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Reading Material

August 4, 2014 344 comments

What are the the books, blogs, articles and other links that have helped you in recovery?

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344 comments

    1. This is great. As the webmaster for Club East, a facility for AA and NA groups in Indianapolis, IN, I’m constantly on the lookout for resources I can refer our folks to. This is an invaluable source of contemporary information. Thanks so much.

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  1. Hi Have just read this interesting article on Alcohol is Destroying Us here is the direct link
    http://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/health/alcohol-is-destroying-us-four-australians-share-their-stories/story-fneuzlbd-1227032066650
    If you cant just click on it, highlight from http to end digits, right click and the grey box that comes down gives you selections, e.g go to http…., if it doesnt then copy and paste it into address bar happy reading

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    1. That book is, in your face. You know, Marion Keyes is now sober. Which is very inspiring. She has a new baking book out where she talks a little about her sobriety.

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  2. I have a few books I found really helpful:
    Every Silver Lining has a Cloud: Relapse and the Symptoms of Sobriety, by Scott Stevens
    Scott writes so well about his own experiences and the psychological processes that go with recovery. But what I found fascinating and a very compelling argument was his research and discussion about the neurological effects of the disease, particularly the role elevated levels of cortisol play in sabotaging recovery and how stress during recovery can spike already high levels in the recovering alcoholic. It’s a great explanation of why we recovering alcoholics are more sensitive to everything as we recover.

    In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction, by Gabor Mate, MD
    Gabor Mate has spent several decades working with Vancouver’s community of alcohol and drug addicts, and he presents one of the better explanations of how long-term use of alcohol and drugs affects the brain and also some interesting research about why some of us are pre-disposed to abusing alcohol and drugs as a result of things that happened long before we picked up a drink.

    Both of these are available for Kindle and other formats.

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  3. Susan Powter puts it like this in ‘Sober… and Staying That Way

    If you are going to get sober and stay that way, you are going to have to give it up.

    Drinking has got you by the throat and throttles you every time you do it. You will never ever win when you step into the ring wit Muhammad-yes, The Man – Ali. And that’s what you do every time you put the bottle to your lips. Fighting the world champion of all time. Not one of us has a chance against Ali. Put the gloves down and walk the hell out of the gym.

    Retire, surrender. It’s over.

    Think of it this way, a couple of times a week someone suggests you go down to your local gym (Rocky neighbourhood gym) and fight. One on one. You and the strongest person on the planet. Mr. World Champion…

    Get yourself a robe (shiny red usually works well for boxers..) Make sure you’ve got yourself someone to go down with you to rub your shoulders, shove some water in your mouth, to be there to slap you in the face a couple of times in between each round…. Very boxing.

    How many rounds in this sport – ten, fifteen, or something? Who knows, who cares? “Cause you ain’t gonna last ten seconds, let alone ten rounds, of nothing with Ali!

    Give it up, ‘cause you ain’t gonna win, ever!

    Hold the flag up, walk out with your hands high in the air, up against the wall, cause it’s over…. It’s time to surrender. (And that is the first step in sober how.)

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    1. Thanks for sharing this. I am in the process of accepting I lost the moderation battle so this has put my feelings of weakness and failure into perspective . Susan Powter is one crazy chick but she is straight up and I got some good insights from one her you tube clip on alcoholism not so long ago.

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  4. The reading that has helped me most has been Allen Carrs book, Mrs Ds blog and Belle’s Tired of drinking.
    Receiving daily messages keeps me strong and focussed together with reading about all the reasons I don’t need this anymore.
    Day 30, early days but feeling strong

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  5. Hi just wanted to share my experience, in the hope it helps set someone free. I first became a nondrinker again 2888 days ago after some 17’885 days on the planet. For me I’m not recovering or abstaining, I have simply become a nondrinker again. How? I read the book called ‘How to Control Alcohol’ by Allen Carr. (after great success with his ‘The Easy Way to Stop Smoking’ book).

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  6. I have been struggling for 35 years with alcohol and been trying to quit for at least the last ten – read loads of books but the one which has hit the nail on the head for me is Veronica Valli’ “Why do you drink and how to stop – a Journey to Freedom”. It made me realise that I will never be successful at sobriety until I deal with the pain of my past which turned me to drink in the first place. I read the book this week and have already organised addiction and childhood trauma counselling as I can at last see the way ahead – it is a brilliant book.

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    1. Thank you for saying you have been trying to quit. I keep reading posts where everyone has quit ( which is fantastic btw ) but unlike me has slipped up, ive been unsuccessful now for about two years, I thought am I the only person who cannot do this ! But my view is changing and I can do this !

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  7. Could I ask a question. I often feel like alcohol is making me become more, kind of “disconnected” from my self. Does anyone feel the same? I was talking to a close friend who recommended a book by Russ Harris called “The Confidence Gap”. This guy has been on TED.com and is a genius at something he calls mindfulness.

