“Understanding the High Functioning Alcoholic” was published in hardcover in 2009 and Kindle by ABC-CLIO Publishers as part of their “Contemporary Health and Living” series, under the review of Harvard physician Dr. Julie Silver. The paperback was published in 2010 by Rowman and Littlefield Publishers. This book is an in-depth exploration of a hidden class of alcoholics. The author challenges the stereotype of the “skid-row” alcoholic by lifting the veil on alcoholics who believe they can hide behind their external successes. This book is intended to inform the audience that being successful professionally or personally and being an alcoholic are not mutually exclusive. Alcoholism may manifest differently in individuals, but all alcoholics have the same disease. Research, interviews and the author’s personal experiences as both a high-functioning alcoholic (HFA) and professional experience as a Therapist are integrated into this comprehensive work. The first part of the book is comprised of chapters describing characteristics, behavior patterns and experiences of HFAs throughout high school, college, graduate school and as professionals. Through the use of journal entries and reflective pieces at the end of each chapter, the author offers her first-hand perspectives of the thought distortions that this disease created within her own alcoholic mind.
The second part of the book focuses on recovery and the obstacles that HFAs and all alcoholics face in terms of getting treatment. These include transcending the powerful levels of denial that exist within our society. The 12-Steps of recovery are examined as well as the difficulties that HFAs face when engaging in this recovery process. Finally, there is an exploration of the actions that sober HFAs find necessary not only to get sober—but to maintain long-term sobriety and find peace and spirituality within their lives.
“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.”
~Rachael Brownell, author of “Mommy Doesn’t Drink Here Anymore“
“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.”
~Edward J. Khantzian, MD
Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School at Cambridge Health Alliance
President and Chairman of the Board of Directors, Physician Health Services, Massachusetts Medical Society
“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.”
~David L. Rosenbloom, Ph.D, Director, Join Together- Boston University School of Public Health
“As a parent of adult alcoholics…I found this book an incredible exploratory and expository of the high-functioning alcoholic…heaped with eye opening data about the size and scope of the disease among ‘all’ the populations, professionals of every genre. The memoir aspect or confession was most enlightening and appreciated. Thank you…..Sarah.”
~Joan D., parent of adult alcoholics
“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.”
~Jeffrey Fortgang, Ph.D, CAS
Clinical Associate in Psychology, Harvard Medical School; Psychologist/Addictions Specialist, Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers; Former Director, Westwood Lodge Hospital (addiction/mental health treatment) Westwood, MA
_________________________________________________________________“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 resort directly 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. This work will be a useful resource for the lay person, professional and trainee interested in a realistic and professionally informed understanding of high-functioning alcoholics and the Twelve-Step recovery process. Those whose loved ones are suffering and living the effects of alcoholism as well as HFAs themselves will find important identifying information and resources for hope and change.”
~Robert M. Klein, MD, MBA Director of Behavioral Health, Northeastern University Health and Counseling Services; Assistant Clinical Professor, Tufts University School of Medicine
“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 well to 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.”
~David Treadway, Ph.D, private practice, addiction specialist and author of:
“Before Its Too Late: Working with Substance Abuse in the Family”, 1989
“Dead Reckoning: A Therapist Confronts his own Grief”, 1996
“Intimacy, Grief and Other Therapeutic Mysteries”, 2004
“Home Before Dark; A Family’s First Year with Cancer”, 2009
Copyright © 2015 BBHC LLC All Rights Reserved.