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Almost Alcoholic: Is My (or My Loved One's) Drinking a Problem? (The Almost Effect) [Paperback]

Robert Doyle , Joseph Nowinski
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

15 April 2012 Almost Effect
Every day, millions of people drink a beer or two while watching a game, shake a cocktail at a party with friends, or enjoy a glass of wine with a good meal. For more than 30 per cent of these drinkers, alcohol has begun to have a negative impact on their everyday lives. Yet, only a small number are true alcoholics--people who have completely lost control over their drinking and who need alcohol to function. The great majority are what Dr. Doyle and Dr. Nowinski call Almost Alcoholics; a growing number of people whose excessive drinking contributes to a variety of problems in their lives. In Almost Alcoholic, Dr. Doyle and Dr. Nowinski provide the tools to: identify and assess your patterns of alcohol use; evaluate its impact on your relationships, work, and personal well-being; develop strategies and goals for changing the amount and frequency of alcohol use; measure the results of applying these strategies; and make informed decisions about your next steps. The Almost Effect TM Series presents books written by Harvard Medical School faculty and other experts that offer guidance on common behavioural and physical problems falling in the spectrum between normal health and a full-blown medical condition. These are the first publications to help general readers recognise and address these problems.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Hazelden Information & Educational Services (15 April 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1616491590
  • ISBN-13: 978-1616491598
  • Product Dimensions: 21.1 x 13.5 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 344,688 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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"The stories in "Almost Alcoholic" are so powerful. I just loved this book!""--Jeanne Segal, PhD, psychologist and founder of""Insightful and self-reflective, "Almost Alcoholic" provides readers with an important opportunity to look within and consider the nature of their own relationship with alcohol.""--Ryan M. Travia, M.Ed., Harvard University Health Services""A stunning achievement. "Almost Alcoholic" shines light on behavior that has thus far largely escaped scrutiny--namely drinking that is definitely causing problems even though it doesn't rise to a diagnostic level--and not only helps individuals understand the costs of their drinking but goes further, offering practical advice and solutions for those so afflicted.""--J.Wesley Boyd, MD, PhDStaff Psychiatrist, Cambridge Health Alliance and Children's Hospital BostonAssistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School""The Almost Effect Series of books captures the fundamentally hum experiences and helps readers interpret what the symptoms might mean--both for themselves and others. The Almost Effect collection should be required reading for those interested in psychology and human behavior.""--Howard J. Shaffer, PhD, Associate Professor at Harvard Medical School, Director of the Division on Addiction at the Cambridge Health AllianceCo-author;" Change Your Gambling, Change Your Life

About the Author

A nationally recognized expert on alcoholism, Robert Doyle, M.D., is a clinical instructor in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and is on the medical staff at Harvard's prestigious teaching hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital. Clinical psychologist Joseph Nowinski, Ph.D., was assistant professor of Psychiatry at the University of California--San Francisco and associate adjunct professor of Psychology at the University of Connecticut. He is currently a columnist for the Huffington Post and works in private practice.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Wendy
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is a simple, non-judgemental look at alcohol use and whether it could be an issue for you or your loved one. It offers tools and techniques to understand why you drink and to then offer tried and tested ways to break the pattern.

It would suit anyone who feels they might be drinking too much or that their drinking is impacting their lives.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.3 out of 5 stars  20 reviews
24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Toolkit for catching yourself before you fall 27 Mar 2012
By Amy Eden - Published on
This book is for those who are worried that they may be becoming alcoholic. It's an easy-to-follow tool kit that could likely turn-around lives...if allowed to. (Why wait till you're at the bottom of the hole to dig out?) This book offers a hopeful alternate detour away from a personal landslide. In addition to potential alcoholics, the book is for people who are concerned that someone they care about may be on the path to possibly becoming an alcoholic.

The book sheds light on common perplexing questions: "How many drinks a night are too many?" Or, "What if I never drink alone, can I be alcoholic?" Or, "He came home drunk last night, and doesn't remember a thing. Should I worry?" Usually, it's the other person wondering this, not the problem drinker (if only one could be just a tad more self-aware while developing a drinking problem.)

