Dr. Jeff Herten’s book, The Sobering Truth, is a valuable and necessary addition to the thoughtful person’s library. Too often in today’s world, the perils of alcohol are overlooked, sneered at or dismissed.

We are bombarded with the glossy, manufactured image of the drinker surrounded by alluring members of the opposite sex, expensive or exotic locales or deliriously happy sports fans. The message is clear: consume our product and you, too, can have all this.

And, too often, the public buys into this image. What adult wouldn’t want to achieve all those unfulfilled pipe dreams hidden away since adolescence? These false illusions disguise the deadly aftermath of the consumption of booze.

Binge drinking among college students has reached epidemic proportions, with several deaths by alcohol poisoning reported in the media. Ask those who live near off-campus housing or the local police about the problem.

Carefully, logically and in clear language Dr. Herten explains the insidious effects of alcohol on the human body–all of it. He relates the specific damage that occurs when the functions of particular organs are attacked and eroded by liquor. Carefully avoiding impossible-to-pronounce medical terms, he presents a compelling case for the need for everyone to recognize these dangers.

Jeff Herten brings two-fold expertise to the book:  He is a highly respected dermatologist, dermatopathologist and medical school professor; and a former high-functioning alcoholic. His story of slipping into the hazy area of addiction is compelling and the reader can easily see danger hidden in the socially acceptable, even desirable, lure of the casual cocktail or beer.

Herten never whines, but rather presents in an honest and straightforward manner the sequence of his casual drinking that led to the recognition of his problem. The reader clearly understands how his condition was hidden from colleagues, family and self. Alcoholism, he says, often lies hidden, and always is the subject of fierce denial.

Dr. Herten not only presents the perils of drinking, but presents a path to recovery. His easy-to-read book, The Sobering Truth, provides invaluable knowledge. It is an honest, courageous and well-written book.

Mary Moses, author of The Mill and The Family

The author, Dr. Jeff Herten, writes The Sobering Truth from two main perspectives. The first is based upon his own experience as a functioning alcoholic. The second is based upon his experience and knowledge as a medical doctor. The amount of medical information that he provides about the damage that alcohol causes to our bodies is incredible. I have a Master of Science degree in Rehabilitation Counseling and I learned more in this book about the physiologically damaging effects of alcohol than I did during my entire program. The alcohol industry does a lot to make alcohol appear benign, but really it is a dangerous poison for our bodies.

His experience as a functioning alcoholic is scary. He indicates that there are a lot more functioning alcoholics operating in our community than we realize. These people might be medical doctors or corporate leaders. They are in positions that put us at risk. He also notes that a functioning alcoholic can easily switch into a non-functioning alcoholic role. I personally witnessed this when the President of a community hospital system in central California made the transition from being an administrator into being a homeless vagrant.

In addition to sharing his own personal experience with alcoholism, Herten also writes about other peoples experiences. It is really sad how many lives have been damaged and destroyed from addiction to this substance. Alcoholism doesn’t just affect the abusers life, but also the lives of those around him. These people include spouses, children, employees, and innocent bystanders. It is really an insidious problem.

The information that I gained from reading this book really opened my eyes about an intervention that I needed to do with a functioning alcoholic that is close to me. If I carry this knowledge in me, and don’t tell this person what I learned about the health problems that he has coming his way, then I continue to enable him. At 4:30am, after I caught him finishing up a Bloody Mary, I started talking about how his health problems and weight problems are being contributed to by the incredible amount of alcohol that he is consuming. Unfortunately, the response that I got was a question about what alcohol has fewer calories. I will keep referring to this book for more information to help me wake him up. He needs to realize that if you are grossly obese and can see your liver, you have a problem.

The Sobering Truth should be read by alcoholics, their families, substance abuse counselors, doctors, future parents, and students. I can’t imagine anyone that would not benefit from this book, except cultures that do not drink. A person in denial would definitely have a harder time staying in denial after reading this story. A functioning alcoholic is a person that drinks frequently, yet still seems to have a good life. It is easier for a functioning alcoholic to be in denial, than non-functioning alcoholic. After they read this book, it won’t be so easy.

I have struggled with the question of whether I have had a drinking problem for the past several years, and if so, to what extent. After all, I don’t wake up in the morning and reach for a hair of the dog that bit me. I’ve never missed work, never been stopped for drinking and driving (although that was sheer luck at times), and never beat up on my wife or kids in a drunken rage. The problem is, we have all been fed this extreme portrait of what makes an alcoholic, and it makes it all to easy for many of us to deny that we have a problem. Deep down inside, though, we know that we are addicted to our daily dose of liquor - no matter how small, or whether it comes in the seemingly inoccuous form of beer, wine, or the hard stuff. Then again, there are so many reports that come out every so often, touting the benefits of having just the right amount of booze on a daily basis. Here’s the real skinny: THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A HEALTHY AMOUNT OF BOOZE ON A DAILY BASIS!!!

The truth is, there are many of us who aren’t necessarily born to be hard wired drunks, but we fall into a daily drinking habit through learned social patterns. It sneaks up on us, and our inner voices deceive us when we try to stop. This book is refreshing, because it talks to those of us in this boat, and I was certainly one of them. For fourteen years, I hardly ever went a day without drinking several glasses of wine, at a bare minimum. I woke up nearly every day hung over to at least a certain extent, but found myself reaching for a drink again the minute I got home from work. I’ve successfully held a job all these years, but very little otherwise got accomplished in my life.

The bare honest truth is, alcohol diminishes the human spirit. There are some of us who can function better while drunk or intoxicated than others, but we all eventually succumb to its effects - and usually recognize it only when it’s too late.

By exposing this truth and helping me to see the symptoms of my own addiction, this book has convinced me to get sober. It’s been nearly 3 months since I’ve had a drink. I wake up feeling the best I have in years, and I’m a hundred percent sharper and more productive at work. I’m more engaged with my kids, and I stay up late at night getting things done at home that I never would have imagined doing before. Like the author, I haven’t yet attended an AA meeting. I’m not sure that AA is for everyone, although I can relate to those who feel that they need to go there for support and guidance. For me, reading this book was enough. I guess I’m an “uncommon drunk” myself.

I can’t recommend this book highly enough.