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Books reviewed by Lenna Buissink, Trilogy Board member and parent

A Sensitive, Passionate Man by Barbara Mahoney 

A chilling, heart-wrenching true story about a woman who tried EVERYTHING to get her husband to stop drinking.  She watched this disease ravage her family and, in the end, all she could do was watch him die.  This book takes you from the good days through the hopeful days and on into the hopeless days.  Well-written, emotional and well worth reading.

Addict in the Family by Beverly Conyers

This is an honest and forthright picture of the struggles faced by a woman dealing with her daughter's addiction. Ms Conyers deals with the unusual topic of being addicted to the addict's behavior--a condition many of us experience but few of us recognize.  She also spends more time than most authors dealing with the hurdles of denial.   Mentioning denial when first confronted with the addiction is common, but she keeps pointing out denial all along the continuum of the addiction as well as the recovery.

Addiction -- based on the HBO Series

Got a question about addiction?  The answer is in this book somewhere.  Any reader would be hard-put to get to the end of this book and say "They forgot to mention_______ about addiction."  From the first use and what started happening to the brain, to years and years of sobriety each step is explained.  The changes in the brain helps makes sense of this disease as does the deep understanding of the mechanics of addiction.  Explained in a forthright, understandable way, the reader will find himself closing the book and saying :"I think I get least better than I did before."

I can see this book being a sort of encyclopedia used as a research tool for anyone dealing with addiction at any level.

Alcoholism Myths and Realities by Doug Thorburn. 

Stop accepting the myths and misunderstandings about alcoholism.  Read about the truths and explode those myths.  118 myths exposed for the untruths they are.  Here is an opportunity to read the myths we have all accepted and discover the truth.

Beautiful Boy by David Sheff

A heartbreaking chronicle of life as the parent of a drug addict.  This book takes the reader on a journey that starts with a child’s beginning drug use to relapse to recovery to relapse until the author finally says: “I simply can’t do this anymore.  I need to take care of ME.” This book allows the reader to step back and realize how sick a loved one’s addiction can make a whole family.

Brain Rules by John Medina. 

Change your life by reading this book.  Things you thought were true about your brain probably aren't.  Fascinating, good read, and you will never think the same.

Broken by William Cope Moyers and Katherine Ketcham

The roller coaster that is addiction and recovery and relapse is revealed in this book.  William's story can break your heart, offer hope, and educate you about how baffling and sneaky addiction can be.  Because this story is told by the addict, it offers a different view of an addicted brain.

Carrie and Me by Carol Burnett,  Great book, fast read.  Pages 15-35 report accurately all the feelings, mutterings, and devastation a family suffers when a loved one is deep into addiction.  It took Carrie 2 tries at rehab, but the resultant relationship is heart-warming.  The denial, final realization of a problem, the helplessness, the seeking help, the hope, the disappointment, the learning the hard way, and the eventual relief are all there.

Drinking: A Love Story by Carolyn Knapp

Any alcoholic can identify with most of this book.  An incredibly honest look at the path the author's life took and her increasing dissatisfaction with her alcoholic life and her out-of -control drinking.  The reader can sense the struggle to control the drinking but the run-away train of alcoholism keeps taking control (see the third full paragraph on page 230 for a wonderful description of this struggle).  The desperation of trying to break free is very strongly presented.

Eating Right to Live Sober by Katherine Ketcham and J. Ann Mueller M.D.

A surprisingly quick read with lots of good nutritional information for both alcoholics and their families and non-alcoholics.  The suggested reading list at the end has some great references.

How to Spot Hidden Alcoholics by Doug Thorburn

So many of the behaviors listed in this book apply to people who use other drugs as well.  Easy- to-read, down to earth, and full of common sense, this book offers a rare look into the alcoholic mind and how to pinpoint and identify alcoholic behavior.  Discover how alcoholic minds think.

I'll Quit Tomorrow by Vernon E. Johnson 

This is a very thorough book which details how and when to perform an intervention. Practical steps will help guide the reader up to and through an intervention.  One of the strengths of this book is the author has considered many different scenarios and possibilities regarding alcoholic behavior leaving few gaps for unsuspecting interveners.

No More Letting Go by Debra Jay. 

Have your pencil ready and be prepared to underline.  This book shows a true understanding of addiction and its behaviors.  It also has an incredibly thorough, eye-opening section on intervention.

Recovering My Kid by Joseph Lee

Asked and answered.  Every time your mind says "Yeah, but..." while reading this book, just keep reading.  Dr. Lee covers so many components of adolescent recovery that the answer to your question is in there.  Organized in a very logical way with wonderful explanations, this book is most readable.  Never talking down to the reader and offering a look at recovery from enough different sides that the reader is sure to find new and insightful information.

Shame and Guilt by Ernest Kurtz

This book was written for professionals.  It has some GREAT stuff in it.  Finally a book which explains the difference between shame and guilt!  Now that I understand it, addicts' actions and reactions are so much clearer as are some of the hurdles addicts face in recovery.  As a person in recovery, it helped me a lot in understanding some of the feelings I have had for years and couldn't identify.This is a good book for in-depth study of the difference between shame and guilt.  It also has some insightful comments about how AA deals with both issues in two different ways.

Teens Under the Influence by Katherine Ketcham and Nicholas Pace

A must-read for any person touched by addiction or alcoholism.  Discover the signs of addiction and what to look for in addictive behaviors and these behaviors become undeniable which gives parents the chance to act before it is too late.  This book educates the reader on many, many issues surrounding addiction and allows parents to identify their own denial and teaches them how to move on to the next step.

Terry by George McGovern. 

A warm, loving documentation of the senseless death of a prominent public figure's daughter to alcoholism. Surely a painful book to write, but the details and chronology of Terry's disease are laid out in these pages.  The helplessness, the unimaginable pain, the constant fear only to have that fear realized in the end is hard to read but impossible to put down.

Tweak by Nic Sheff

A story of addiction, recovery, relapse, recovery, relapse and the hopeless cycle of addiction.    A stunning glimpse of relapse and the insidious, sneaky, unexpected, blind-siding nature of relapse.  A heart-wrenching view of addiction from the view of an addict—the helplessness, the hopelessness, the consuming nature of the disease, and the eroding of self-respect and self-esteem.

The following books may be helpful for older adults and/or family members who struggle with substance use issues:

Turnabout: New Help for the Woman Alcoholic by Jean Kirkpatrick PhD. 

Women often think of themselves as failures because they are alcoholics.  This book helps women find their strengths and learn a new way to view themselves.  This is not a "You can do it" book but a "look what you can do and be" book and it helps a woman find that path.  Inspirational without being soupy.

Under the Influence by James Milam and Katherine Ketcham. 

This book offers information on alcoholism and really is helpful in preparing a person touched by alcoholism to know what to look for, what to prepare for, and what alcoholism is all about.  It also has a good section on recovery and how to get started.

. . . and more reviews to come



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