Jack B. Weiner DRINKING New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1976,241 pp., $8.95.
This book is a result of numerous interviews and case histories of alcoholics and the author's personal struggle and observations about his own alcoholism. The book is well written and reads like an interesting novel. In presenting interviews with people living throughout the United States, the author wants to make it clear that alcoholism affects people from all walks of life - from the skid-row alcoholic to people in the military, priests, business executives, and physicians.
In a chapter dealing with alcoholism and industry, although the author criticizes some of the big companies who deny, neglect, or even dismiss their alcoholic employees, he reports that the highest alcoholism recovery rates today are being achieved not in hospitals or clinics but in factories and offices across the nation. In some industry alcoholism programs the recovery rate ranges from 60 to 80 or 90 per cent. The most successful programs are those that focus exclusively on monitoring job performance rather than on "looking for alcoholics" in witch-hunt fashion.
In an interesting chapter concerning the woman alcoholic, the author emphasizes the well-known fact that the woman alcoholic is protected and hidden by the family because of feelings of shame and the double standard imposed by society itself; she becomes sicker before being finally brought in for treatment.
Throughout the book the author is critical of health-care personnel - rightfully so, for although the medical profession has accepted alcoholism as a disease, many doctors still do not understand the relapsing nature of chronic alcoholism; they deny the primary diagnosis of alcoholism and treat only its physical complications, substitute other drugs for alcohol, and even refuse to treat alcoholics.
This book is recommended for the general public, as it gives a total picture of the alcoholic; but it can also be very useful to anyone working in the alcoholism field, as it is up to date concerning the nature and total treatment of the alcoholic.