Sometimes we are asked what are the best books on drug/alcohol addiction we recommend to clients? Can these books be separated into categories for recovering addicts and family members? Our short answer is, yes! For our long answer, keep reading… Books, movies, music and various art forms can do wonders to inform what we know about addiction and recovery. When counseling clients, we will frequently cite excerpts and recommend reading from books that present a particularly insightful or influential point of view. In recent years, a growing number of famous figures have authored books about their battles with addiction – seeking to help others who struggle to learn from their experience. Authors who successfully transition from addiction to long-term recovery often serve to inspire readers who identify with them. The best books on addiction teach us about the commonalities of the disease and the fact that a great number of people ultimately do recover. Here are list of five addiction and recovery books we’ve been referencing and recommending lately.
- Rewired: A Bold New Approach To Addiction and Recovery by Erica Spiegelman
Considered to be one of the best addiction recovery books in recent history, author Erica Spiegelman’s lays out a path to recovery that is empowering and easy to follow. As the title infers, Rewired is about thinking differently about living clean and embracing recovery. The book presents healthy recovery as the result of living in accordance to twelve time-honored powerful principles, including honesty, evolution, solitude, love, compassion and hope. Erica Spiegelman is a well-respected addiction counselor, author and speaker who has had her own struggles with alcoholism and addiction. She promotes a holistic approach to healthy recovery that goes well beyond abstaining from drugs and alcohol. The smart reality of her book is that the attitudes and beliefs that accompany addiction are what fuels the disease. Change your focus and healthy choices that rejuvenate body, mind and spirit are bound to follow. The book includes action-oriented, positive affirmations and intentions to help you do so.
- Scar Tissue by Anthony Kiedis & Larry Sloman
Of books about heroin use, none is rawer than this bravely told memoir about the life of Red Hot Chili Peppers frontman Anthony Kiedis. Published in 2004, Scar Tissue holds immense value for as a cautionary tale for anyone prone to glamourizing drug use, especially heroin use. The book does a terrific job at taking the reader through the depths of sadness and despair that accompany heroin addiction. With the book, the reader sees not only how much one can lose to drugs – such as Anthony Kiedis’s loss of best friend and bandmate Hillel Slovak to overdose – but also how intense the hold of addiction can remain after the loss of a loved one. While the book may prove insightful about addiction, the authenticity of the addictive drug experience makes this a book that we would not recommend to someone in treatment or early recovery, as the content could be triggering, as well as depressing.
- The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brene Brown
According to Futures Case Manager Katie Dalo, this is a book every person on the planet should read a minimum of 10 times. As Katie describes the book, “it’s about radical acceptance, that you are perfectly imperfect and it’s o-freakin-k!” Researcher Brene Brown has become immensely popular over the past handful of years, due in large part to her excellent TED Talks about vulnerability and shame. The Gifts of Imperfection is about evaluating ourselves and seeing that we are bombarded with “messages from society and the media telling us who, what, and how we should be.” These messages help to inform how we perceive ourselves, and feed the feelings of inadequacy that live beneath the surface for a great number of people who struggle with substance use disorder. Just as so many of the best books on alcoholism and drug addiction teach us about living well in general, this book is so profound in its universal message of recovery that it translates beautifully for people recovering from the disease of addiction.
- Codependent No More: How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself by Melody Beattie
For the past three decades, Codependent No More has been one of the best books for families of recovering alcoholics and drug addicts. This book is a helpful guide for everyone whose life has been strongly affected by the disease of addiction. Filled with exercises and self-tests, the book is immensely helpful for the individual who has lost himself or herself in the continuous story of a loved one’s addictive behavior. Codependent No More offers practical advice for regaining one’s individuality. So often in drawn out battles of substance abuse, family members fall into familiar rhythms of place an imbalance of energy – for better or worse – into the addicted loved one. Codependency is dangerous for healthy treatment and addiction recovery practices, so we’re grateful for this liberating book.
- Spirit Junkie by Gabrielle Bernstein
The most prominent message of Spirit Junkie is that of self-love, though it is delivered in a way that makes it both accessible and non-corny. This book echoes much of what we teach about mindfulness, asking the reader to observe thoughts and distinguish between positive and negative messages. Gabrielle Bernstein conveys the life-altering power that comes from gaining a better understanding of the mind and being able to choose a healthy response. Spirit Junkie can benefit the individual recovering from addiction to reconnect with a sense of hopefulness, gratitude and compassion – tools for productive recovery practice. As demonstrated by Gabrielle Bernstein’s explanation of “love,” recovery should come from a place of peace and joy. She is adept at making the intangible just a bit easier to grasp. In doing so, transformative practices appear as simple, logical steps.
These are but five of hundreds of good books about drugs, alcoholism, and recovery that are available to help people heal at their own pace. However, for those still at the beginning stages of recovery, sometimes books aren’t enough. If you or someone you know someone is struggling with addiction and ready for help, contact Futures Recovery Healthcare today.