    So if you fancy indulging in yourself I’d recommend spending some money and some newly found free time and dive in! The book offers some wonderful tips so you can get to know yourself again. It’s quite introspective and requires clear thinking – perfect for us soberites who are trying to find ways to to improve our lives without alcohol.

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    1. Brene Brown is another good resource I found, she has two Ted talks on line which are fantastic and helped me alot, one is on shame and the other on vunerability

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    2. When I first gave up drinking I used mindfulness, meditation and just basic breathing techniques. I find I don’t need to focus on it so much anymore as I’m generally much calmer. I am living more authentically now, so the breathing and mindfulness naturally and I don’t even realize I’m doing it…..if that makes sense. Sobriety just gets better and easier every year

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  8. A really nice read that isn’t anything to do with alcohol addiction but is a book on life/issues/stuff/beliefs/attitudes in general that anyone and everyone can read, relate to and benefit from is Heart Thoughts – A Treasury of Inner Wisdom by Louise Hay.
    It’s a very easy read, not a book you have to read all at once – even a page a day is wonderful. It puts a positive spin on things and provides easy to use affirmations and shows there is always another way to look at any given situation. I find it really inspiring and calming.

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  9. I have known I was alcoholic from the first day I took a drink. My father was 2 years sober at the time (still is by the way, 35yrs sober) and I knew a lot about alcoholism at an early age. I know that I am genetically alcoholic, and I believe a lot of people are genetically geared that way. Some people develop alcoholism, but I know for myself and a lot of other’s there was no way of preventing this affliction. All the knowledge about it didn’t help me. The only think that helps me is truly accepting the fate that I never have, cannot and will never drink alcohol moderately, once I have a drink I have something that drives me to keep drinking….

    Maybe I am one of the lucky ones as I have never drank normally I cannot reminisce about what it was like to do so, my drinking was always obsessive and …. well you all know!

    I am lucky because as I now accept this fact there is no argument that as this is physical, genetic an allergy call it what you like I cannot even start thinking about drinking without knowing I am going to have another worse experience of my life….

    Here is just one article.
    http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/AA72/AA72.htm

    Something for you to think about.

    alkiechick

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    1. Like your comment. Same for me. Genetic link, some crappy childhood experiences and bam there you are. I loved alcohol and the first time I had it I remember thinking Wow this is the answer I have been looking for. Took me another fifteen years to realise it wasn’t!

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  10. Two thoughts on books that I found interesting and helpful but that aren’t self-help books, because I can get a bit sick of that genre, even though I do read lots of that, too:

    Olivia Laing’s “The Trip to Echo Spring” was a great read if you’re someone who gets caught in the myth that people need wine to be creative. I needed that.

    Also, Ann Leary’s novel “The Good House” is a stark depiction of the inner life and denial of alcoholism. Plus Leary is a great writer, and the book is smart and funny.

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    1. Thanks for the recommendation on The Good House. I stayed up 3.5 hours past my usual bedtime to finish it because it was such a good read.

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    2. Loved The Good House!! Also, Ann Leary is Denis Leary’s wife, FYI. Also loved All Fall Down by Jennifer Weiner. It is about prescription drugs, a novel centered around a family, and there are A LOT of similarities this book. Addiction is Addiction, right? Also loved New York Times culture writer David Carr’s book, The Year of the Gun. Great read and so honest. Non fiction.

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    3. I loved #The Good House#. Its actually the book that made me start to see I had a problem. I actually emailed Ann Leary to thank her and she emailed back to thank me and to encorage me to stay sober.

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  11. If you like autobiograhies Clarissa Dickson Wrights “Spilling the Beans” is a fascinating read. Clarissa was one half of The Two Fat Ladies from the cooking series.

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  12. Ditto all of the above. Also Jill Stark’s ” High Sobriety- My Year Without Booze” and “Between Drinks” by David Downie . Both are journalists with pretty heavy drinking habits ( surprise!) who took time off drinking. They explore everything from their own histories to the physical effects of alcohol to drinking culture in Australia and UK. As far as I know David Downie stayed off alcohol after his break and Jill Stark decided to try moderation. Both books are very good reads and excellent arguments for taking a break from alcohol to reassess its role in your life and to discover what you are not achieving by drinking habitually.

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    1. Enjoyed “High Sobriety”.

      Romped along in a very engaging way.

      Starts off as an enviable indulgent memoir and rapidly slips down the hydroslide of life to an ugly inside view of addiction.

