Book Review: The Alcoholic Family in Recovery: A Developmental Model

Published date01 September 2005
Date01 September 2005
Subject MatterArticles
exist that require rereading—“deconstructions”—to determine meanings. This is not in any
way meant to be a criticism of the authors. Language will always get in the way and muddle
the best efforts of intellectuals, evenwhen the topic under discussion focuses on communica-
tion. Having said that, what Arrigo, Milovanovic, and Schehr have accomplished with this
book is to simplify and reduce many of the complexities of modernity, postmodernity, chaos
theory, and other forms of nonlinear reasoning, rendering them understandable for the aver-
age reader. This achievement alone is nothing short of remarkable, making it a strongly rec-
ommended supplementary text to be used in upper level undergraduate and graduate
criminology courses.
Michael J. Bolton
Marymount University
The Alcoholic Family in Recovery: A Developmental Model, by Stephanie Brown and Vir-
ginia Lewis. New York: Guilford, 1999. 318 pp.
DOI: 10.1177/0734016805282754
This user-friendly text is a valuable addition to the area of research on the multi-
dimensionality of alcoholism. The authors, two clinicians/researchers, present a psychologi-
cal view of “what happens to the entire family, as a system, when one or both parents stop
drinking.” The purpose of the book is to address “recovery from alcoholism for the whole
family” from a systems perspective and the book’s content stems from the practice of these
two clinicians as well as the void in the literature in dealing with the family system in
The text is divided into four sections, which add to the understanding of the process of nor-
mal recovery. Part 1 discusses the research foundation for the book’s information and pro-
vides definitions of terms and descriptions of the usefulness of availableservices for alcohol -
ics. Part 2, which I found the most informative, shares the stories of the families who
participated in the research. Family functioning and factors that affect this functioning are
explored in part 3. The final section, part 4, provides further information about the “develop-
mental model of recovery.
The research foundation of the text is based on volunteer families who are clients of the
Family Recovery Project in California. There were 52 predominately Caucasian families
who participated in the research, which included audiotaped and/or videotaped 3-hour inter-
views, five tests of individual and family functioning, and demographic questions about
themselves and their families. In addition, three couples were followed long term. Finally,
couples who participated in the MAPS (maintaining abstinence programs) were assessed
long term as well. The triangulation of data presents a thorough understanding about recov-
ery in the context of a family system.
Central to the developmental recovery model, highlighted in the final section of the book,
is the concept that the “drinking family” is unhealthy and “restrictive, rigid, and closed.” For
the family system to change and move into recovery, the whole system “must collapse” so
that the structure of pathology these families experience can be changed. Thus, the steps to
recovery, which are drinking, transition (family system collapse), early recovery, and ongo-
Book Reviews 223

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