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Books and Publications on Addiction and Recovery

For families and concerned others:


Jeffery Foote et. al, Beyond Addiction: How Science and Kindness Help Change People.  (New York, Scribner, 2014).


An excellent guide for families.  Based on the best available empirical research, Beyond Addiction: How Science and Kindness Help Change People provides a roadmap and practical advice for helping a loved one overcome addiction.  This book replaces “tough love” strategies with an approach grounded in scientific research, kindness, and compassion.



Books on Alcoholics Anonymous


Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions.  (New York, Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, 1953).


This concise book “presents an explicit explanation of the principles by which AA members recover and how AA as an organization functions.  Many ideas and beliefs are attributed to AA that are not part of AA’s official principles or program.  This book is the definitive reference and is published by Alcoholics Anonymous World Services.


Susan Cheever.  My Name Is Bill.  Bill Wilson: His Life and the Creation of Alcoholics Anonymous. (New York, Simon & Schuster, 2004). 


This biography of the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous captures the strengths and “character defects” of an extraordinary individual.   Susan Cheever draws vivid pictures of Bill Wilson and the early history of AA.


Francis Hartigan.  Bill W.:  A Biography of Alcoholics Anonymous Cofounder Bill Wilson.  (New York, St. Martin’s Press, 2000).


This biography is informative, detailed, and well-documented.  It is readable, thoughtful, and treats the less admirable aspects of Bill Wilson’s character with candor and respect.  Francis Hartigan served as secretary and confidant to Lois Wilson, Bill Wilson’s wife.  He was given full access to personal papers pertaining to both, in Lois Wilson’s possession.


Ernest Kurtz and Kathleen Ketchum. The Spirituality of Imperfection.  Storytelling and the Search for Meaning. (New York, Random House,1993).


A wonderful introduction to the concept of spirituality in AA and spirituality in general.  The book defines spirituality as the recognition and acceptance of humans as imperfect beings.  The book discusses how the founders of AA incorporated spirituality into its program of recovery.  The authors use anecdotes from diverse religious traditions to illustrate the need and benefits of spirituality in recovery.


Nan Robertson.  Getting Better: Inside Alcoholics Anonymous.  (New York, William Morrow and Company, 1988).  


Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Nan Robertson tells the story of AA and her own story of addiction to alcohol and her recovery through participation in AA.  It explains and demystifies the program of AA.



Self Help


Lance Dodes.  The Heart of Addiction: A New Approach to Understanding and Managing Alcoholism and Other Addictive Behaviors.  (New York, Harper, 2002).


This book is for individuals who are interested in non-12 Step approaches to understanding addiction and recovery.  In this book, psychiatrist Lance Dodes looks at the repetitive, compulsive, and self-destructive behavior patterns that characterize addiction as first and foremost stemming from psychological difficulties.  These psychological difficulties can be identified, understood, and changed by the individual struggling with an addictive disorder.



Memoirs of Addiction and Recovery


Benoit Denizet-Lewis.  America Anonymous: Eight Addicts in Search of a Life.  (New York, Simon & Schuster, 2009).


America Anonymous follows the lives of eight individuals whose addictions include heroin, alcohol, methamphetamines and steroids, food, sex and pornography, gambling, and shoplifting as they face their addictions and work towards healing and recovery.  It is a book with heart and compassion that speaks to the anguish of active addiction and the resilience and determination of addicts seeking recovery.


Leslie Jamison.  The Recovering.  Intoxication and Its Aftermath.  (New York:  Little Brown and Company, 2018).


Leslie Jamison vividly describes her love affair with alcohol and her entrapment by alcoholism.  She unflinchingly describes her efforts to find recovery.  This is an honest and insightful description of how Alcoholics Anonymous saved one person's life.


Kristen Johnston.  Guts: The Endless Folly and Tiny Triumphs of a Giant Disaster.  (New York, Gallery Books, 2013).


Actress Kristen Johnston (of 3rd Rock From The Sun fame) unflinchingly tells the story of her addiction to alcohol and drugs and her hard-won recovery.  Her memoir is both excruciating in its honesty and hilarious at the same time.


Caroline Knapp.  Drinking: A Love Story.  (New York, Dial Press, 1997).


Caroline Knapp tells a compelling story of beginning to drink at age 14 in a family where alcoholism was already operating under the surface but unacknowledged and the events that led her to enter rehab and recovery at age 36.  It is a painful story of the damage of alcoholism and of hope and resilience.


Olivia Laing.  The Trip to Echo Springs: On Writers and Drinking.  (New York, Picador, 2013).


In The Trip to Echo Springs, Olivia Laing looks at the link between creativity and alcoholism in the work and lives of: F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams, John Berryman, John Cheever, and Raymond Carver.  She charts the effects of alcoholism on each writer’s work and life.  Some of these individuals find recovery, some drink themselves to death, some suicide.  This is an insightful and beautifully-written book.  While strictly speaking The Trip to Echo Springs is not a memoir, the author speaks personally and deeply about her desire to make sense of alcoholism as the daughter of an alcoholic mother.


Clancy Martin. “The Drunks Club. A.A., The Cult that Cures.” Harper’s Magazine, January (2011): 28-38.


From a deeply personal perspective, this article takes on the ambivalence that many individuals feel toward AA – the gratitude for what AA can and does do for the person seeking sobriety and the anger and disappointment at its limitations.

Publications on Addiction for Professionals


Alcohol Research: Current Reviews  (


Alcohol Research: Current Reviews (ARCR) is the peer-reviewed journal of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.  ARCR publishes in-depth reviews on important topics in alcohol research.


The Carlatt Addiction Treatment Report (


The Carlatt Addiction Treatment Report (CATR) is a newsletter that provides “current, practical and relevant information to addiction specialists.”  It is a very useful publication for staying current on the latest topics in addiction treatment.  CATR does not receive any corporate funding and provides unbiased assessments of all available treatments in the addiction field.



Books on Addiction for Professionals


Carlo C. DiClemente.  Addiction and Change.  How Addictions Develop and Addicted People Recover. (New York, Guilford Press, 2003). 


By one of the leading researchers on stages of change model of behavior change, Dr. DiClemente combines empirical research, the theory, and practice to how individuals develop addictions and how they recover.


William R. Miller and Stephen Rollnick.  Motivational Interviewing: Preparing People to Change, 3rd ed.  (Guilford Press, 2012).


This book outlines the basic theory and empirical research for motivational interviewing and illustrates the techniques with extensive clinical vignettes.  Motivational interviewing was originally developed to help addicted individuals address their ambivalence about change and getting them “unstuck” but is now applied to numerous situations where people need help to change their behaviors.  The first edition of this book was titled Motivational Interviewing: Preparing People to Change Addictive Behavior.


Lisa M. Najavits.  Seeking Safety: A Treatment Manual for PTSD and Substance Abuse.  (New York, Guilford Press, 2002)


This book is for clinicians who are treating patients with both substance abuse and post traumatic stress disorders.  This is the first-empirically validated, integrated treatment approach for substance abuse and PTSD.  The book is structured around teaching “safe coping skills” that help individuals work toward abstinence and gain control over the symptoms of extreme trauma.  The book has 25 specific units with handouts and is designed to build specific skills.  It can be used in individual or group treatment.

Sam Quinones.  Dream Land.  The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic.  (New York:  Bloomsbury Press, 2016). 


Dream Land is a riveting narrative of how the opiate epidemic was created through the venality of a major pharmaceutical company, the hijacking of well-intentioned efforts by American medicine to alleviate the suffering of patients and the disastrous consequences of the U.S. government's "War on Drugs."

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