Sacha Z. Scoblic’s book Unwasted: My Lush Sobriety is a compelling read for
anybody contemplating sobriety, questioning their drinking habits, or the casual reader
who identifies or struggles with any kind of habitual self-defeating behavior.
The book is a first person account of Scoblic’s initial journey “white knuckling it”
through the hinterlands of sobriety. A self-proclaimed “wild chick”, Scoblic has, up until
this point, managed to live a productive life as both a writer for The New Republic and
Reader’s Digest by day, respectively, while regularly drinking to immense proportions by
night (and, by her own account, sometimes well into the morning hours). If you have
questioned your drinking habits at all, the author’s initial duality and blithe existence
may resonate: first person accounts like Scoblic’s can either feel like cautionary tales or
wake up calls – or both. Either way, the author’s denial of her problem and subsequent
resolution shed light on habitual abuse and its concurrent coping/ denial mechanisms.
The book’s premise focuses less on the horrors of the author’s alcohol abuse,
however (suggested, sure enough, by the title), although it contains enough anecdotal
material to back her up when she proclaims herself to be an alcoholic on page 19. What
makes the read most intriguing, unlike many other recovery books, is Scoblic’s growing
reverence for her newly formed sober life and self. “Unwasted” refers to what exists
when self-defeating behavior is abandoned in favor of an examined life.
My Lush Sobriety is organized chronologically and each chapter is punctuated by
a fantasy in which the author imagines herself (successfully) through a potential relapse
situation. More than anything, these scenes reinforce the genuine dedication to drink that
the recovering alcoholic faces. Snapshots depicting the fantasy of drinking again
complete with urgent world leaders forcing her to throw back vodka in the name of world
peace as well as a cameo appearance by Hunter S. Thompson are followed by passages in
which the author affirms her sobriety. Refuting what these fantasy scenes encapsulate
punctuates the essence of the book: a life un-wasted is what lies on the other side of
denial, despair and self-aggrandizement. The examined life, albeit one rife with
complications — in Scoblic’s case, one complete with AA meetings, sponsors, misaligned
friends and tricky social situations — is one rich with opportunity once one navigates the
murky waters of sobriety.