A Drug and Alcohol Counselor’s Suggestions for Understanding Addiction
1) Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs by Johann Hari
I was first exposed to the work of author Johann Hari in his TedTalk titled “Everything You Think You Know about Addiction is Wrong” and was intrigued by his presentation. As it turns out, his talk generated from his exploration and research, which culminated in this book about addiction, “Chasing the Scream.” In it, Hari looks for answers to the causes of, and treatment for, addiction. In terms of ‘treatment’, Mr. Hari broadens the view from individualized and therapeutic treatment as I know it (and believe in it) and to the socio-political aspects of how we treat addicts. Filled with both anecdotal and research evidence, this is a thought-provoking read on how we view and treat those fighting drug and alcohol use and addiction.
2) Clean: Overcoming Addiction and Ending America’s Greatest Tragedy by David Sheff
This author may sound familiar as he previously penned the well-received book about addiction, “Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Addiction.” In “Clean”, Sheff explores why we use drugs and alcohol and explains the progression of addiction and then details methods for getting and staying clean. In doing so, Sheff explores very specific issues such as co-occurring disorders, medication, and 12 Step (specifically AA). The outcome is a well informed and comprehensive look at individualized and program interventions as he walks the reader through the problem and into the solution of addiction.
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3) Beyond Addiction: How Science and Kindness Help People Change (A Guide for Families) by Foote, Wilkens, Kosanke, with Higgs
I’ve been working with families of those struggling with addiction for some time and they often have had questions for me that I often feel I haven’t adequately answered. Herein “Beyond Addiction”, I’ve found help. This book about addiction contains material specific for the family (including a list of “Things You Can Change and various worksheets) as well as information on what is addiction and what motivates people to change. Finally, when a family member asks if I can recommend a book about addiction for them to read- I have the answer.
4) Recovery: Freedom From Our Addictions by Russell Brand
There are many well-known autobiography books about addiction which help interested individuals learn what it (addiction in it’s active and destructive form) is. This book is not one of those books. It is neither an autobiography (per se) or about active addiction. “Recovery: Freedom From our Addictions” is this comedian/actor’s perspective of recovery as he walks the reader through his interpretation of the 12 steps. What stands out to me most of all in suggesting this book is that I’ve had several patients’s come into the session with this book and share their thoughts in reading it. I find it a useful tool in 12 step facilitation, and it is a lesson for individuals striving to understand the 12 steps that it is up to each one of us to develop our own understanding and deep personalization (whether emotional or comical) of the process.
5) The Big Book and The Basic Text (aka Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous)
I was going to lead with these books about addiction, but it seemed too obvious. These texts, titled by the names of their given fellowships, are must reads for individuals who identify as alcoholics and/or addicts. I also highly recommend them for anyone impacted by substance use. A blog, especially part of a blog, is truly insufficient space for an exploration of the insight and offerings found within the Big Book and the Basic Text. If you read either of these books and feel like they were written for you, then you might have a problem and you have found help.
Author: Jonathan Blauvelt, MA – Footprints to Recovery – Clinical Supervisor