Addiction in Your Family: Three Helpful Books

You can’t make someone want to change, but you can help him realize that he wants to change, and help reduce his need to defend his current behavior, which can get him stuck there. You’ll be in a position to do this if you stay con­nected. You won’t if you detach. Beyond Addiction

Indeed, the concept of detachment is not necessarily supposed to be about disconnection (see previous post “Detach With Love”: The Why, The How, The Meaning). It’s actually more about taking care of oneself while trying to remain connected.

Featured below are additional quotes from best-selling books about dealing with a loved one’s addiction:

I. Clean: Overcoming Addiction and Ending America’s Greatest Tragedy (2013) by David Sheff   

Addiction medicine isn’t an exact science, and it’s still a relatively new one.

Once and for all, people must understand that addiction is a disease. It’s critical if we’re going to effectively prevent and treat addiction. Accepting that addiction is an illness will transform our approach to public policy, research, insurance, and criminality; it will change how we feel about addicts, and how they feel about themselves. There’s another essential reason why we must understand that addiction is an illness and not just bad behavior: We punish bad behavior. We treat illness.

The main problems with America’s addiction-treatment system stem from its roots in the archaic notion that addiction is a choice, not a disease. One common symptom of the disease of addiction is relapse. Kicking an addict out of treatment for relapsing is like kicking a cancer patient out of treatment when a tumor metastasizes.

II. Beyond Addiction: How Science and Kindness Help People Change (2014) by Jeffrey Foote, Carrie Wilkens, Nicole Kosanke, Stephanie Higgs

The dopamine system can and does recover, starting as soon as we stop flooding it. But it takes time, and in the time between shutting off the artificial supply of dopamine and the brain’s rebuilding its natural resources, people tend to feel worse (before they feel better). On a deep, instinctual level, their brains are telling them that by stopping using, something is missing; something is wrong. This is a huge factor in relapse, despite good intentions and effort to change. Knowing this can help you and your loved one make it across this gap in brain reward systems.

…(A)pproaches that treat substance abuse like any other behavioral problem are significantly more effective than confrontational approaches aimed to challenge a person’s denial about their disease.

Substance problems are complex and multidetermined, often driven by underlying psychiatric disorders such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or attention deficit disorders that require specialized attention over and beyond just treating the substance problem. In other words, good treatment often includes psychiatric care, which has historically been overlooked or even discouraged in some drug and alcohol treatment settings.

III. Unbroken Brain: A Revolutionary New Way of Understanding Addiction (2016) by Maia Szalavitz

…(A)ddiction is a developmental disorder—a problem involving timing and learning, more similar to autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and dyslexia than it is to mumps or cancer.

Our brains are embodied—much of the problem with the debate over addiction and psychiatry more generally is a refusal to accept this and our ongoing need to see “physical,” “neurological,” and “psychological” as completely distinct.

Anything you can associate with achieving a drug high, you will. As a result, when you try to quit, everything from a spoon (you could use it to prepare drugs) to a street (this is where the dealer lives!) to stress (when I feel like this, I need drugs) can come to drive craving. Desire fuels learning, whether it is normal learning or the pathological “overlearning” that occurs in addiction. You learn what interests you with ease because desire motivates. In contrast, it’s far more difficult to learn something you don’t want to understand or care to comprehend.

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