A hidden benefit to this book is that it may help un-diagnose someone who's worried they are becoming an alcoholic, but aren't. There are so many self-investigation jumping-off points in this book, that anyone will be hard pressed to finish it without discovering that another substance, or activity, plays a role in one's life much like alcohol does for the almost alcoholic (like sugary treats).

Part 1 focuses on explaining what an "almost alcoholic" is, with chapters called:

What is Almost Alcoholic?
Becoming an Almost Alcoholic
Your Relationship with Alcohol
Making the Decision to Change

These chapters cover concepts like drinking to relieve stress, drinking alone, and the looking forward to a drink/drinking as indicators of being in the midst of developing a problem with alcohol. They contain illustrative stories of people (made-up and/or real composites of clients) that bring the ideas of the chapters to life, showing how issues with alcohol can play out in relationships. For example: Betsy drinks out of sheer loneliness after her sons move away and her husband dies. Another example: Ann drank with her husband to "decompress" after work and had extra drinks after their kids went to bed; then she began having a hard time sleeping, got deeply fatigued and lost interest in sex. Those are just two examples; throughout the book there are likely enough for almost everyone to relate to.

Part 2, which is twice as long, focuses on solutions, which chapters called:

Looking at the Man (or Woman) in the Mirror
Building a Support System
Changing Routines
Developing Refusal Skills
Coping with Loneliness and Boredom
Dealing with Anger
Overcoming Shame and Guilt
When Self-Help Isn't Enough: Other Drugs and Other Disorders
Is Abstinence the Better Choice?

Kudos to these guys for offering practicalities, for focusing on how to get the heck off the dismal, almost alcoholic path; so often books like this (that diagnose) focus on the diagnosis, then tack on a couple practical chapters about how to help yourself, but never enough. I admire the authors for giving such focus to what their readers would need most: tools.

I have two criticisms of this book. One aspect that was problematic for me (and quite possibly will not bug others) was the unending use of the phrase "almost alcoholic" throughout the book, which I found distracting and overbearing. It seemed to be used so often throughout each chapter that I found it practically becomes a diagnostic convention--a slippery slope in the domain of un-diagnosable, `potential' alcoholism. Since "almost alcoholic" isn't a diagnosis, I'd have preferred it if instead a variety of words, terms, and phrases had been used throughout the book rather than something so branding. My second criticism is that in many instances the case examples (Sally, Ann, Jamal, etc.) dominated chapters and I would have liked more balance between client stories and direct advice and explanations given from the authors to their readers.

Full disclosure: the publisher sent me an advance copy of this book. I do plan to recommend it to people who are questioning their use of alcohol or who are concerned about a loved one. The book shares important truths about human behavior, and is a worthwhile tool for self-evaluation. The concept that someone can be "almost" alcoholic is certainly fascinating.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A helpful reframe for changing your drinking patterns 25 Aug 2012
By Jeanine M. Swenson - Published on
How many times have you heard someone proclaim, "Well at least I'm not an alcoholic!" Many people will have definite ideas about what consitutes problem or addictive drinking, but this is the first book that I have come across that breaks down the continuum of behavior from social drinker to out-of-control dependancy in a thoughtful, helpful and introspective way. It asks some probing and difficult introductory questions like, "What is my relationship to alcohol and drinking" or, "Do I use alcohol to soothe uncomfortable feelings like loneliness, worry or hurt." What I especially like about this book, is that the assessment section is concise and takes up only about the first third of the narrative while the solutions sections make up the core of the book. After discussing five key signs that may indicate problems, the authors then embark on a thorough dissection of things that are keeping patterns stuck. These solutions are varied and creative and definitely stay away from a one-size-fits-all recipe for reducing alcohol consumption or avoiding worry if current consumption is not a problem for you.

