Drink: The Intimate Relationship between Women and Alcohol is a sobering look – pun intended – at the role that alcohol plays in the lives of women. Ann Dowsett Johnston adeptly combines a well-researched analysis of women and drinking in today’s society with her own personal walk through alcoholism into sobriety. By using her own drinking history as a jumping off point for her research, she provides a vulnerability that makes the book much more relatable than had she just reported her findings.
Drink focuses on the dangers that women specifically face as it relates to alcohol, ones very different than those faced by men. Differences that start early on since most women, often as girls, start drinking to escape from whatever it is that ails them – insecurity, fear, abuse and neglect.
While Johnston recognizes the distinction between alcoholism and periodic over indulgence, she posits that binge drinking has not only become common for today’s woman, but also encouraged. Alcohol in the 21st century is what cigarettes were in the 20th. Do you ever see a commercial for alcohol that doesn’t involve beautiful people having fun?
Johnston argues that marketers have normalized excessive drinking with their campaigns to women. What woman, business executive or mother of two, doesn’t deserve to unwind at the end of a long day with vino in a crystal wine stem or a little “mommy juice” in a Tervis cup? The problem? Johnston hammers on this harsh truth: Alcohol kills, just like illegal street drugs. Yet instead of warning of alcohol’s dangers, we not only glamorize it, we glorify it.
To me, Drink should be on everyone’s reading list but if I had to narrow the field, I say it is a must read for parents of girls, women concerned about their own drinking and women with a history of problem drinking in their families. Drink is a harrowing yet realistic look at what has become a serious societal issue that needs to be addressed more openly and aggressively.
Elizabeth's rating: 4.5 Stars