In the nearly 20 years since Ketcham coauthored Under the Influence, it has become a classic in identifying and treating alcohol addiction. Now, with new coauthor Asbury (an experienced journalist and “recovered” alcoholic), she restates much of her original material, with additional support from recent scientific research. The authors define alcoholism as “a genetically transmitted neurological disease,” not the result of a character defect or moral weakness. They explain in exhaustive detail the effects of “the drug alcohol” on the human body and brain in both alcoholics and non-alcoholics. Clearly and concisely, they offer abundant information on such usually neglected topics as the importance of nutrition and identifying early to middle – stage symptoms of the disease. They also break with conventional wisdom in other ways, encouraging intervention rather than waiting for alcoholics to “hit bottom” and seek help on their own, and they label alcoholics with six years of sobriety as “recovered” rather than continually “recovering.” The most surprising statistic here is the relatively small number of people who consume most of the alcohol sold; the authors level a stinging indictment of the “Big Alcohol” industry and its deceptive tactics. The glare of their harsh light also falls on the government (for failing to hold the alcohol industry accountable and for jailing alcoholics rather than getting them into treatment that works), and on doctors (for failing to identify the disease earlier and treat it as a hereditary biochemical disorder that requires medical and nutritional treatment). This book offers a plethora of timely information; a blow to old stigmas, myths and stereotypes; and hope for a future in which many senseless tragedies can be avoided and lives saved. (Apr.) ~ From Publishers Weekly
This informative, levelheaded book draws on pioneering scientific work during the past 10 years to make the case for alcoholism as a disease. It isn’t, however, wedded to that concept and deals fairly with other views of alcoholism. Literary quotations lighten the science as the book conveys the expansion of knowledge about how alcohol affects body and mind that the new understanding of the brain and nervous system has spurred. Armed with such understanding, the book points out, for example, why the term drinking and driving is more accurate than drunk driving: a driver doesn’t have to be drunk to more easily get into an accident. Other intriguing new understandings include regarding the gene some associate with alcoholism as a disease as a reward gene rather than an alcogene, and responding to the question Is alcohol beneficial to your health? with a resounding in most circumstances, for most people, no. Much remains to be discovered; meanwhile, this valuable book reports current scientific knowledge. William Beatty ~ From Booklist
A convincing argument for the medical model of alcoholism, with resulting recommendations for treatment. Ketcham (Under the Influence: A Guide to the Myths and Realities of Alcoholism, not reviewed), psychologist Ciaramicoli, and recovered alcoholics Asbury (former editor of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer) and Shulstad (cofounder of the National Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse counselors) maintain that alcoholism is a true medical disease rooted in abnormalities in brain chemistry. Alcoholics bodies simply respond differently to alcohol than everyone else a difference that is either rooted in genetics or acquired by intense and sustained exposure to alcohol. Alcoholism is not, they emphasize, a personality disorder or character defect. The authors examine what is known about the action of alcohol upon the body (both normal and alcoholic), then look at how a diagnosis of alcoholism can be established (most often, it is an inexact art a simple series of questions). They go on to explore the most effective treatments (first and foremost is lifelong abstinence from alcohol and drugs), particularly addressing the question of why a physical disease requires psychological and spiritual components in treatment. Finally, the authors name the beer, wine, and distilled-spirits industries as principal players in promoting our society’s view of alcoholism as a psychological disease and propose educational, prevention, and treatment programs to institute change. A thorough, responsible presentation. ~ From Kirkus Reviews
“Comprehensive, balanced yet provocative, Beyond the Influence blends up – to – date research findings with practical knowledge about the cause and consequences of this disease. An excellent resource that resonates with courage and conviction.” — Ernest P. Noble, Ph.D., M.D., Pike Professor of Alcohol Studies, UCLA, and former Director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
“A brave and lucid book…[that] will open many people’s eyes and save many people’s lives. A must – read for anyone dealing with alcoholism.” — Jeff Jay, president of the Terry McGovern Foundation and director of Program Development at Brighton Hospital, Brighton, Michigan
“A vital contribution for anyone who wants to understand the science of alcoholism, plus how to treat it.” — Claudia Black, Ph.D., M.S.W., author of It will Never Happen to Me
“A book of great importance…it furnishes a generous dose of hope…[and] a rallying cry for action.” — Jay Lewis, former editor and publisher of The Alcoholism Report
From the Inside Flap:
This invaluable work will contribute much to the battle against our number one disease.”
–from the Foreword by George McGovern, former senator and author of Terry: My Daughter’s Life – and – Death Struggle with Alcoholism
About the Author:
Katherine Ketcham has been writing nonfiction books for forty years. Her work has been published in sixteen foreign languages and has sold nearly one million copies. She founded and serves on the board of a grassroots nonprofit organization called Trilogy Recovery Community, which helps youth and their family members dealing with alcohol and other drug problems. Ketcham lives in Walla Walla, Washington.
Dr. Arthur Ciaramicoli is director and chief psychologist of the Alternative Therapy Center of the Metrowest Medical Wellness Center in Natick, Massachusetts and is an instructor at Harvard Medical School.