According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, about 16.6 million adults had an alcohol use disorder in 2013. To make matters worse, more than ten percent of children live in a household with at least one parent who struggles with alcoholism. And yet, for many people with this type of addiction, it is difficult for them or those around them to identify the problem.
Alcohol consumption is typically social. We tend to drink at birthdays, holidays, weddings, and other special events. We drink with coworkers at happy hour. Everywhere we turn, there are drinks. And because alcohol has been normalized, someone who is abusing it or has become dependent may slip through the cracks.
In Killing Mr. Hyde: Allowing God to Destroy What’s Destroying You, Michael Lassman shares his own story of alcohol use disorder through a Christian lens — including how easy it was for him to drink at social gatherings and how hard it was for him to overcome.
Lassman looks back to parts of his childhood that may help explain some of his adult behavior and alcoholism. He dissects his social relationships growing up and how those relationships may have contributed to his need for adoration, inclusion, and success. His parents, Lassman writes, both held somewhat high expectations for him — expectations he believes were responsible for his deep-seated need to fit in and be successful. This need drove Lassman to take on multiple business projects, he writes, and to pursue various business-related ideas at the expense of others.
And as he was pursuing those business ideas or traveling the country for work, he was desperately searching for the next drink.
The drink could be in a bar, in a liquor store, or during a business gathering or dinner. Many business trips and corporate parties, Lassman writes, offered some form of alcohol to celebrate. Even during a golfing event: alcohol. Not only did Lassman struggle to make a decent living and impress his family, but he also struggled with an addiction hidden behind a veneer of social drinking.
Lassman holds the reader’s interest as he explores multiple challenges throughout his adolescence, young adulthood, marriage, and social relationships. His book reads much like a timeline, with vivid examples of his emotional and psychological struggles. He recounts how difficult it was to live up to the expectations of his family, his wife, his business partners, and himself.
Alcohol addiction, Lassman writes, is very hard to overcome without the appropriate treatment tools. Eventually, he realized that the “appropriate treatment tools” for him were not a several-month-long rehabilitation program, a thirty-day detox center, or a spiritual resort for alcoholics, but a developing understanding of and relationship with God.
Lassman describes in great detail the scars he inflicted on those who loved him, those who trusted him, and those who needed him. He explains the depths of hell that he often visited when he was desperately in search of the next alcoholic beverage. He writes that his journey back to sobriety was often met with his own resistance, denial, hopelessness, depression, anxiety, and lack of commitment to change.
About the various programs he tried, Lassman writes, “the one thing I didn’t learn was that Narconon, AA, any 12-step-program, another person, or even I could relieve me of my alcoholism. Only God could and would if I were willing to seek Him. I wasn’t.”
He humbly admits throughout the book that he was stubborn, unbelieving, stuck, depressed, arrogant, and confused. He had never been the type of person to rely on religion during difficult times, he writes. He frequently found himself in a place of desperation to change, but could not set himself free, no matter what. The love and support of his wife, children, friends, and even business associates could not change him. He hit rock-bottom and nothing and no one could rescue him, until, eventually, his faith in God did.
Indeed, Lassman writes that he became so tired of relapsing, he decided to reach out to God for help: “Spirit, let me wake up and be different. I don’t want to be that person from the past. I want to be who God says I am and the person He designed me to be. I want to be the opposite of who I’ve been!”
As a therapist who subscribes to a Christian and faith-based approach to life, I enjoyed Lassman’s candid overview of his attempt to find stability in the midst of emotional and psychological chaos.
Unfortunately, some Christian readers might struggle with some of the profanity found in the book. Even more, some readers might also question the legitimacy or accuracy of the book due to a note at the beginning, which reads:
“Time, long periods of incoherency, and despondency have blurred some of my memories and I also realize that perceptions of history are sometimes recollected based on how we subconsciously need to piece together the past. The stories in this book are to the best of my knowledge true, but I stand to be corrected.”
That said, memoirs often contain similar notes, acknowledging that no one’s memory is completely accurate. And, perhaps a writer’s memory is even less accurate when he is recalling intoxicated moments.
Overall, however, Lassman has written an interesting book that can open the eyes of family members, friends, or even co-workers to someone who may be struggling with alcohol addiction. It is a book that therapists can recommend to their clients or their clients’ families if a Christian lens is appropriate. Fortunately, because it can be very difficult to identify when someone is becoming an alcoholic, we have authors like Lassman who can provide insight into the thought processes, emotional voids, challenges, heartbreaks, confusion, and resentment that the person and those around them experience.
Killing Mr. Hyde: Allowing God to Destroy What’s Destroying You
Yorkshire Publishing, June 2015
Paperback, 394 pages