"Between Breaths" is a scary account of how Elizabeth Vargas allowed sobriety to slip through her fingers, again and again.
In the process she was on the brink of losing her television career. The network finally had had it with her relapses.
Her husband found companionship elsewhere and divorced her.
Her two sons were emotionally scarred, as most children of alcoholics are.
And she could have died from alcohol poisoning.
Of all the memoirs on the struggle with booze, this one might be the most helpful to lawyers. That now-famous study by the American Bar Association and the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation found that not only is problem drinking prevalent among lawyers. Also, 19% of them suffer from anxiety.
In her book, Vargas zeroes in on and keeps returning to her underlying condition of severe anxiety. It started when she was a young child and her military father was assigned to Viet Nam. Somehow, with the exception of one on-air meltdown in Chicago, she had managed to keep it under wraps in her high-profile career.
Most of the layman material out there on alcoholism tends to deal with clinical depression. Now lawyers who are saddled with anxiety can look at their disease through Vargas' detailed experience.
As one psychiatrist in Michigan informed me, for many alcoholics there is a threefold syndrome:
- Inability to consume alcohol safely. That is, there's no telling what might happen.
- A major psychiatric disorder.
- Panic attacks.
The psychiatrist wrapped up the tutorial with asking me when my last anxiety attack had been. That was the first time any one in the medical community had posed that question. I was 40 years old. Sober for years. And, like Vargas, had made anxiety my secret.
After therapists convinced Vargas to embrace her anxiety she has been able to hold on to sobriety.
"Between Breaths" could be a breakthrough read for lawyers who keep relapsing. Its overall contribution to insight about the cluster of dysfunctions alcoholism represents is being recognized. On Amazon there are 478 reader reviews. The book ranks 6,217.
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