Wednesday, August 27, 2014

100 Book Project: Book #64: A Serious and Important Book. Another One I'm NOT Giving Back*

From Binge to Blackout: A Mother and Son Struggle with Teen Drinking by Chris and Toren Volkmann.

Before I settled down to read  this book I messaged the super-sharp extra successful student who assigned it to me and asked how he ended up with this book.

He messaged back that his mother gave copies of this book to him and to his friends.

I messaged back "Wow, you have quite a Mom!" then sunk into this brave book, captivated by the  brutal honest discussion of the disease of addiction.

Half of this book is written by a mother of three boys who tries to make sense of how and why one of her sons became an alcoholic. Her chapters are filled with statistics about the cultural acceptance of binge drinking on college campuses and suggestions on how parents can prepare their children to NOT become part of the 33% of college students who have alcohol disorders.

Addicts are people who continue to use a substance despite it's adverse consequences, and Toren does a great job letting the reader follow his path from insanity (addiction) to surrender and sanity (sobriety).

The other half of the book was the bold honest diary of Toren, who we follow through happy drinking, problem drinking (getting kicked off campus, evicted from apartments, kicked off sports teams) binge drinking (finishing the beers other people leave, drinking tequila for breakfast and brunch etc), blacking out (finding letters from people that say "I brought you home, but I'm sure you don't remember me), and eventually having to leave his post with the Peace Corp.

His writing was my favorite part of the book.

For example, in explaining how addiction is a disease of insanity and denial, he relates the time he decided to quit smoking cigarettes:
During that week in Arizona, I managed to go through a generous supply of painkillers made available by a friend.  For the better part of seven days, I accompanied the painkillers with constant drinking, a few nights of heavy ecstasy dosing, and a bunch of cocaine to finish it all off. All the while I impressed myself by abstaining from smoking cigarettes. This made me feel in control.... but my nose was bloody, my mind was numb, my mouth was dry, my heart felt weak and my soul felt sick. (64)

After reading this book I am much more hesitant to have a glass of wine in front of my kids; I now see alcohol as a dangerous drug.

I definitely will not be giving this book back to my student -- I need to keep it as a resource.

Meanwhile, I could sure use a happy fun quick read after this very dense, important and powerful book. .