Updated: Jan 17
“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” – Benjamin Franklin
Knowing that you have a drinking problem doesn't necessarily mean acting on it. It took me a long time - five years - from realization to quitting. During that period and beyond, I read countless memoirs and self-help books, some specific to recovery and others that gave me ideas to incorporate into my holistic approach. These are a selection of the books that I feel were the most helpful and are still on my bookshelf. I revisit them whenever I need a boost.
I discovered this book while in New York City at Christmastime and I believe the year was 2015. That’s nearly four years before I quit drinking. I was in the contemplation stage of change and deep down I knew I would quit one day. This book gave me the hope that I could be empowered and started me seriously considering the path of mindfulness as not only a recovery technique but as an alternative to attempting escapism with alcohol.
Ms. Fletcher has amassed a book which has a variety of views on sobriety from people who quit drinking using vastly different methods from one another. This book shows you that there is not one tried and true method for recovery but instead encourages you to choose what works for you.
This is a popular book in psychology circles. My therapist was delighted that I was reading it. The book contains a straightforward approach to questioning your automatic thought process. Like everything else, thinking becomes habit. Dr. Burns lists ten popular cognitive distortions and guides you on how to break through them.
When I first picked up this book, I was elated to find that someone was finally going to tell me how to control my drinking. As I got further into the book, I realized that there was more to the book than that. I won’t spoil it for you as I highly recommend this book. Another book to read along these lines is This Naked Mind by Annie Grace.
I came across this book on my search for happiness, a constant fear nagging me that I couldn't be happy without alcohol (not true). An easy read about how to hardwire happiness using the principle of neuroplasticity; I took Mr. Hansen's ideas a bit further. Neuro-plasticity has to do with the brain’s ability to rewire itself, deleting and adding neural connections as needed. I rewired my brain in order to hardwire sobriety and used a variety of methods. You can read about them here.
The first book I read about neuroplasticity and the power to rewire the brain. Each person has unlimited potential to learn and grow if we can get a handle on our thoughts and beliefs. This book gave me hope that I would be able to learn new coping skills, change my thinking patterns and break out of my drinking problem.
Kristen Neff has written a masterpiece on the power of self-compassion. Within this book she will answer all of the questions that you have about being kind to yourself and provide you the tools to do so. One of my main fears of self-compassion was that I would be too kind and become complacent. Dr. Neff beautifully addresses that fear and many others in this easy to read handbook on the power of showing yourself loving kindness.
Dr. Jaffe discusses the myth that a person has to be completely abstinent before they can start to work on the underlying issues driving their addiction. Although I am happier now that I am sober and find it easier to manage my emotions and solve problems, I have mentioned before that I started my work towards sobriety long before I quit drinking. I believe Dr. Jaffe has some good points in his book about the several different factors contributing to addiction and how to work through individualized issues.
Ms. Duckworth has conducted studies on the power of passion and perseverance. I was astounded to find that natural talent isn’t really the predictor of success, but it is instead determination and persistence (grit) that will separate those who complete challenges from those who do not. Grit is actually a predictor of success. When all else fails I turn to determination and perseverance to keep my sobriety on track.
Dan Harris had a panic attack on national live television and as a result he produced an entertaining and enlightening book. This book was truly an enjoyable read. Mr. Harris takes us along on his journey as he breaks down his biases against meditation and discovers the key to becoming 10% happier.
After the first few pages of this book, I had a strong desire not to read any further but one area I am working on is acceptance of ideas with which I don't necessarily agree. Dr. Mohammed believes in the disease theory of addiction and his platform is touting medical treatment for addiction. Although I do not embrace the disease theory, a number of his points coincide with my belief that use of drugs and alcohol over time rewires our brains to make us crave them. Dr. Mohammed also outlines the negative effects of drugs and alcohol and goes further to give evidence of why alcohol is the most dangerous drug of all.