Picks and Pans Review: A Woman Like You

updated 04/21/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 04/21/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST

by Rachel V.

Anyone, as the title of this book suggests, can be an alcoholic. The 19 confessional tales collected here are told (anonymously) by a strikingly diverse group of women, including a 22-year-old former drug dealer, a prima ballerina, a nun, a lesbian businesswoman and the author herself. (Rachel V. is the pseudonym for "a well-known writer and a recovering alcoholic") "My denial was so great that I convinced myself that vomiting in the morning was what everybody did," admits one woman, a physician. Perhaps because the same extreme emotions—fear, denial, despair and eventual joy during recovery—are voiced again and again, the stories begin to lose some of their impact by the end of the book. And the repeated expressions of fervent devotion to Alcoholics Anonymous, while understandable, become tiresome. These excesses do not detract from the potential here as an aid to alcoholics or to those who might fear they may be heading that way. An introduction by LeClair Bissell, M.D., a former president of the American Medical Society on Alcoholism, focuses on the special problems faced by women alcoholics: the lingering social stigma that makes it "much more unacceptable for a woman to be an alcoholic than a man," the tendency of many people to interpret female alcoholism as depression, the frequency of cross-addiction (alcoholism combined with drug dependency). The book also lists further sources of information. Probably most helpful to women struggling with this problem, however, is the testimony of others who have been there and back. "To put it simply," writes one, "I have been drunk, and I have been sober, and sober's better." (Harper & Row, $15.95)

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