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  13. Some of my faves are:

    Drinking: A Love Story, Caroline Knapp – a classic for a good reason. I have read this multiple times and it hits me hard every time.
    The Sober Revolution, Lucy Rocca & Sarah Turner
    Dry, Augusten Burroughs
    Under the Influence – good wake up call about the realities of alcoholism
    Beat the Booze – was a soft landing when I was first confronting my drink problem
    Sober for Good – interesting stories about different ways people got sober
    And of course… Mrs D is Going Without :)

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    1. Hi Lilly — I read “Under the Influence” as well — and thought “darm im stuffed” when I realised all the nuero science behind alcoholism — still there was some sense of relief in that. Another one I read about 6 months ago was called “Drunk Mum” by Jowita Bydlowska (she is a journalist for the Huffington Post and this book Is her memoir) – that’s an interesting insightful read too –:-)

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  14. I read “How to quit without feeling s**t” by Patrick Holford. I’m quite a health nut so this book was good for me as I read about what my body needed as in supplements once I kicked the poison.
    It’s helped me with cravings and my sleep patterns. It’s not just about alcohol but about other addictions too.
    Loved Mrs D’s book the best though, that’s what really made me quit for good.

    Kersti

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    1. I just downloaded “how to quit without feeling shit”. What an awesome read. Aside from the booze, I’m quite a health nut too! This was just the book I was looking for. Thank you.

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  15. There is a great book out there called Drink by Ann Dowsett Johnston. It’s definitely worth a look. I also enjoyed Dry by Augusten Burroughs.

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    1. I’ve sipped the first few chapters of “Drink”. I like the way the memoir is peppered throughout with the research and factual information.

      The more of these memoirs I read, the more I realise how COMPLETELY unoriginal my slip-slide into lushdom really is or should I say was!!

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  16. As you know, I hated Jason Vale’s book (poor Jason, I still get quite a lot of hits from people googling for his book and ending up on my site), but I do want to recommend someone else. Lucy Rocca and Sarah Turner’s ‘Sober Revolution’ is also really excellent for positive messages. I have to get round to writing a proper review of this book, actually, because I love it so much. I’m mentioning it because it’s very focused on – hey, give up alcohol and see what happens. You don’t have to call yourself an alcoholic, you don’t have to tell yourself that it’s forever. But why not just see what potential you have underneath the booze? And it’s very readable and accessible. Go read it!

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    1. In his preface, Jason Vale claims he wrote his original book before Alan Carr. I gather they fell out over who stole it, but made up years later. I didn’t like Alan Carr’s book, but do like Jason Vale’s. I think it’s just that I prefer his writing style.

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    2. Hey @MorganfollowsMrsD you are not the first person to make that comment that Vale’s book is like a total rip-off of Carr’s.. I agree! Right down to chapter subjects & headings… I prefer Vale’s writing style just because it’s a bit more jaunty but have always felt that Carr was the ‘original’ dude to push this way of looking at alcohol (which by the way makes total and utter sense to me and was hugely hugely hugely influential in how I retrained my brain).. anyway I just found out recently that Vale was actually one of Carr’s ‘trainers’ at his seminars so in a way Vale is a student of Carr.. hence why he knows his stuff inside out. Presume the copyright people at both publishers would be across if it were blatant plagiarism …!

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    3. I just want to know if he totally plagiarised Allan Carr ‘s book or if he got permission to write an updated kind of version? Don’t want to seem obsessive, but…??? Do you know Allie?

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    4. The Caroline knapp one sounds good and theburroughs not read either. Need to keep busy!
      I hated Jason vales because it was a straight rip off of Allen carrs ! I managed to quit smoking with his method but not drinking alas

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    5. Hi Allie. I agree on the Sober Revolution! I have also met Sarah Turner in RL (wow, is there such a thing as sober celebrity name dropping ;-)) and she is absolutely fab. I have read quite a bit if Jason Vale but not all. The one bit of his that stuck in my mind is how he describes children having such fun and joy at parties without alcohol. Makes me very sad! He really is the Marmite/Vegemite of sober literature though …

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    6. Yes!!! I absolutely loved this book. It gave me the courage to try to stop drinking. I would recommend this book to absolutely every woman (and probably lots of men) who wonder if they have a problem with alcohol.

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    7. I agree, “Sober Revolution” is well worth reading. I like that there are profiles of lots of kinds of problem drinkers, and like Allie says, I appreciate that the message that it’s important to stop drinking without worrying whether you’re an alcoholic. I found that helpful, in a way that doing a million “Am I an alcoholic” quizzes never quite was.

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    8. This is interesting as I have said to myself that this is maybe not forever, but that I am not drinking again until I get my happy back, whenever that is. I’ve been so wine-sodden for so long, I’ve forgotten what happy looks like.

