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Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Reading In Addiction Recovery

It doesn’t take long for people new to a program of recovery to figure out that they will be doing a lot of reading. Whether it’s reading educational handouts from treatment centers and therapists, or program-approved literature, much time is spent flipping through pages. At the end of the day, embarking upon a journey of recovery requires unlearning past behaviors through learning new modalities of being. How one thinks, acts, and sees the world in recovery should be completely different from one’s existence in active addiction; in order to accomplish the task of living for long-term recovery, people need to be committed to changing most things in their life. One way to achieve such goals is to learn from those who came before; you can mine a lot of valuable information from the experiences of others.

In recovery, you are not alone; together you can bring about a paradigm shift for the better. Those who attend meetings of recovery on the regular hear about what others do to say clean and sober; such people learn what works, and more importantly what doesn’t. The goal is to take valuable lessons from other peoples’ experiences and adapt them to suit your needs for leading a productive life.

Of course, you can’t always be in a meeting or on the phone with your sponsor or recovery mentor; after you have read through program-sanctioned literature, you will want to broaden your horizons before rereading those materials. Keeping your program fresh depends on finding insight from other sources; and, the good news is that many people have written on the subject of addiction and recovery.

Reading for Recovery

Two weeks from now marks the beginning of summer which means that some of you will have some time to travel or relax on the beach. You might find that this an excellent time to glean some insight from people in recovery who have written about leading a life in recovery. There is a lot to choose from, some things written by addicts and alcoholics, while others come from parents and experts in the field of addiction medicine.

Those of you in the earliest stages of recovery should exercise some caution when deciding what to read. As you can probably imagine, some books might include sections that are difficult to handle while you are still fragile. What’s more, you don’t want to read anything that might elicit cravings or worse, trigger a relapse. If you are thinking about reading something that delves into the subject of addiction, ask your support group beforehand; they may have some insight to impart to you about the book. On another note, books you read in early recovery do not have to deal with addiction, per se; you can always get a lot out for books that focus on overcoming hardship and the human quest for making sense of existence. Below you will find a few examples that might help you on the road of recovery:

The Precious Present (1984) by Spencer Johnson, M.D.: A short read, this book is perfect for people in recovery who struggle with focusing on the here and now. Staying present is a vital component of recovery, this book could prove invaluable to your program.

"The precious present has nothing to do with wishing. The richness of the precious present comes from its own source. The precious present is not something that someone gives you. It is something that you give to yourself." 

Man’s Search for Meaning (1946) by Viktor Frankl: Another short book with much to offer about overcoming adversity and finding a higher power. While the writing deals with the Holocaust and some of the horrors that made up that chapter of history, the text belongs to a list of the ten most influential books in the United States.

“What was really needed was a fundamental change in our attitude toward life. We had to learn ourselves and, furthermore, we had to teach the despairing men, that it did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us. We needed to stop asking about the meaning of life, and instead think of ourselves as those who were being questioned by life—daily and hourly. Our question must consist, not in talk and meditation, but in right action and in right conduct. Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual.” 

The Recovering: Intoxication and Its Aftermath (2018) by Leslie Jamison: This might be a book more for individuals who have been in the program for some time. Jamison’s book asks and answers some hard questions about getting clean and sober. Many people tell themselves that if they find recovery then they will have to sacrifice their art, Jamison begs to differ. Goodreads writes:

“With its deeply personal and seamless blend of memoir, cultural history, literary criticism, and journalistic reportage, The Recovering turns our understanding of the traditional addiction narrative on its head, demonstrating that the story of recovery can be every bit as electrifying as the train wreck itself. Leslie Jamison deftly excavates the stories we tell about addiction--both her own and others'--and examines what we want these stories to do, and what happens when they fail us.”


Addiction Treatment

The Haven at Pismo can help you or your loved one break the cycle of addiction and assist you in learning how to manage the symptoms of a co-occurring mental health disorder without resorting to self-medicating. Please contact us today to find out more information about our program.