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Her Best-Kept Secret: Inside the Private Lives of Women Who Drink

3.49  ·  Rating details ·  523 ratings  ·  74 reviews
In the first book to document that American women are drinking more often than ever, and in ever-larger quantities, journalist Gabrielle Glaser explores the reasons behind this hiding-in-plain-sight epidemic—and why the most common remedy for it, enrollment in AA, is particularly ineffective.

Gabrielle Glaser began noticing a shift in culture after the birth of her third c
ebook, 256 pages
Published July 2nd 2013 by Simon & Schuster
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Jenny Sullivan
Jul 16, 2013 rated it did not like it
Being a member of AA, I was very interested to read this book. I did enjoy much of the historical account of drinking, especially how it pertains to women. The marketing of wine to the American Housewife was hilarious. I see people posting about needing wine, or other booze, at the end of the day, to deal with kids, husbands, etc- and it is totally accepted. The fact that this author went to TEN meetings of AA is a ridiculously small amount to be writing about it as she did. 90 meetings in 90 da ...more
May 13, 2013 rated it did not like it
Read my full review:

My opinion: As a former addictions counselor who specialized in adolescent female addictions, I must be honest in stating that this is THE WORST book on special populations addictions I have ever read. It was much more of a 196 page drama central magazine article, AA bashing bonanza, and advertisement for an alternative treatment program, which in the way Ms. Glaser wrote about the program I had to wonder if she doesn't have an investment in the organiza
Joy Matteson
May 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
Ms. Glaser has done three years of research on the relationship between women and alcohol. She has interviewed multiple women for this book, and did extensive background research on Alcoholics Anonymous, and taken the time to gather many statistics on the effects of alcohol on women. I think many people know that alcohol can affect women much more quickly and detrimentally than men (which is unfair! Ugh.), but Ms. Glaser also tells you why this is the case.
I can tell many people will not like t
Jun 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Long overdue exposure of the revolving door con came that "rehab" is in the U.S. - especially for women. Also accurately reports on the failure of AA to protect women, as well as its terrible "success" rate for anyone.

Along with Fletcher's recent "Inside Rehab" it seems we're finally getting some accurate reporting on what actually works to offset 75 years of AA's mythology and failure.
Jul 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
First of all, we should all be thanking Gabrielle for this most important work. It's about time. For those of us who have been working for years to reveal the truth behind the lies of 12 step programs, this work is long overdue. Glaser's perspective comes from a journalistic viewpoint. She has no horse in the game other than the truth. The journalistic truth. The care for women. Hopefully, this will give steppers pause with their typical "you're killing alcoholics by turning them away from AA," ...more
Aug 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
Interesting history of how AA deals and.has dealt with women who have a drinking problem opposed to men. The double standard infiltrates every area of our lives. Trying to juggle careers, marriage, raising a family, keeping the household organized and the stressors of the world, many women, it seems, have turned to alcohol. Not all become alcoholics of course but it has become an issue in our society. Interesting read.
Sep 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ebook
This is a great book for an introduction. In other words, it does NOT get heavily into the science and the studies it references. You'll have to do that on your own if you want more detail, but unlike at least half of addictions books it DOES include those evidence-based references.

