National Recovery Month 2014

  • As National Recovery Month draws to a close I wanted to review a critical book that I recommend all family members read along with Clean, the book I reviewed here last September.


    Beyond Addiction: How Science and Kindness Help People Change by Jeffrey Foote, PhD, Carrie Wilkens, PhD, and Nicole Kosanke, PhD with Stephanie Higgs is in my estimation the number-one book to read for techniques to help a loved one conquer a substance use disorder like alcoholism and street drug addiction.


    I recommend buying the book because a significant number of individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar use or abuse substances.  Their co-occurring disorders need to be treated at the same time.

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    The authors are wary of the buzzwords "detach with love" that so many programs advise family members to practice as a coping strategy.  The subtitle is A Guide for Families.


    You owe it to yourself to read this book and commit to trying the techniques.  Science and kindness can indeed help you help your loved ones.


    Denial is all too common as a coping mechanism because when the truth is too painful to bear a person could shut down and avoid facing the facts.  I suspect a lot of family members turn away from their loved ones or at least fail to keep in touch because being reminded of that person's hell keeps family members in a negative emotional state.  Who wants to feel uneasy every time they think of their loved one?


    The book is broken into sections:  where to start, what to know, how to cope, how to help, and live your life.  You can absolutely make a difference and help change the trajectory of a loved one's substance use disorder.  Doing nothing is not the solution.  Detaching from the person is not a technique.  If you loved him or her, could you really act like his or her illness was up to fate?


    Beyond Addiction is a detailed, thorough listing of the steps family members can take to help their loved ones change their behavior.  It's available in hardcover for $26 yet it's absolutely worth the cost of buying the book.


    The number-one takeaway?  "Don't wait for your loved one to hit rock bottom."  The sooner you take action while the problem is more easily treatable, the better the outcome will be.  And the book shows you how you can do this.


    Always stay involved and set boundaries: that's my motto. 


    Make that telephone call to see how your loved one is doing.  Send him or her a text or e-mail.  Give your loved one an expressive birthday card.  Be proud of his or her every effort to stay clean or sober.  Praise him or her for the little victories along the way as well as the milestones and anniversaries.


    Remember: beating on them for having any kind of setback or return to using is not the way to go.  Read Beyond Addiction for science-based techniques that you can use.  And remember that kindness is the way to go.


    I'll end here with this thought: it's true that science and kindness can help people change.


  • To quote the Mahatma Gandhi quotation at the front of the book:

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    "In a gentle way, you can shake the world."

Published On: September 29, 2014