Looking for a book that might change your life? In this Alcohol Explained review, I discuss one that truly changed mine.
I’m aware how hyperbolic that may sound, but it’s no exaggeration.
I read Alcohol Explained when I’d just embarked on taking a month away from drinking alcohol. To my surprise, that month off was easier than I’d ever expected.
The initial month turned into two, then three, including a holiday when I didn’t drink and didn’t miss it. Before I knew it, it was four months, and then I found myself thoroughly enjoying an alcohol-free Christmas and new year. At the time of writing, I’m about to enter month six, and have no desire to return to drinking.
I’ve written a separate article on the benefits of quitting drinking. If you’re considering a temporary or permanent step back from booze, I’d recommend taking a look. In this Alcohol Explained review, we look at the book that I truly think made it all possible.
What Is Alcohol Explained?
Alcohol Explained is a book by William Porter. The author struggled with problematic drinking himself, so set out to unearth the science around how alcohol works and why people get so addicted to it.
Alcohol Explained fits firmly into the category of “Quit Lit,” a genre of books around sobriety and abstinence that’s exploded in popularity in recent years.
I should make clear that I’ve read a LOT of quit lit. Some of it was informative and kind of useful. But given I didn’t actually stop drinking until I read Alcohol Explained, I can hardly say that any of it worked!
At one end of the scale there are the preachy and bossy books that almost make you want to crack open a bottle of wine in defiance. At the other, there are lots of well-intentioned books that never sat right with me. In fact, some really irritated me.
I’m referring to books written by people of immense privilege who had seemingly limitless support and resources to help them quit. There was one in particular that grated on me, and it’s probably for the best that I don’t remember the title!
I recall listening to the audiobook becoming increasingly annoyed by the self-indulgent “struggles” of somebody who was able to repeatedly drop all of her responsibilities and disappear abroad or run off to a palatial family home each time she’d partied too hard. I appreciate that this probably sounds more than a little unsympathetic!
But my point is that I wanted to read a book that actually spoke to ME. And I found that in Alcohol Explained.
Alcohol Explained Review: What You Learn
Alcohol Explained keeps everything scientific and matter-of-fact. It eschews the Alcoholics Anonymous approach of encouraging total abstinence and putting everything in the hands of a “higher power.”
Instead, it teaches you the facts about alcohol and how it affects the body and mind, and leaves you to decide for yourself. The book blows apart myths, teaches you about how alcohol is marketed, and makes you question everything you thought you knew about the world’s most accepted and ubiquitous drug. And that’s a very important thing: it IS nothing other than a drug.
Since reading Alcohol Explained, and recommending it to many people, the thing I’ve said at least 100 times is that “it teaches you stuff you can never unlearn.”
It’s almost like being brainwashed, but not in a bad way! I’m talking about a brainwash that rinses away misconceptions that have been baked into your thinking since a young, formative age.
Once you understand all the different ways alcohol affects the body, it ceases to feel like a source of mystical pleasure and relaxation. Since reading Alcohol Explained, I don’t abstain from alcohol because I’ve learned strategies to will-power myself out of temptation. I choose not to drink it because I don’t WANT to.
Who is Alcohol Explained FOR?
I’d recommend Alcohol Explained to anybody with questions about their relationship with alcohol.
It’s a great, and potentially game-changing read if:
- You’re sure you’re misusing alcohol.
- You’re “sober curious” and wondering about cutting back.
- You have a tendency to struggle to stop each time you start.
- You’re embarking on a detox or an initiative like Dry January or Stoptober.
Why No Spoilers?
I’ve intentionally kept this Alcohol Explained review “spoiler free.” This isn’t because there’s some big secret to the content within. It’s more that if I tried to distil the science down to sound-bites it would be too easy to dismiss each of many “knowledge bombs” in the book.
For example, I’ve lost count of the books and websites that tried to convince me that alcohol doesn’t actually taste good. I was a big wine drinker and utterly convinced that things like cheese, shellfish and lasagne couldn’t possibly be at their best without the perfect pairing.
This is covered in Alcohol Explained, but in a way that carefully explains the science, marketing and psychological conditioning that gave me such a deep-seated belief. I won’t pretend I didn’t experience temptation and cravings when I ate all those things sans-booze after reading the book. But, as I’ve said, you can’t unlearn the science. Alcohol Explained has helped me de-couple all of those associations more effortlessly that I ever thought would be possible.
There are few books I’m evangelical about, but this is one with genuine power to help you make a fundamental change in your life. Imagine choosing not to drink because you WANT to, not because you think you SHOULD.
That’s what Alcohol Explained did for me. Perhaps it will do the same for you.