Dec 21

Addiction Recovery Books: Three Timely Choices

Although substance abuse issues are always relevant, the holidays tend to bring out a heightened need for support and encouragement among those who are struggling. Following are three addiction recovery books to consider.

I. Stanton Peele and Ilse Thompson, Recover!: Stop Thinking Like an Addict and Reclaim Your Life with The PERFECT Program (2014)

In Recover! Dr. Peele’s PERFECT Program takes you through the key concepts of mindfulness–that is, your ability to detach from your addictive experience and to see that it is not who you are–combined with the Buddhist idea of loving kindness, or self-acceptance…

What does PERFECT stand for? I couldn’t find the whole breakdown, but “P” is for  “Pause” (vs. powerlessness), “E” for “Embrace” (of self and others), “R” for “Rediscover.”

Peele notes (Reason) that he and Thompson believe “sobriety is best built on having a purpose in life. Recovery means that you embrace a life of engagement and meaning; that you overcome your addiction in the service of your values, plans, and life goals. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you never take a sip of alcohol or any consciousness-altering substance again, ever.”

In Peele and Thompson’s world, addiction is not a disease, and 12-step programs don’t necessarily help toward addiction recovery. From a Psychology Today post by Peele, “AA can provide good support for people, or it can undermine them. You’ll have to be the judge of that for yourself. But these steps don’t represent a Buddhist path. They are rather a Western religious tradition of guilt, self-blame, and shame that we feel is a prod to addiction, and not a remedy.”

On identity: “You are not your addiction; you are a valuable human being whose qualities endure and exceed your addiction…It’s impossible to expect a person to achieve wellness by focusing on his or her faults and mistakes. Perhaps this is why conventional recovery asserts that people must remain ‘in recovery’ forever and continue to identify themselves as addicts, no matter how long they are sober.”

II. Erica Spiegelman, Rewired: A Bold New Approach To Addiction and Recovery (2015)

Regarding this second of addiction recovery books, therapist Spiegelman‘s website offers this:

With this plan, you won’t need any special knowledge or time in therapy to complete the process. There is no discussion of willpower or ‘my way or the highway’ directives.

Centered around the concept of self-actualization, Rewired presents a simple and common-sense recovery plan that is designed, tailored, and fitted to the uniqueness of every individual, regardless of his or her beliefs, background, or specific addiction.

Spiegelman describes the addiction recovery process as “a whole-soul makeover” involving six “brain-training principles”: authenticity, honesty, time management, self-care, healthy relationships, and gratitude.”

III. Neil Steinberg and Sara Bader, Out of the Wreck I Rise: A Literary Companion To Recovery (2016)

Just what it says it is, this book presents quotes about addiction recovery from such writers as Ernest Hemingway, Patti Smith, Raymond Carver, Jack London, Anais Nin, Stephen King, and Walt Whitman. Sources include fiction, letters, diaries and journals, notebooks, speeches, Twitter, and more.

Co-author Steinberg himself has read the book “50 times,” he told Mark Konkol, “I know I wrote it, but I find comfort in it all the time.”

Meg Nola, Foreword Reviews: “For Steinberg, crawling from the wreckage is personal. His recovery from alcoholism began over a decade ago. Such experience with and true knowledge of the lure of spirits lend depth to each chapter. Excuses, denials, relapses, and fear of an emotional and chemical dependency that can’t be overcome—these are classic patterns of addiction, just as seeking help and finding inner strength are patterns of recovery.”

“The advice,” states Nola, “is not sugar-coated—rehab is tough, and life after rehab can be tougher–but beyond the battle, promises the work, is a reclaimed world.”