Former First Lady Ford should take credit for helping remove the stigma from the disease of alcoholism, being the foremost...



Former First Lady Ford should take credit for helping remove the stigma from the disease of alcoholism, being the foremost public figure ever to tell all about entering a rehab for detoxification and treatment. She can also share credit with Chase for having written a richly moving memoir about her recovery. This is a book to give a needy friend or to read for your own enlightenment. Every page is dramatic, absorbing, clearheaded and modest. The Times of My Life, Ford's earlier biography, was ready for the printer when she went into treatment, and she had to be forced to add a final chapter about her addictions. The response to that single chapter prompted her at last to write the present account. Her strategy here is inspired. For much of the way, she allows her family and friends to tell her ""war story"" for her and to give their observations about the progress of her recovery. She could not have chosen more wisely. Her many family members, while loving, withhold little about how they felt about the drinking and druggy Betty Ford. The book opens with an ""intervention"" scene. Her daughter Susan Ford Vance was distressed to the hilt with her mother. Betty had become a pill addict while trying to relieve a pain in her neck and her arthritis, and her doctors were reluctant to make her face up to the incredible amount of drags she was taking. So Susan got advice and arranged to have the intervention take place. Unaware of what was about to happen, Ford found herself seated with her entire family as one by one they unloaded on her all the anguish she'd caused them individually. Would she go into treatment? She broke down--but was still bitter with denial when she did go for detox. Her new counselors gave her no special treatment, made her room with three other addicts. ""I would guess that I didn't really accept my alcoholism until I was almost a year in the program."" She is especially good about women alcoholics--who have to deal with physical problems (as did Ford with her mastectomy) that heighten dysfunction even more severely than with men. And her recovery is not all sweetness and light. Says Susan: ""I saw a change in her immediately, and at first, I didn't like it all. I couldn't stand it. All of a sudden she was aware. . ."" She's also keen on treatment centers such as her own Betty Ford Center and on how rehabs help the alcoholic recover a lot faster. (Her celebrity patients are allowed their anonymity.) A triumph, agleam with inspiration.

Pub Date: March 6, 1987


Page Count: -

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1987