A Woman Like You: Life Stories of Women Recovering From Alcoholism and Addiction by Rachel V. (Harper & Row: $15.95).
Nineteen women, recovering from alcoholism, contribute candid testimonials to this thoughtful anthology. Each explores onsetting causes and the progression of events, until she reaches her eventual Alcoholics Anonymous-assisted cure.
For all their widely divergent backgrounds and experiences, each woman reveals some primal hurt or trauma. Gail R., "born with a platinum spoon in my mouth," gave up her baby for adoption, then turned to drink as an "answer to all that pain." Harriet B., a Chippewa Indian, renounced her race when she was sent away to boarding school and couldn't come to terms with two conflicting worlds.
Whether addiction is a result of psychological damage or is genetically engendered--a theory that attempts to explain a possible "alcoholic personality"--women handle alcohol differently than men. They often become cross-addicted (tranquilizers plus alcohol) because their problem is misdiagnosed as depression. "A Woman Like You" has a first-rate introduction and a concluding "12 Steps of Alcoholism" section.