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The Betty Ford Center Book of AnswersReview - The Betty Ford Center Book of Answers
Help for Those Struggling With Substance Abuse and for the People Who Love Them
by James W. West
Pocket Books, 1997
Review by Wyndham Perring
Jan 12th 2000 (Volume 4, Issue 2)

There are many things in life that afford great pleasure and reviewing a good book comes close to the top of the list. Even reviewing a poor book has its own merits. The Betty Ford Center Book of Answers enters none of those categories.

Having started and ploughed through the first 25 pages, I put it down. 24 hours later I decided to pick it up and found myself doing the dishes instead. Persisting, I picked it up again and read on... and on... and on. Hard work, because what I was doing was reading a leaflet produced in book form.

It does not take a genius to understand that alcohol taken immoderately can have great disadvantages. It can make you drunk, sick, and stupid.

All drugs can have considerable side effects. This book answers questions about alcohol/drugs. The trouble is it answers the same questions over and over... and over. For example:

"I drink 25 glasses of cheap wine a day. Am I an alcoholic?"

"Why do people get hooked on cocaine?"

"It gives you a nice feeling and people like that feeling but as it happens if you take large lumps you will suffer cardiac arrhythmia, respiratory failure, asphyxia and probably death by way of convulsive seizure"

I have paraphrased the above. The trouble is that all the questions do, and must necessarily receive the same answers. Alcohol is not good for you, nor are the other various drugs listed. That answers all the questions. Do NOT do it and if you do, or have, get help fast. Lots and lots of help.

The book suffers heavily for being blind on one side. It takes a stance that says even one drink a week can be bad for you. Leave alcohol alone, it recommends. You will only end up drunken, blind, stupid and broke, to say nothing of experiencing total degradation and being a liability to society.

It takes no account of the huge pleasures afforded to millions of sensible human beings who might enjoy fine wines, a glass of beer or two with the boys, or a glass of brandy after a decent meal. The imbalance makes the book a boring preaching tedious read. Not all those who drink are alcoholics. Those who drink to excess would appear to have a large problem and should go for help. This book would have been better off being a six-page booklet and saving 200 pages of tedium. It is not doubted that the Betty Ford Clinic has done massively good work to those who have gone for help. For the rest, let me give some advice. Drink and drugs are not good news.If you don't know that by now - you need help!!

Wyndham Perring is an independent designer and consultant in medical products.  He lives in Stratford-upon-Avon, England.

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