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  17. Allen Carr’s “The Easy Way To Stop Drinking” was very helpful. Like Jason Vale he also worked really hard to get inside my brain and make me see alcohol in a completely different way than society has had me see it all my life. It offers you nothing, it doesn’t make anything better, it tastes awful, no drinker is in control of their intake we’re all just alcoholics in waiting, you’re not giving anything up, you’re gaining so much. He talks about the ‘critical point’ being when the drinker has two parts of their brain working just as strongly as the other. One part wants to drink as often and as much as you want, the other part now sees your drinking as a problem. I got to that point two years before I gave up! But he says the problem is that both parts when working make you miserable, they work in complete opposition to each other. So the only solution is to stop drinking but doing it by (what he calls) the ‘willpower’ method doesn’t work as you’ll still feel miserable that you’re depriving yourself of something desirable. You have to use his method (which is what I’ve been doing!) and retrain your brain to realise that you’re not giving anything up you are freeing yourself of something you don’t want or need.

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    1. Yep, Allen book was a get key to my sobriety. That and Jack Timpany “Rational Recovery” Both really, really help turn your mind around on your perceptions of alchol.

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    2. I really liked the concept of it, that you don’t need to replace it with anything (as with smoking) because you are freeing yourself from something that you don’t need. I found that both books warn you that you only have one shot with this method ( I probably got that wrong) . Also that you had to have a drink to mark the end of drinking. This did two things for me , convinced myself if I failed that was it and whenever I read these books I was already off it and would have to buy a drink which I didn’t want to do!! Talk about negative thinking! Anyway no more!!

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    3. Oh my goodness! Talk about hitting the nail on the head. Once I made my mind up to quit for a year, I stopped having the battle in my mind. Then I returned to wine, and the battle begun again within me. Which then causes a really unsettling feeling within yourself and the knowing that ‘I think I have a slight prob when it comes to alcohol’. So reading the two parts work in complete opposition to each other, makes so much sense. As I ‘m sure that’s what most of us would experience. Thanks so much once again Lotta for giving your energy and time and sharing your knowledge with us all. :) Have a great weekend

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    4. This is how I stopped drinking. I read some of the book and went to an Allen Carr workshop in the U K. I was sceptical but I haven’t drank since and it has not been difficult at all. I think his method works

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  18. Jason Vale’s ‘Kick The Drink … Easily!’ was probably the best book for retraining my brain. I read it really early in my sobriety and it was brilliant. He’s got some great words, I really enjoyed it actually. He’s breaks down life into a series of events and examines exactly what you are getting by adding alcohol into each one (answer: nothing) and talks about how we are brainwashed and conditioned into accepting this drug as a normal part of life from day one. Really examining what alcohol does to the brain and body, and how the addiction rules you, and how it’s not necessary to drink alcohol in order to have fun or enjoy any special occasion. He talked about being free. And I like that. Free! It’s a light word, denotes a lightness of mood and mentality. A fun, free attitude to being sober. Not brooding around being tense and glum, dreading events, feeling left out or hard done by. Free! Sober but still fun. This book really worked for me.

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    1. As always, @Mrs-D you extract the essence so clearly & succinctly. Appreciate it. These last two posts of yours need to be placed in front of beginners eyes for the first few months of the journey! Mine! I have written out a Carr quote which stands on the dining table, a bit negative for some, granted, but a great reminder:
      ‘Alcohol is a powerful poison & will shorten your life considerably … It is highly addictive, will debilitate your immune system & impede your concentration. It will systematically destroy your nervous system, your confidence, your courage & your ability to relax.” Remember that one? Wow.
      Who wants a wine now?

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    2. I read Mrs D first. Then i decided to go through the steps that Lotta did because i didnt have a clue how to stop by myself. I then read Jason Vale and am now reading Growing up a drunk girl. Its all worked so far. Jason really got into my head and what he said made perfect sense. And i do ‘the Lotta’ visualising going to bed sober and waking up fresh.

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    3. Agree! This book really made me feel really good about my decision to “kick the drink”! I too love the concept of being FREE! Free of an awful addiction, free to live life, a much better life, without shame or guilt, and on my own terms – not being a slave to the addiction. I also love the concept of not falling into that “poor me, I’m an alcoholic, and my life sucks because I can’t drink alcohol” trap. All in all, a very positive message!

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    4. Funny you should say how we have been conditioned to accept alcohol as a normal part of life, I am having a week away from my family to sober up and I have watched 6 movies, and 5 of them had alcohol in them, and I thought to myself wow, I have never noticed that before when I was drinking. I am reading Drunk Mummy by Jowita Bydlowska, it isn’t really helpful for brain retraining, just an insight into the disease and this woman’s constant battle and the insanity of it all, the lengths she goes to to hide and buy alcohol and the blackouts etc. I have passed alcohol in shops 3 times today and I am trying to retrain my brain to see it as poison as that’s what it is too me.

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    5. Ditto Mrs D, I’m reading this book at the moment….. And that’s exactly what happening to me. The feeling of being free. It’s how you look at it, determine it.

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