One of the most important messages we can teach to both addiction recovery patients and the loved ones that make up their support network are that they are not alone. Addictive disorders with co-occurring mental health issues often result in increased feelings of isolation and depression, and one of the most effective ways to combat those feelings of loneliness is through reading both non-fiction and fictional accounts about addictive disorders. Achieving and maintaining long-term sobriety is rife with potholes and hiccups from struggling with impulse control to recognizing unavoidable potential triggers in your daily routine. Reading accounts to learn from those who have experienced addiction recovery can be of great comfort and assistance, helping to guide you along the path to recovery. Below we have listed some of the best books on addiction to give you hope and potentially help you on your path toward recovery.
Non-Fiction Historical/Factual Account
“Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company that Addicted America”
by: Beth Macy
Beth Macy’s account of the recent opioid epidemic digs deep into the history and personal accounts of the Appalachian area of the country, an area she believes is at the root of America’s opioid epidemic. She traces the current rise in prescription pain pill addiction and increases in heroin use to Purdue Pharma which released OxyContin in 1996 claiming preposterously that its pain medication was less addictive than other opioids on the market. Fast forward to today, and just last year, there were 72,000 overdose deaths due to opioid pills or heroin use. Aside from providing an eye-opening account of the history of this current problem, Macy places many human faces to the epidemic drawing on socio-political contexts that shaped the opioid crisis in her efforts to explain and fumble for any form of a better solution through an understanding of the past. Macy uses her experience as a reporter to shed some light on the recent opioid crisis as she interviews those closest to the opioid epidemic including active opioid users, suffering families, the medical community, and a convicted heroin dealer. For anyone who has been touched by the opioid epidemic or even addiction in general, this is a great starting point to understanding the depths and causes of the opioid and addiction problem in American.
“Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Addiction”
by: David Sheff
A bestselling book that has now been made into a movie, this refreshing account is actually from the perspective of the father of a child who has an addictive disorder. David Sheff’s memoir deals with his attempts and struggles with helping his son seek treatment and maintain long-term sobriety. The memoir details his son’s chronic relapses as he attempts to achieve extended bouts of sobriety – the longest lasting a year-, but for the most part, this book is about the father’s journey of acceptance. He struggles, as most family members will, to accept what Al-Anon refers to as the ‘three Cs” — you did not cause it, you cannot control it, and you cannot cure it. This memoir can be of particular comfort to any family members or individuals who have suffered the same fate as Sheff when addiction has begun to rule a child’s life. The most important takeaway for us about Sheff’s account is the realism he brings to the struggle with trying to help his son, a struggle that is fraught with many failures and little victories. He ends with the hope that his son’s latest bout of sobriety will hold, but the unending struggle against a constant threat of relapse brings some necessary humanity and realism to a story that can oftentimes be an over-sensationalized account of addiction when told from the wrong perspective.
“Imagine Me Gone”
by: Adam Haslett
Adam Haslett’s brilliant depiction of mental illness and substance misuse made this a New York Times bestseller as well as earning it a spot on the short-list for the National Book Award and the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. The fictional account details in vivid, Faulkner-esque style the lives of a family dealing with the consequences of a mentally ill father and son. Each chapter is told from the first-person perspective as Haslett puts you right in the middle of the whirlwind of life with mental illness. He thoroughly explores the struggles of mental illness through the depiction of its inherited properties, its alarming effects on the individual, and how the surrounding family and loved ones must cope as well. The first-person accounts will ring disturbingly true to anyone who has dealt with mental illness, be it personally or with a family member or loved one. Although not for the faint of heart — a slight trigger warning as the account does contain some graphic drug and alcohol misuse — the story brings empathy and some form of kinship to the very isolating disease of addiction and co-occurring mental illness.
Affiliated Self Help
Although in serious need of an update — some sexist diatribes still exist in recent additions —, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) has been one of the most celebrated guides to addiction recovery since 1939. The book does contain the template for the 12-step program to addiction recovery detailing how to practice effective addiction recovery treatment on your own time. However, where much of this book’s strengths come into play is in the hundreds of personal accounts that the text offers of people struggling with addiction. If you are going through a problem in your addiction recovery process, someone else has probably dealt with it before you, and you will probably read about it in the Big Book. The text not only provides literal examples of how to recover from addiction, but it also serves as a beacon of hope allowing those with addictive disorders to feel a sense of community, a much-needed salve from a disease that at its core isolates so many.
This book is a great beginner’s guide for those individuals who do not respond to the traditional 12-step methods of addiction recovery treatment, “Recovery Dharma” is a non-Christian self-help practice guide that utilizes the four noble truths of Buddhism as a foundation for addiction recovery. The text does an admirable job of taking the complex truths of Buddhism and placing them in the understandable context of addiction recovery. The truths explained in the text involve our suffering and our unsuccessful attempts to appease that suffering which often results in addiction. The concepts of Buddhism are much more nuanced than this short book can explore, but it serves as a set of training wheels to get you riding along on the path to recovery through meditation and Buddhist practice. “Recovery Dharma” provides an insightful and genuine approach to a community-based recovery process with meditation and Buddhism as its central core.
“Thoughts Without a Thinker: Psychotherapy from a Buddhist Perspective”
By Mark Epstein
From renowned psychiatrist Mark Epstein, “Thoughts Without A Thinker ” deals with the psychological issues of trauma and mental illness as viewed through the lens of a Buddhist perspective. The book uniquely explores methods of exploring Buddhist practices of mindfulness in combination with modern psychiatry. Epstein does not waste time suggesting one practice is better than the other; rather, he expounds on how the two approaches of both Western and Eastern medicine can be melded into one practice to treat mental health issues. Throughout, Epstein does not dumb down his language or topic of conversation, and some psychological concepts explored may be a reach for the casual reader. This is contrasted, though, by his sharing of actual cases and patient examples which help to shed light on the inner workings of the mind as well as how we can begin to cope with trauma and mental illness. The text details how meditation — in his opinion — is best for bringing an overall awareness of psychological problems while therapy is needed to delve into that trauma or mental illness to resolve any lingering issues and heal.
If you or someone you love needs treatment for an addictive disorder with co-occurring mental health issues, then Choice House has the dual-diagnosis addiction treatment program that can help. We offer men the opportunity to achieve as well as learn to maintain sobriety as they rebuild a new foundation based on love, empathy, and understanding. Our treatment program utilizes a variety of therapeutic modalities to help patients understand both the behavioral and psychological effects of substance misuse and addictive disorders. These treatment services are offered through a 90-day inpatient program, an intensive outpatient service, and the chance to take up residency at our sober living campus. Located in the Boulder County, Colorado area, the Rocky Mountain National Park is at our doorstep, and we take full advantage of the beautiful national park by offering a unique outdoor wilderness therapy. In our outdoor therapy modality, men are allowed the opportunity to reconnect with themselves, fellow addiction recovery patients, and nature through physical activities like hiking, rock climbing, and kayaking. Not only are we a short walk to the Rocky Mountains, but our facilities are also just a twenty-minute drive from the bustling city of Louisville. This proximity to city life proves beneficial for those participating in our outpatient services as it allows them to maintain employment and keep active social lives while still under the guidance and supervision of Choice House staff. For more information about Choice House facilities or programs of service, please give us a call at (720) 577-4422.