“Drink” – by Ann Dowsett Johnston – Book Review


Image Credit: Thomas Martinsen


I contemplated never drinking again after reading “Drink” by Ann Dowsett Johnston.

This book is eye opening. Disturbing. Confusing. And important.

Consider this: women, as a whole, are better educated than ever. They continue to make great strides in the workplace. They fight for their rights. They make big differences in their communities.

Why, then, are women increasingly abusing alcohol?

“Drink” is a book that aims to answer this question.

The primary story is about Johnston herself. She is a highly educated, high achieving, award winning journalist, public speaker, and former McGill university vice-principal.

A successful women who has endured (and recovered from) her own heartbreaking problem. With alcohol.

Johnston’s brave story of alcohol abuse, deeply moving and uncomfortable, is bolstered by superb research findings into the general scope, depth and range of women’s health and addiction problems.

Young women, for example, commonly start ‘binge drinking’ as early as college and university. Women at any age struggle with mental health issues that can quickly lead to alcohol dependence. Some women continue to drink even while pregnant.

But it appears that ‘high achieving’ women are the ones increasingly at risk for problem and risky drinking.

“Drinking can be seen as a relief from perfection,” Johnston says, in an interview from 2013. The idea that, “I have to be perfect at home, I have to be perfect in all these roles, and I’m just going to drink to ease the pressure.”

Where’s the evidence of female-based drinking? Just visit your local liquor store. Look at the growing number of alcohol products marketed specifically for women. Products that range from Skinny Girl margaritas and Girls’ Night Out flavoured wines, to sweet, fruity coolers, all aimed to suit a woman’s palate.

The liquor store is now an appealing destination for women. This wasn’t always so.

“You can see the very, very clear intention on the part of [liquor stores] to turn their stores into a place where women feel enormously comfortable,” says Johnston.

But so what if women enjoy a few drinks for the sake of unwinding? After all, men have long used alcohol as a respite from work and life stress.

The concern is that women become victims of alcohol addiction much more quickly than men. From alcohol they can also experience specific and serious health issues that men do not.

Through Johnston’s in depth research, and her own story, the trend towards female alcohol abuse becomes obvious.

I recommend “Drink” to anyone concerned about problem or risky drinking. I recommend this book if you are a man who cares about a woman who drinks a bit too much. I recommend it to women who strive to “have it all”, but feel stressed and overwhelmed. I recommend this book to anyone concerned about their habits and their health.

The rise of problem drinking for women warrants serious consideration.

With “Drink”, Ann Dowsett Johnston starts this important conversation.



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This entry was posted on Friday, September 22nd, 2017 at 11:59 pm and is filed under Posts. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

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