Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism book review: Unwasted: My Lush Sobriety

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.

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