Thousands Succeed in Overcoming Their Drinking Problem With an Alcohol Recovery Book Many Felt Would Fail

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Roberta Jewell's book, My Way Out, and the alcohol recovery program it describes, celebrates its one year anniversary on March 28, 2006. Remarkably, thousands of individuals from all over the world have embraced this therapy in the short time it has been available. It was developed by an ex-problem drinker who was told by industry experts she'd have little success in publishing her story. Her program incorporates specific nutritional supplements, hypnotherapy, medication and exercise. Support during recovery is also emphasized and the publisher's company provides a free web based discussion board and online chat services.

March 28 marks the one-year anniversary of Roberta Jewell’s stunningly successful “My Way Out”, a self-help book describing an innovative program for problem drinkers—a book that conventional publishers wrote off long before it ever hit the press.

“It’s true,” says, Jewell, whose 153-page text often outranks other books in its genre on Amazon each week. “The first literary agent I pitched it to told me I knew nothing about publishing and less about business. She suggested I consider writing a magazine article instead.”

Jewell jokes that she’s thought about sending the agent her book with a thank you note and a copy of the two Newsweek Magazine pieces in which it’s been featured, along with a clipping from the Wall Street Journal, where it was also mentioned this year.

As far as business goes, the company who now represents her has branded her nutritional products and says sales are doubling every other month. Their research and support website, http://www.mywayout.org, gets nearly 6,000 hits a day and is the highest traffic online support forum of its type. It boasts over half a million page views so far. Finishing touches are now being made on a “My Way Out” infomercial and a new corporate website under development will include a blog with podcasts and interviews featuring addiction researchers, doctors and nutrition experts say company reps.

So why all the buzz when most new authors’ books sit quietly in shrink wrapped storage?

Jewell, who still uses her pen name to protect her family’s privacy, says the problem she suffered for many years is exceedingly pervasive. And it strikes those who are often most reluctant to seek help.

“To be honest, I never wanted to tell anyone about my problem and I certainly never aspired to write a book about it,” she says. “But I felt pretty driven to share this information once I learned more. For instance, there are four problem drinkers for every hard core alcoholic. That is a staggering statistic. And I had become one of those statistics. Here I was, a highly functional problem drinker; an executive, and like a lot of other professionals, I wasn’t comfortable with AA and I didn’t want to go into treatment. But my drinking was draining the life out of me. It was also draining me of my self respect.”

Jewell was recognized by her peers as a proficient researcher and had helped a number of friends and family members over the years with their health problems. Yet she had been incapable of finding a solution to her addiction. She says she had self-experimented for years with several facets of the program she ultimately developed, such as amino acid therapy and herbal remedies. She was also prescribed a medication in the early 90s which was purported to block the desire to drink. But the effects were short lived and it was not the magic bullet she’d hoped.

The catalyst came in two unlikely events which occurred about the same time. A British medical journal published a 2003 study announcing success with a new anti-craving medication. It piqued Jewell’s interest and she raised the topic among friends at a dinner party soon afterwards. It led to a lively conversation about clinical hypnotherapy and its application to addiction. The seed was planted and after follow up research, Jewell added medication and traditional hypnotherapy to the existing program she had now refined, which included specialized nutritional supplements and light exercise. For the first time, a blended therapeutic approach—much like that available to diabetics or coronary heart disease patients—would be applied to addiction.

The program worked. Jewell found herself released from her alcohol craving almost immediately. She quietly began sharing her therapy with others and found they experienced similar results. She quickly broadened her program, partnering with an MD and addiction specialist who now serves as medical director of the My Way Out program. Then came the book. Jewell continues to provide research and online support and works closely in all facets of product development.

As the 12-week program gains popularity, an increasing number of patients have begun approaching their family physicians about it. While optional, many of them wish to incorporate the prescription medication, often Topamax or Campral, and soon the injectable Naltrexone will become available. The program itself is easily administered. The first six weeks involves a specific regimen of nutritional supplements to address withdrawal and craving. A 30 day system of self-hypnosis recordings, done at home, helps with behavior modification. And a light exercise program improves mood and can prevent relapse.

Support—critical to recovery—is strongly endorsed. My Way Out’s web stats bear out the popularity of anonymous online fellowship where, ironically, members share their most private moments about the shame they felt while drinking. Over 10,000 archived messages can be viewed, free of charge, by anyone with web access. They’re posted by both ‘veterans’ and ‘newbies’ alike. Visitors check in regularly from all corners of the globe, issuing calls for help, sobriety status reports or simple messages of camaraderie. The group is fiercely loyal in their support of one another.

Jewell is a bit overwhelmed by it all. “It’s been the most incredible year,” she says. “I never, ever would have imagined it. I only set out to save myself. So to see this response, to know that this has touched a chord with thousands of people is really rather remarkable. I have to say it is the most gratifying feeling. There are just no words for it, really.”

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Kellie Hyder
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