I've seen other reviews upset that the author "bashed" AA. Honestly, I don't think she did... she merely explained why some people don't find that the ideal solution AND explained, with citations, why. She never says
Cara Fox
Jul 24, 2013 rated it liked it
Came across this book and thought it would be an interesting read after a series of joking conversations with other mom friends about how we drink so much more since we became moms, or (for those of us who work) drink so much more on the days we are home with our kids. This was a quick and interesting read, although not what I expected going into it. It was a pretty thoroughly researched account of the history of alcohol and women - how attitudes and perceptions of women who drink have changed o ...more
Dec 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is an interesting study of how we treat alcoholism and women in this country. Women are drinking more than ever.That's good news/bad news. Good news is that women drink because they can, it's more socially acceptable, a good thing. Bad news is that their bodies can't handle it and out of control drinking is on the rise. The author makes the point that men's recovery (AA model) doesn't always work for women. Women are different from men, doh. 12 step approaches may not work.
There is a large
Aug 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I love books that push my envelope. Never questioning judges, courts, treatment advertisements; I thought faith based 12 step programs were the only options an abuser of alcohol had to find and maintain sobriety. Having to create some kind of higher power and give up oneself to that higher power was counterintuitive. Because of Glazer's impeccable research, a new world of recovery has become available to those living this nightmare all the while blaming themselves and suffering the guilt of bein ...more
Liz Shine
A smart, open-minded analysis of the psychology and history behind women and alcohol consumption in the United States. I found Glaser's approach informative and refreshing. Though I consider myself educated and informed, I have never come across a smart look at alcohol. I've always felt that the story we tell ourselves as a society about alcohol is too emotional, isolating and damning to many. A well-researched, thought-provoking book that raises important questions about the status quo.
Jun 30, 2013 rated it it was ok
AA isn't for everyone, but it works for a lot of people--including a lot of women (one of them being me). Also, it's everywhere, and unlike Glaser's pricey "Twenty-First Century treatment," it's absolutely free. More about the book and the issue in my piece for the Atlantic:
Dec 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
Initially I expected this book to be judgmental of women who drink, but on the contrary it was a very insightful examination on exactly that cultural bias. From the early advertisements to sell wine to women to the unwelcoming response they receive when seeking help, Her Best-Kept Secret covered the full range of the female perspective on alcohol consumption and abuse. As a woman who chooses to imbibe responsibly and in moderation, I was both shocked and fascinated by the reported indiscretions ...more
Dale Stonehouse
Jan 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a very important book as a stepping stone to fully exposing 12-step programs for what they have always been - an attempt to restore addicted people to making a contribution to a growing economy. More than that, it exposes the shabby treatment women receive too often in AA groups, up to and including sexual abuse and rape. Even absent this evidence, the traditional approach to substance abuse has never worked for those for whom trauma in childhood or as adults is the root cause and the ad ...more
Jan 02, 2015 rated it it was ok
Not a well written book. The author cites a lot of anecdotal evidence that women are drinking more, e.g. mentions that her friends, all of whom seem to be upper middle class Caucasian women, drink so much Chardonnay that they have to discard the bottles secretly.
Then, she denigrates AA, saying that too many men in the program take sexual advantage of new female members -- possibly true, but why not simply suggest AA groups specifically for women? Such groups do exist. Also, she recommends some
Tara Hun-Dorris
Jul 02, 2013 rated it liked it
This is a short, easy read. I like the author's general question of why we don't treat addiction with evidence-based approaches as we do other chronic diseases. However, I do not trust her use of numbers/data, and the research probably could have been more in-depth.
Rosie Hanneke
My attention waned toward later chapters and the (in my opinion) too-long discussion of A.A., but well done.
Alcoholism runs in my family. I've seen it take down more than a few of my relatives so, naturally, I was interested in what this book had to offer. And while I loved the book for what it was, I cannot in all good faith rate it at five stars because it is not what it promised.

What It Promised
This book's title bills it as a deep look at why women drink and a subsequent way that they can regain control. Now I'm not a drinker. I rarely imbibe anything mind or mood altering aside from my daily caff
Maggie Baisley
Nov 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Interesting summary of AA’s predominance in the field of substance use treatment. Kind of boring for the first few chapters, but really hit its stride in the second half of the book. Even though, as other reviewers stated, AA isn’t therapists’ only tool, it’s unclear why it remains a common tool given that it has no actual research backing and might serve to exacerbate shame in participants. The culture and fragility around AA seems problematic, and Glaser digs into the problem. Other reviewers ...more
Oct 27, 2017 rated it it was ok
I wanted to like this book and I really needed to like this book, but felt frustrated by American historical nature and the AA references. I desperately want to be Alcohol free and am reading up while my journey begins, but I misunderstood the intention of this book. There wasn't much written about the lives of women who drink. The author isn't a former drinker drawing on experience. I don't live in America and am not interested in the history, or people's gripes with AA. Disappointed.
Mege Gardner
Aug 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a very good survey on the history of American women in alcohol treatment and the culture that surrounded them. Entirely my fault, I wanted more detail on the success stories. Her main thesis that there is no "one size fits all" solution is well supported. We are lucky to be living in the future!!
Jan 23, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a well-researched book (twenty pages of end-notes!) that covers a lot of topics on the subject of drinking among upper-middle-class women in the US.

