Understanding the High-Functioning Alcoholic: Professional Views and Personal Insights

Overview

When people think of the 'typical' alcoholic, images of the 'fallen-down' drunk come to mind. Most do not think of professional men and women with successful careers, vibrant families, and active social lives. However, high-functioning alcoholics exist in great numbers, are unseen, and suffer no less than their struggling, failing counterparts. They include corporate presidents, politicians, teachers, tradesmen, law enforcement officials, lawyers, physicians, and even stay at home parents, who are by most ...

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Understanding the High-Functioning Alcoholic: Professional Views and Personal Insights

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Overview

When people think of the 'typical' alcoholic, images of the 'fallen-down' drunk come to mind. Most do not think of professional men and women with successful careers, vibrant families, and active social lives. However, high-functioning alcoholics exist in great numbers, are unseen, and suffer no less than their struggling, failing counterparts. They include corporate presidents, politicians, teachers, tradesmen, law enforcement officials, lawyers, physicians, and even stay at home parents, who are by most accounts successful. Even as they have created lives most people would envy, the realities of alcoholism eventually strike, and recovery is just as arduous for high-functioning alcoholics as it is for lower functioning alcoholics. Benton reveals the extent of the problem, the challenges in recognizing it, the warning signs, and the methods for addressing it. Through research and interviews with both addiction experts and sober high-functioning alcoholics, she illustrates how, when, and why they become addicted, as well as the reasons their alcoholism is so hard to admit, detect, cope with, and overcome. Weaving her own story of alcoholism and recovery into the text in the form of past journal entries and reflective pieces, Benton takes us first hand into the lives of high-functioning alcoholics.

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Editorial Reviews

David L. Rosenbloom
Alcoholism has many faces and high-functioning alcoholics are invisibly among us every day. Congratulations and thanks to Sarah Allen Benton for the courage she displays by showing her face and telling her story.
Jeffrey Fortgang
I hope this book will help to puncture the myth that alcoholism/addiction is a condition associated with those with less education or lower incomes. Too often, individuals in powerful or highly respected positions suffer much longer than necessary because they and those around them (including their treatment providers) are blinded by their social status. Professionals may delude themselves despite facing a higher-than-average risk, seeking help only after their careers are coming apart.
Robert M. Klein
Understanding the High-Functioning Alcoholic provides a thorough description as well as Benton's experience of working a Twelve-Step program, but also addresses many important issues, including the role of spirituality and the controversy of controlled drinking, so often part of the discussion about the HFA, by providing information and positions from a variety of sources and giving the reader a chance to make informed conclusions. This work makes good use of realistic vignettes that do not resortdirectly to 'worst case' scenarios, but rather, illustrate the dilemma of the HFA in everyday settings and at all levels of development. Benton brings personal credibility and insight as she freely discloses her experiences as an alcoholic, including her own journey through her Twelve-Step program. She supports the assertion that the 'bottom' an HFA hits is often emotional in nature, and she applies the emotional dimension of an HFA in her first person accounts to provide a social, family, vocational and psychological picture. Data, professional observations and personal experience are effectively interlaced in an overall well informed yet conversational tone.
David Treadway
Sarah Benton's book Understanding the High-Functioning Alcoholic is a gift to both clinicians and clients alike. It is a thorough and insightful discussion of an often misunderstood and mistreated clinical group that frequently does not respond wellto traditional psychotherapy, or psychopharmacology, or simply Twelve Step approaches. Sarah presents an integrated treatment approach in a highly personal and engaging way that truly bridges the gap between research, clinical work and moving personal experiences. Despite 35 years of working with this population of substance abusers, I was delighted to see how much I learned from Sarah's book. The highest compliment that I can pay her for this accomplishment is that I immediately thought of many clients and therapists that I could give it to..
Rachael Brownell
Within the first few pages of reading Sarah Allen Benton's book Understanding the High Functioning Alcoholic it is clear the reader is in excellent hands. Ms. Benton's insights into the high functioning alcoholic, using interviews and personal reflections, resonates and inspires. That a book of this depth and solidity could also be an enjoyable heart-warming read is testament to her skill and passion for her subject. Ms. Benton's book provides a road map to greater understanding and compassion for the many silently suffering practicing alcoholics in our society.
Edward J. Khantzian
An insufficiently appreciated fact is that alcoholism takes on many faces and disguises. The falling-down drunk is the most common and unfortunate stereotype of an alcoholic, but represents less than 10% of the 18 million alcoholics in America who suffer with it.
Through telling case examples, interviews with recovering alcoholics of all ages, accomplished professionals and executives, and through her own reflections, Sarah Allen Benton brings to awareness that the largest majority of alcoholics are high functioning and, too often, go undetected. As she eloquently states, 'The story of the high functioning alcoholic is seldom told, for it is not one of obvious tragedy, but that of silent suffering.' Drawing on the experience of high-functioning alcoholics, including her own experiences, this book is both instructive and inspiring. It will help a high-functioning alcoholic face their denial of alcoholism and help family and friends who witness it to better appreciate and understand it. Whether it is in the pre-high or high schooler, the college student, young adult, or the successful executive, professional, or athlete, Sarah Allen Benton shines an illuminating light on the plight of high-functioning alcoholics from all walks of life and, better still, point the reader to helpful pathways for recovery.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781442203907
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/16/2010
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 231,219
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Sarah Allen Benton is a licensed mental health counselor and therapist at McLean Hospital in the "McLean Residence at the Brook" transitional living program for substance abuse treatment in Waltham, Massachusetts. Additionally, she works in private practice in the Boston area and speaks on the topic of high-functioning alcoholics to a variety of audiences. Resources on this topic are available at www.highfunctioningalcoholic.com.

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Table of Contents

Series Foreword
Preface

Part I. Active Alcoholism
1. Introduction: High-Functioning Alcoholics
2. In the Beginning: High-Functioning Alcoholics in High School
3. Freedom: High-Functioning Alcoholics in College
4. Adrift: High-Functioning Alcoholics as Emerging Adults
5. Falling Uphill: Professional, Intelligent, and Alcoholic
6. Attempts to Cure the Problem: Out of Control and Hitting Bottom

Part II. Recovery
7. A New Start: The Paths to Sobriety
8. Filling the Void: Spirituality, Religion, and the Bottle
9. Transformation: The Twelve Steps
10. The Challenge: Life in Recovery

A: DSM-IV TR—Substance Dependence Diagnostic Criteria
B: DSM-IV TR—Substance Abuse Diagnostic Criteria
C: Alcohol Screening Test
D: Alcohol Recovery Programs Contact Information

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 21, 2009

    It's about time!

    I feel like like this book has been needed for so long! Just because you only drink on weekends doesn't mean you're not an alcoholic. I found the personal stories, the authors as well as the others in the book, so insightful. I could relate to them and I could relate others in them too.

    The book goes through different age groups as well (high school, college, grad school, working) that it's easy to identify with in different life stages and how drinking is involved in all of them.

    There is also a great section toward the end that shares many resources about how to get help and all the different options out there - I never there were so many!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 11, 2009

    Filling a gap in alcoholism literature

    This book is a much needed contribution to the current literature on alcoholism. Many books address more dramatic and tragic stories, but the topic of high-functioning alcoholics is one which so many readers will relate to. This book has a great balance of research, stories of sober alcoholics and the author's own story. So many people can benefit from this work including the general public, students, families of alcoholics and those who are in recovery or questioning their own drinking.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted September 10, 2010

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    Posted July 13, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 12, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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