoff Ice I used to drink.

Johnston urges us to educate ourselves about the serious risks of drinking and to start having real conversations about it. “When it comes to alcohol, we live in a culture of denial. With alcoholics representing just a tiny fraction of the population, it’s the widespread normalization of heavier consumption that translates to serious trouble.”

I often think about what I’ll tell my kids about drinking. While I would love to tell them to never touch it and avoid it like the plague, I know that’s not realistic. But, I will tell them the risks. I will tell them my story and how easy it is to get caught up in a culture that normalizes drinking. I will tell them they have a history and they need to be very, very careful. I will tell them that no matter what, they never HAVE to drink. And, I will tell them that alcohol changes you. It changes the person God intended you to be.

Johnston’s book inspires me. It inspires me to tell my story and do my part in telling the truth about drinking.

As a side note, I was not paid for this review – I simply liked the book. However, this post was sponsored by Grammarly.

6 responses

  1. As my son got older, I told him my story. I also told him his dad’s story. While his dad had been sober for 10 years when he died, he died from liver cancer. I’ve mentioned…in a kind way…that my son’s chances are pretty high since alcoholism can be genetic. He never saw us drink and for that I’m so grateful. Of course if I hadn’t gotten sober he probably wouldn’t have been born. That’s a very sobering thought!!
    I know that my son drinks from time to time…he’s 19 now and in college…but I’ve told him I trust him and love him and that I just want him to be safe. I’m proud of the young man he’s become and I like to think that my story will always be in his heart and in his mind:-)
    I’m definitely going to read this book!! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts about it!!!!

  2. Hi Chenoa,

    I too have just finished reading this book and found it really interesting (book review post to follow :)), so I enjoyed reading your thoughts so thank you.

    In your penultimate paragraph you talk about how to talk to your children about this issue. My son is 13-years old and I talked to him briefly about this issue the other day because I don’t want to be seen as this judgmental do-gooder. It’s important that he feels safe to call me when he has drunk too much, or anything related to drink.

    I asked him how I could best communicate my thoughts on alcohol and this is what he said.

    “Just be a role model Dad.”

    I felt a lot happier and suddenly remembered one of the reasons I quit in the first place.


    • Lee, thanks for sharing this! I love your son’s response – how true that is. And, he’s right. We just need to be good, responsible people for our children. Love that. Her book was different than a lot of the other drinking books I’ve read, but I enjoyed the educational component to it. Very eye opening. Look forward to reading your review!

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