I have had cause to do a fair amount of reading about addiction and alcoholism as my family is walking the path towards recovery. As a service to others--here is a reading list of literature that I have found most helpful.

Addicted to the Monkey Mind by JF Benoist

Subtitle: Change the programming that sabotages your life

As a person with a very intrusive monkey that uses my brain as its home base, not to mention that it has never had a kind thing to say. I often wonder what I have done to generate such hatred--we live in the same mind wouldn't it be nicer to be friends? Why is necessary to tell me the same old tales of woe? Isn't 20,000 times more than enough?

I am fascinated by the relatively new discovery of the Default Mode Network (DMN) as it is helping me to understand what meditation is working to achieve, as well as some way to relate to notion of a "higher power" as I try to get a grasp on ALANON. I have also spent some time reading about addiction and how it derails the Dopamine (reward) network. So I was hoping this book would help light a candle at both ends so to speak. But, unfortunately,  while the lessons are actually pretty spot on I couldn't past the chatty, self congratulating style of the writing. Look at me, look at me, look at how much I helped these people. 

While I did finish this book--I think it is better for now for me stay away from books that I read in the hopes that I can "fix" my adult child's addiction issues. I need to reconfigure my thoughts about worry and the desire to "fix" things into things that genuinely give a more appropriate form of empathatic support.



How Al-Anon Works for Families & Friends of Alcoholics by Al-Anon Family Groups

This year (2023) I abdicated my crown. I stepped down from my throne as the Queen of Denial. Plan and simple: My son is an alcoholic. As I write this today he is sober- a journey now measured in months not just days. He has found help staying sober in AA. I have been doing a lot of reading about addiction this year. As my son and his sponsor are taking a long slow journey through the pages the Alcoholic Anonymous "Big Blue Book", I, too, have taken a long slow read through the Al-Anon version of this Twelve Step Program.

We will both take our own paths on this journey but bottom line --It is not necessary for AA to work for me, but if it keeps my son on a sober path--then I am all for it. Whatever sober endeavor works for him works for me. He will ever have my love, concern, and compassionate support--regardless the path his journy takes.

I am still on the fence and have yet to attend a meeting but I am grateful to know that Al-Anon is there if and when I need it. I will likely give this book another read. Journal about my thoughts and reflections. Read more books. Stayed tuned I'm sure there will be more to say...

Understanding and Helping an Addict by Andrew Proulx, MD

2023 has turned out to be a lot. In times of stress I read a lot BUT I don't retain a has been that kind of a year to put it mildly. And yes, it has often been exactly this type of year.

The full title also includes:  (And Keeping Your Sanity). I simply cannot recommend this book highly enough. This book advises, that in light of most resent scientific research, taking a different approach to helping an addict, an approach that is more effective, as it allows one and one's addict a path to taking back their own life and sanity.

To solve a problem one must first understand the problem. The author explains the effects of addictive substances on the brain and mind, and why addicts and alcoholics behave the way they do. He outlines how to form a bond with an addicted loved one and use this bond to move to a williness and mental readiness to accept the help they need. It addresses how the addicts "circle of chaos" can affect those who "try to help" and gives one effective means of support without becoming (or continuing to be) an enabler.

This book corrected so much of my faulty beliefs around addiction, and no doubt made me something of a teacher's pet in the family therapy portion of my addict's 30 day rehabilitation program.

If nothing else it taught me this: An addict is not a bad person who needs to get good; an addict is an unwell persion who needs to get well.

The Four Seasons of Recovery (For Parents and Alcoholics and Addicts) by Michael Speakman

A book I bought while seeking to "fix" my child, who came clean about their addiction to alcohol in 2023. What was most helpful for all involved was instead to remove my "fix it" hat, and not to continue reading this book. An addict needs to want recovery for themselves and do the work themselves, if recovery has any hope of succeeding. Worrying and micromanaging not helpful.  Empathy, true understanding, and a hand out if needed for support toward all sober oriented endeavors. For the best of all concerned I am putting this book to one side but will keep this on my shelf in case it ever becomes necessary.

Staying Sober: A Guide for Relapse Prevention by Terence T. Gorski & Merlene Miller

My adult child finally came clean about their addiction to alcohol in 2023. During our family session, the rehab counselor highly recommended this book for addicts to read once they were released from the rehab facility. So of course I (addict family member) bought the book to read as well. It is an excellent book for the ADDICT to read. As for a family member, maybe, and it does clarify in clear terms the signs of relapse. For me --it made me firmly glue my "fix it" hat in place and it took me a long time to get that hat back off. The only way recovery works is if recovery is what my child wants and is willing to do the work for themself.  (Look at me going gender non-specific) I hope that I have transitioned into an empathic source of comfort and support, that I have my boundaries in place such that I only support my child's sober endevours, but no matter circumstance, I will listen and working within our boundaries helping my child to remain safe, strong, and sober. I love my child and believe this to be firmly in their wheelhouse to accomplish. Hard lessons: Worrying and Micromanaging NOT HELPFUL

For the best of all concerned I have put this book to one side for now, I will keep it to hand, if at some point it becomes necessary.

Addiction In The Family by Louise Stanger

2023 has turned out to be a lot. In times of stress I read a lot BUT I don't retain a has been that kind of a year to put it mildly. And yes, it has often been this type of a year.

I probably need to go back and give this book a second read--in the light of what I have learned--I will no doubt be more receptive to the hard lessons a mother needs to accept. Myself, I needed more science backed information on the latest research into addiction and did not feel that this was answering my questions.

That said it is a very good book.

How To Change Your Mind by Michael Pollan

2023 has turned out to be a lot. In times of stress I read a lot BUT I don't retain a has been that kind of a year to put it mildly.

I alway enjoy a Michael Pollan book and this one is no exception. I was curious to read about the science behind using psychedelics as a means to treat despression, anxiety, and addiction. I was also pleased that it discussed the Default Mode Network (a more recent discovery) in more detail. Fascinating--finally a bit more science about why meditation helps. A subject that I will be devoting alot more of my reading time. 

I would really like to find a pathway that keeps my DMN from shutting down all my previous attempts at a meditation practice.

Hi! I'm Debbie. Here at Categorically Well-Read I give an extra layer to the reading life. Learn more about me, check out my current category of books, submit your own suggestion, or check out my latest post.