The underlying argument presented is that, due to social stigma dating back centuries, the problem of drinking among women is treated as more "shameful" than for men. And because of that, the treatment of alcoholism for women has not been properly addressed, with women being forced to shoehorn into techniques devised for men.

The author clear
Jul 22, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I originally checked out this book at the library thinking it might be a funny spin on why women drink, unfortunately, I was in for a (pleasant) surprise in that it actually dove into statistics of women drinking and AA.

Basically Her Best-Kept Secret...takes the reader on a journey from the early 20's to current time. Early on women were scorned if they touched alcohol. That if a man drank beer it was to relax after a long day working and macho, but if a woman drank beer she had a problem and wa
Jeannie Long
Mar 12, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an interesting study on the cultural history of women and alcohol and how the treatment of problem drinking has evolved over time. Did you know that in colonial days, people drank lots of beer because water was unsafe to drink?

I was one of the women who was interviewed by the author for this book. I agree that society puts high expectations on us to have careers, be good wives to our husbands, good mothers to our children, and good daughters to our aging parents. This pressure can lead t
Jul 22, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Many of you might not know this about me, but when I have a problem that I don’t know how to deal with my first response is to research it as in-depth as possible. That makes it a bit awkward when I blog about everything I read (this is my journal reading journal as much as it is your review site). At the same time it’s great because I get to share interesting books, like Her Best-Kept Secret, that I never would have read. And I force myself to explore and synthesize in-depth a lot of topics.

Tipsy Lit
Apr 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Right out the gate I need to make a confession. When I was approached for this assignment I thought it was an adult contemporary novel which is my genre of choice. Happily I agreed to review a novel called, “Her Best Kept Secret” by author Gabrielle Glaser. Imagine my surprise when the book showed up and the full tile was, “Her Best Kept Secret – Why Women Drink – And How They Can Regain Control. This story provides endless entertainment for my girlfriends who know I love my wine and write eroti ...more
A micro-history.
Aug 29, 2013 rated it liked it
This book starts off as "Lean In" with a glass of wine. I was most interested in this first quarter which discusses why women's drinking is becoming so common. It discusses the history of women's association with alcohol (fascinating!) and continues to discuss societal pressures on women today, i.e. especially those charged with full child-rearing responsibilities and those trying vainly to balance work-and-home, and how these pressures compare to those of yesteryear (leading them to drink). Thi ...more
Feb 12, 2017 rated it liked it
an easy read, mostly about the patriarchal and sordid history of AA. all that info was kind
of slow...some good info about women's drinking, the why + science, but not much.
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from Goodreads Giveaways in exchange for posting my honest review.

Her Best-Kept Secret wasn’t what I thought it would be. I made it through the first three chapters and then decided not to finish reading the book. From what I did read, I felt that the author is presenting the history of alcohol and Americans, citing many statistics along the way, with an emphasis on what she feels is proof of a steady rise in alcohol consumption by American women o
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Gabrielle Glaser is the best-selling author of Her Best Kept Secret: Why Women Drink and How They Can Regain Control.

Glaser grew up in Tangent, Oregon, the Grass Seed Capital of the World (pop. 440). She spent her teenage summers driving John Deere combines on her family farm, listening to an unusual mix of local radio programming: the BeeGees, Marvin Gaye, Johnny Cash, and NPR. She was an indiff