So thoroughly has drinking and alcohol become part of our adult culture, that we may not necessarily see what a sneaky poison it can be in our lives and relationships. And once it enters a family system, it may be very hard to get it out. This book helps the interested reader to evaluate patterns of behavior and make changes proactively, if necessary. The writing is also gentle and nonblaming around some issues that may be quite sensitive and difficult. Thank you, Drs. Doyle and Nowinski, for expanding these important internal and external conversations around drinking in a way that will hopefully have lasting impact.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is right on target! 28 Mar 2012
By Alex - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition
Finally! Someone addresses the nuances (gray areas) of this issue from a contemporary view - the issue is not black and white and the language here is clear and insightful. Totally frank but doesn't shy from the intricacies --this is a great read - I'm engrossed and only just got it. If it seems like it might be helpful to you, it will be ; practical, hopeful and compelling.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Almost Alcoholic 18 April 2012
By turtle - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The title "Almost Alcoholic" ALMOST kept me from reading this book. I thought alcoholism was pretty black and white like a light switch. This book changed my mind and introduced me to the gray area. As a former problem drinker who now abstains, I was impressed with how this book captured every aspect of alcohol use and abuse. The authors offer practical ways to assess whether drinking is negatively impacting your life. It perfectly captures the gradual slide to increased drinking and the thought processes behind it. The book also offers a wide range of helpful solutions for every age group. There are many strategies for dealing with alcohol in social and family settings. When I finished the book I thought, "This book is right on the money when it comes to alcohol! If I had a magic wand, everyone would read it." Almost Alcoholic: Is My (or My Loved One's) Drinking a Problem? (The Almost Effect)
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you can't fool yourself who can you fool? 9 May 2012
By Maine Arts Writer - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
If you ever had a sneaking suspicion something wasn't quite right, nervously surveyed the roadside for police presence or left an unpleasant and lasting impression on the guests attending your cousin's wedding as a result of your alcohol consumption, this book is for you.

After reading the Almost Alcoholic I am left asking myself some questions. Which is to say that I think the book serves the purpose in allowing the reader to self assess. I found the book very interesting and the idea of raising awareness of the Almost Alcoholic concept inspired. I think the concept of the book is a huge leap forward in enlightening people of the dangers of drinking in what now may be described as "moderate" but could be dangerous for some. Without a doubt this book is a great and meaningful work that is sure to be recognized in opening up increased dialog and understanding on the subject.

Overall the book offers considerable insight through the use of characterizations of relatable thorny, demoralizing and unaddressed emotional issues presented in an understanding, compassionate and non-judgemental way.

Initially you might consider this is just another book by the medical community yet again denying us another one of our pleasures.

But after reading the book a second time it almost seems like an entirely different book. The first time I blew through it on a weekend hoping to reassure myself that in fact I didn't have an issue with alcohol despite knowing that I had most definitely had my own slippery slope "Almost Alcoholic" experience over the course of the two years prior to my divorce. After abstaining for several months I was hoping for a reality check which in fact the book delivered.

The Almost Alcoholic offers a very thorough assessment of most every flimsy excuse and self deceptive practice in alcohol use you may have hoped to pass off as plausible and true to both yourself and others. For added measure the book discusses exactly why these excuses won't work in the long run in that even if you don't ultimately experience alcoholism that your body just may betray you in developing a serious illness as a result of your alcohol use. You might also consider that you may be arrested and have the corresponding negative consequences in your relationships, finances and overall effectiveness as a productive individual. Unfortunately it rings true and is indeed sobering.

Credit should be given to the authors for conveying the aforementioned spot on insight and advice in a straight forward and informative manner without finger wagging.

The only questionable aspect of my buying experience of this book was I considered the Amazon automated check out recommendation of two books from the Fifty Shades of Grey S & M bodice busting (romance?) trilogy an odd even comical pairing to accompany the purchase of the Almost Alcoholic.

Given the only Amazon purchase of any book that might be considered remotely naughty was from the potty humor Capt. Underpants series for my sons years ago and that my idea of romance is far more tame considering a candlelit dinner and slow dancing a thrill. (No contract required.) I'd likely turn "Fifty Shades of Red" if I were less aware of the buzz caused by these bestsellers and were to accept this buying recommendation.
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