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Heavy Drinking: The Myth of Alcoholism as a Disease [Paperback]

2.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 July 1992
Heavy Drinking informs the general public for the first time how recent research has discredited almost every widely held belief about alcoholism, including the very concept of alcoholism as a single disease with a unique cause. Herbert Fingarette presents constructive approaches to heavy drinking, including new methods of helping heavy drinkers and social policies for preventing heavy drinking and the harms associated with it.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 195 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; Reprint edition (1 July 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520067541
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520067547
  • Product Dimensions: 20.8 x 14.1 x 1.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 390,793 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"This enlightening and challenging book is a call to compassion for heavy drinkers. . . . Given the brevity of this clearly reasoned and well-researched book, and the ease with which both professionals and laypeople are able to grasp the issues presented, "Heavy Drinking will no doubt become a seminal volume in the field of alcohol treatment."--James Alsdurf, "Christianity Today

About the Author

Herbert Fingarette, a distinguished professor at the University of California, has been a consultant on alcoholism and addiction to the World Health Organization, and a Fellow of the Stanford Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences. His work has had a significant influence on the U.S. Supreme Court, state supreme courts, and current national policy makers on substance abuse.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
The proposition that alcoholism is a disease has not always been with us. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

2.6 out of 5 stars
2.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
40 of 53 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Misleading and dangerous 18 Nov 2002
By A Customer
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is poison to the acoholic (a word the author is desperate to avoid), as it suggests total abstinence from alcohol is not the only solution. This, of course, is exactly the news that the problem drinker wants to hear, and what he constantly tells himself and those around him!
The central theme of the book is that the disease concept alcoholism as originally championed by AA (and since adopted by others) is fundamentally flawed, and that many alcoholics (sorry, heavy drinkers) return to normal social drinking after periods of alcoholic drinking. This may very well be what they tell themselves, follow-up studies extensively quoted in the book and the people around them, but I have yet to ever meet one of these people in the flesh.
There are far better books available on this subject (even if you want to avoid AA literature) than this one, especially if you think you've got a problem with drinking.
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30 of 41 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Fingarette writes a cool and logical prose to debunk the idea that alcoholism is the same illness for every drinker, with one cause (that first glass), one treatment (total abstinence), and one outcome (death) unless treated. He cites evidence to show that "heavy drinking," as he prefers to call it to distinguish it from a disease, is rather a behavioral problem with a whole span of different causes, treatments, and outcomes depending on the particular drinker. Drinking is here viewed as the way a drinker has of coping with problems, and as such inseparable from the rest of the drinker's life. He also discusses "cures" other than total abstinence, based on the idea of improved quality of life. Since these ideas are in opposition to the tenets of AA, and are not widely known, the book is provocative.
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18 of 25 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
I purchased this book a couple of years ago when I was struggling to control my 'heavy' drinking. I can honestly say that reading it kept me from seeking help and alcohol went on to almost destroy my life. At the time I first read it, I was happy to believe that there are no 'alcoholics', just 'heavy drinkers'. It gave me reason to keep drinking, thinking that somehow (the author doesn't mention how) I would someday control it. I am a classic example of a person affected by the disease (yes, disease!) of alcohol. I had no good reason to drink, although any reason was good enough! I had a good life which alcohol alone was rapidly destroying.
The author completely bashes AA, comparing it to a cult and saying that what AA does is a type of 'brainwashing'. Alcohol finally beat me, and I thought I had nothing to lose by trying AA. I was not 'chosen' by AA to join the exclusive club (something the author insinuates). It was hard to find a meeting in my area, and even now I have to drive 3 hours to attend. Finally I have found the support and encouragement I needed to stay sober. I feel in no way 'brainwashed' - and AA has no rules or real hierarchy. We are encouraged to be active members of society and our families - very un-cult-like in my opinion. I am not sure if alcoholism is a disease in the medical sense, and there is no miracle cure, but it is dangerous to say it is not - as it would be dangerous to say depression is not a relevant disease, so just 'snap out of it'.
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18 of 26 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars staying stopped. 17 Dec 2003
By A Customer
It is indeed dangerous to even start to suggest that alcoholism is 'heavy drinking'.
Those in denial may buy the book hoping it contains the secret many alcoholics are desperate to hear;-that one day they will be able to control their drinking.This is the mental obsession of alcoholism.
The book is not based on fact or any undersatnding of alcohol problems.
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18 of 26 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Lets face it, if you want to stop drinking, just stop. If you can't, you have a drink problem. Abstinence is the ONLY proven way. This book offers false hope. If you haven't got a drink problem you probably not reading it anyway. Hence it is dangerous for those who find it interesting. People die because they are sick and put trust in rubbish like this. Leave well alone.
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