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An excellent been-there guide--in a crowded field--by an ex-alcoholic who has since become a ""pretreatment counselor"" for the National Council on Alcoholism. Vaughan pinpoints two major precipitating factors in addictive drinking: abnormal levels of stress, and contributing elements in body chemistry. He concludes that alcoholics experience nearly constant anxiety because of inappropriate choices in life and the inability to see beyond snafus. Hence they often consider themselves ""trapped"" in bad jobs, marriages, etc., without facing up to the alternatives. The drinking, of course, is to relieve the painful stress: but since 95 percent of all alcoholics, he claims, are hypoglycemic, the blood sugar highs from alcohol are inevitably counterbalanced by an oversupply of insulin, which lowers the drinker's mood even further. The first step is ""drying out""; and Vaughan gives highest marks to Alcoholics Anonymous for supportive companionship, though he recommends combining it with a broad approach on other fronts to meet individual needs. (Some possibilities: detoxification centers, recovery homes, self-chosen antabuse.) He does not recommend tranquilizers, since they artificially relieve the stress with which the alcoholic must eventually learn to cope. Vaughan is best on the psychological components of the typical drinker: denial, false pride, repressed anger--but also sensitivity, idealism, a love of heroism. A final section counsels the loved ones who wish to help: family members have been stressfully affected by the drinking too, and recovery can be more of a team effort with Alanon, gradually increasing pressure on the drinker, and so forth. A fine addition to the literature for those seeking both information and sympathetic nudging.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1982
Publisher: Viking