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!

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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.

Thanks, Meredith

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And, yet again, another pretty, young woman who looked like she had it all together on the outside, was dying inside, slowly killing herself with alcohol. A sad story, but a story worth telling – a story we need to hear.

I don’t watch The Bachelorette, but I recognized Meredith Phillips picture as soon as I opened my recent issue of People magazine – one of my few guilty pleasures I still indulge in. I remembered her from the show years ago because she was from Portland, OR and had graduated from Oregon State, where I had recently finished my master’s degree.

My first thought in seeing her picture was “Oh, no,” because in many ways I still don’t want to believe that people like “her” can be alcoholics. But, that thought quickly turned to “Thank God she’s telling her story.”

Despite knowing that alcohol doesn’t discriminate, we still like to think that celebrities and “people who have it all” don’t have to deal with the “real” stuff. However, as I read her story, I realized that it could have been me writing it. Meredith grew up around alcohol, partied in high school, joined a sorority in college, lost her mom to cancer as a young adult and eventually found herself living for that next drink. Like many of us, she tried to control her drinking at times, but “soon, drinking wine every night was the norm. Before long ‘I looked forward to going out to lunch because it meant I had an excuse to drink during the day.'”

Her story is not “special” because she is a celebrity, but her story carries a certain power because people who viewed her as “the girl next door” now see her in a different light. Because, if alcoholism can touch her, there’s a very good chance it can touch all of us.

I know there’s more celebrities like her out there, struggling with addiction and alcoholism. While each of us has our own personal journey, I wish more people like Meredith would share their stories and bring attention to this horrific disease.

Eventually, Meredith spent two months in inpatient rehab in California before returning to her home in Portland. She has been sober for six months and, like all of us, is optimistic about the road ahead, saying “It’s not fun to start over again at 39, but life is short. And I have a second chance.”

No, it’s not fun. In fact, at times it’s pretty hard. But, I’m grateful for people like Meredith who share their stories with the world and bring light to the struggles and miracles of getting sober.