HAMS: Harm Reduction for Alcohol

HAMS Member Book Reviews


Get Your Loved One Sober: Alternatives to Nagging, Pleading, and Threatening. by Robert J. Meyers, Ph.D. and Brenda L. Wolfe, Ph.D.

Reviewed by Chuck

This book provides advice and suggestions for people who seek to help their loved ones - spouse, parent child, sibling, or friend - recover from alcohol abuse or dependence. In addition, it encourages the reader seeking help to avoid being damaged themselves, whether physically or emotionally, by the loved one's behavior.

The book's methods are based on a program called Community Reinforcement and Family Training (CRAFT), which was developed by Dr. Meyers and others and appears to be based on cognitive-behavioral and motivational therapy techniques. In the Forward by Dr. Meyers, CRAFT is shown to be much more effective than Al-Anon and other conventional methods at encouraging the loved one to seek help.

The first half of the book sets out to help the reader establish a program, or "road map" to guide the reader through the process, while the second presents instructions on anticipating and reacting to drinking stimuli, communication skills, problem solving, behavior modification, seeking treatment, and being prepared for relapses.

I'm not in a position to compare this book to any others that attempt to do the same thing, as I haven't read any others. My initial impression is that the book's approach is reasonably thought-out and presented, for the most part. It does not have inflexible definitions of recovery, and has the end objective of getting the loved one better and the reader's life and the relationship happier.

I have two possibly minor objections: First, while CRAFT is claimed to be a far superior method than Al-Anon, both Al-Anon and Alcoholics Anonymous are mentioned later in the book without judgment, and no alternative peer-support group other than AA (i.e., SMART, RR, SOS, HAMS) are given a single mention in the book. Second, the book places an emphasis on getting formal treatment, although not being very specific about what defines it, and contrary to a large and growing accumulation of research that strongly suggest that the majority of people with substance abuse problems recover on their own without treatment.

On the whole, the book is an easy and understandable read, and would serve as a good reference for someone trying to help a loved one.

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