Guest blog by Ted Perkins, Facilitator and “Tips & Tools Guy”
Successful recovery from any addiction is a holistic process that involves not just SMART Recovery meetings, but also social support from friends and loved ones, perhaps professional mental health support, and self-guided learning. A great way to learn about your addiction and successful recovery in general, is to read through SMART Recovery’s free on line resources and Toolbox exercises, watch our excellent YouTube videos, purchase our Handbook, and also read books.
Whereas in past decades the number of books available for purchase about addiction were less prevalent, today the publishing industry’s Addiction & Recovery genre is a thriving marketplace that features hundreds of helpful books to inform, entertain, motivate, and inspire anyone on their recovery journey.
Here is my list of the “Top-5 Books That Helped Me Recover” and a brief explanation of why I found the book useful and informative.
BRAIN BUGS: How the Brain’s Flaws Shape Our Lives by Dean Buonamano
Addiction happens in the external world of course, but it’s also manifested in our brains. Addiction is a feedback loop that has gotten out of control. The more we understand the way our own brains can sabotage our “common sense” or “willpower”, the more we may be able to push back and make better decisions. This book analyzes many of the cognitive biases at work in our brains, and how so much of our decision making is guided by neurological algorithms that run without us even consciously knowing about them.
MEMOIRS OF AN ADDICTED BRAIN: A Neuroscientist Examines his Former Life on Drugs
by Marc Lewis, PhD.
Not only is this a page-turner, it’s a fantastic look at addiction told through the lens of someone who not only lived it, but then went on to study it. Lewis has been featured in several TedTalks, and I had the good fortune of interviewing him for a video I produced about addiction several years ago. Part gritty memoir, part science paper, this book is a highly progressive, modern look at addiction not as a disease, but as a treatable behavioral disorder.
IN THE REALM OF HUNGRY GHOSTS by Gabor Mate, M.D.
Mate’s book is considered a must-read in many addiction and recovery communities. He addresses addiction by relating the experiences of several people whom he has treated throughout the years, both successfully and unsuccessfully. The book helps us realize that when it comes to recovery, no one size fits all, and while the mechanics of addiction are identical at a neurological level, each addiction is treatable in different ways.
THIS NAKED MIND by Annie Grace
Grace self-published her book as a way to help process her recovery from an alcohol addiction, never realizing that her manuscript would be picked up by a major publisher and turned into a best-seller. It’s easy to see why. Grace’s stories of her own relationship to alcohol are highly relatable, and the way she approached the solution to her addiction is inspirational. Fans of the book often say “that was me” as she describes her battle with booze.
THE HEART OF ADDICTION: A New Approach to Understanding and Managing Alcoholism and Other Addictive Behaviors by Lance Dodes, M.D.
Why do people repeat behaviors that are clearly problematic? What is it about us humans that drives us towards quick rewards at the cost of long term consequences? Dodes explores these and many other topics from the point of view of both a clinician and a psychologist who helps us better understand the role that emotions play in addiction. He also successfully debunks several myths about addiction and argues for a more open-minded approach to treatment based on hard science, less stigma, and more progressive methodologies besides total abstinence or allowing people to hit rock bottom.
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Melody Beattie’s “The Language of Letting Go” is my absolute favorite recovery book. My mother purchased this book in the self-help section of a local bookstore in 1999 and it is now with me. It is now in the inspirational genre and is widely available. On my bookshelf, it has withstood the test of time.
Thank you for the recommendation.