Addiction – It’s not a dirty word. Let’s talk about it. Let’s learn about it. Let’s de-stigmatize it. Let’s understand and empathize with the person who struggles with it. Let’s put a face to it so that when we see it, we do not see just an issue but a whole person that was created and is loved by a wonderful God.
Addiction, in form of substance abuse, has increased substantially during the year since COVID began.
According to SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration https://www.samhsa.gov/adult-drug-use), drug use in ages 18-25 is the highest; however, use among ages 26-49 has risen. Our country remains in a prescription and illicit opioid crisis with 81,230 overdose deaths occurring since May 2020.
How are we going to get this number down if we cannot even talk about what is driving this number?
Addiction is a chronic condition that affects the majority of society. Chances are you have struggled with an addiction or someone you love has struggled with addiction.
Gasp! Who? Me? No! I’ve never touched a drug in my life!
Addiction does not just involve drugs and alcohol; it is also behavioral. You can be addicted to sex, pornography, gambling, shopping, work, working out, people, people-pleasing, volunteering, etc. The list goes on. Once addiction is not better or worse than another, although you will see this hierarchy of drug use used often in our society.
My goal as a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor is to provide useful information that can help the individuals struggling to make an informed and educated decision on whether they want to enter recovery. I also want to help those who love someone struggling understand addiction and that this is not a black and white issue and there are no easy paths, magic solutions, or even magic pills that will cure it. I often said, “If there was a magic pill that would solve this issue or cure it, an addict would take 10!” (Just some recovery humor, don’t take it too seriously)
In counseling, I often use books with my clients because I believe in education. I believe that there is power in knowledge, there is power in information, and there is power in wisdom.
I started reading addiction memoirs in college when I was earning my bachelor’s degree, and well before admitting that I had issues. I have been mesmerized by addiction and codependency since I was a young teen. I would spend hours in Barnes and Noble looking through books in the self-help section, trying to find some sort of answer to the things I was struggling with.
My own counselor recommended Boundaries by Dr. Cloud and Dr. Townsend and reading that book literally saved my life. I recommend it to every single client I see because I know every word in the book is helpful.
I have fallen in love with many books about addiction and have been in recovery for many years, and working as a counselor, I do get asked to recommend books about addiction.
Here is a list of some of my favorites. Not all of these books are faith-based or written by Christians, but they are inspiring and raw. They tell the truth from the perspective of the writer, meaning that this was the life they lived and how they clawed their way out. I pray that these stories can help another person out there struggling as they have helped and inspired me.
1. Drinking: A Love Story
By Caroline Knapp
Fifteen million Americans a year are plagued with alcoholism. Five million of them are women. Many of them, like Caroline Knapp, started in their early teens and began to use alcohol as “liquid armor,” a way to protect themselves against the difficult realities of life. In this extraordinarily candid and revealing memoir, Knapp offers important insights not only about alcoholism, but about life itself and how we learn to cope with it.
It was love at first sight. The beads of moisture on a chilled bottle. The way the glasses clinked and the conversation flowed. Then it became obsession. The way she hid her bottles behind her lover’s refrigerator. The way she slipped from the dinner table to the bathroom, from work to the bar. And then, like so many love stories, it fell apart. Drinking is Caroline Kapp’s harrowing chronicle of her twenty-year love affair with alcohol.
Caroline had her first drink at fourteen. She drank through her yeras at an Ivy League college, and through an award-winning career as an editor and columnist. Publicly she was a dutiful daughter, a sophisticated professional. Privately she was drinking herself into oblivion. This startlingly honest memoir lays bare the secrecy, family myths, and destructive relationships that go hand in hand with drinking. And it is, above all, a love story for our times—full of passion and heartbreak, betrayal and desire—a triumph over the pain and deception that mark an alcoholic life.
2. From Dope to Hope
By Tim Ryan
Addiction and heroin abuse didn’t make Tim Ryan a better person, but recovery has redeemed his years. Substance abuse of heroin and alcohol stole more than half his life. But he has dedicated every waking minute since walking out of prison to dealing hope to addicts and their families.
As the founder of A Man in Recovery Foundation and motivational speaker, Tim’s mission is to help one addict at a time transform their lives from dope to hope.
This story chronicles Tim’s grueling journey into addiction, loss, and recovery. Sit with Tim in his prison cell. Walk with him as loved ones are torn from his reach. Rejoice with him as lives are miraculously recovered.
3. Rewired: A Bold New Approach to Addiction and Recovery
By Erica Spiegelman
Rewired is a new, breakthrough approach to fighting addiction and self-damaging behavior by acknowledging our personal power to bring ourselves back from the brink. Centered on the concept of self-actualization, Rewired will guide you towards not only physical sobriety, but a mental, emotional, and spiritual sobriety by learning to identify key principles within yourself, including authenticity, honesty, gratitude, and understanding a need for solitude.
Rewired addresses the whole self; just as addiction affects every part of one’s life, so too must its treatment. By helping us to build a healthy space to support our own recovery, we can rewrite the negative behaviors that result in addiction. Usable in conjunction with or in place of 12-step programs, Rewired allows for a more holistic approach, helping to create a personalized treatment plan that is right for you.
Each section in Rewired includes:
• Personal anecdotes from the author’s own struggles with alcoholism and addiction
• Inspiring true success stories of patients overcoming their addictions
• Questions to engage you into finding what is missing from your recovery
• Positive affirmations and intentions to guide and motivate
4. Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Meth Addiction
By David Sheff
What had happened to my beautiful boy? To our family? What did I do wrong? Those are the wrenching questions that haunted David Sheff’s journey through his son Nic’s addiction to drugs and tentative steps toward recovery. Before Nic became addicted to crystal meth, he was a charming boy, joyous and funny, a varsity athlete and honor student adored by his two younger siblings. After meth, he was a trembling wraith who lied, stole, and lived on the streets. David Sheff traces the first warning signs: the denial, the three a.m. phone calls—is it Nic? the police? the hospital? His preoccupation with Nic became an addiction in itself. But as a journalist, he instinctively researched every treatment that might save his son. And he refused to give up on Nic.
5. Unwanted: How Sexual Brokenness Reveals Our Way to Healing
By Jay Stringer
Many of us feel ashamed and undesirable after years of sexual brokenness and addiction. The guilt and stigma surrounding sexual struggles can paralyze us and keep us from seeking help and healing. Author Jay Stringer approaches these sensitive subjects with gentleness and understanding.
Based on original research from over 3,800 men and women, Unwanted is a groundbreaking resource that explores the “why” behind self-destructive sexual choices in order to help readers work towards freedom. Addressing difficult issues with compassionate insight, this book discusses:
- Abandonment and broken relationships
- Trauma and sexual abuse
- The sex industry and pornography
- Violence against women
- Learning to love and care for yourself
- Healthy conflict and repair in your relationships
- Investing in community
- Creating healthy boundaries
A perfect resource for those seeking self-help or those working to minister to the sexually broken people around them, Unwanted offers life-changing, practical guidance rooted in clinical evidence to light the way on a path to wholeness.