Q: Was it difficult, or cathartic, for you to share your own experiences as a recovering alcoholic?
A: The writing process of this book was a healing experience for me, and it helped me to process and conceptualize my alcoholism on a deeper level. I was able to find meaning in the difficulties that I had been through and in knowing that I had the honor of being able to touch the lives of others through my writing.
Once the book was released, I faced many new challenges. For most of my sobriety, I have kept the fact that I am a sober alcoholic private because of the stigma—I feared that in certain areas of my life, people would judge me for being an alcoholic. In some ways, I had led a double life—going to work during the day and then participating in various aspects of recovery in the evenings and on weekends. So now, in sharing my story publicly, I am exposing myself. Although in the past this would have made me feel very vulnerable, I now feel a sense of pride in being sober. It is difficult to think that people may judge or view me differently after reading Understanding the High-Functioning Alcoholic . However, I have chosen to sacrifice my privacy in an effort to chip away at the stigma of alcoholism and to help other HFAs to connect with my story and hopefully pursue treatment.
It is my intention to increase awareness that being successful and being alcoholic are not mutually exclusive, but that HFAs need help regardless of their seeming exterior success. My intention is to help end the denial that so many HFAs and their loved ones have around their alcoholism, because these individuals are able to succeed in so many areas of their lives. Alcoholism does not discriminate, and it is imperative that the public learn that being alcoholic is not determined by how people's lives appears on the outside, but by what happens to those individuals when they drink alcohol. Finally, that I am able to express that HFAs need to get help for their alcoholism just as lower-functioning individuals should—for they all suffer from the same chronic, lifelong and potentially fatal disease.