For thousands of years, books have been used to educate people, to inspire them, and to entertain them. Books can be helpful to people with addictions, people in recovery, and their loved ones for the same reasons. When a parent or friend of someone with an addiction reads a memoir of someone in recovery, it helps them to understand and empathize, ultimately helping them help their loved one. Reading a memoir of a person in recovery can inspire someone in active addiction to get help; it can give them hope that they too can recover. Someone in recovery who reads the memoir of a fellow person in recovery can be reminded of the power that sharing one’s story has to break down stigma. Through my work as a substance abuse counselor, I have read many books about the disease of addiction and those who have battled it. The three books that I recommend to clients and their families are Dreamseller: An Addiction Memoir by Brandon Novak, Beautiful Boy by David Sheff, and We All Fall Down by Nick Sheff.
Dreamseller: An Addiction Memoir by Brandon Novak
In Dreamseller: An Addiction Memoir by Brandon Novak, the author tells the story of his journey to find recovery from a heroin addiction. Brandon shares how he went from being homeless after six months of daily heroin use, to learning the basics of recovery in an inpatient treatment facility. He describes how his addiction progressed from alcohol, to marijuana, to pills, to heroin during his rise to fame as a skateboarder. He shares about the constant struggle he faces in early recovery, between living a lifestyle of sobriety, morals, and healthy relationships, and resisting the temptation to return to the lifestyle of drugs and manipulation. I don’t want to give away the ending, but by the end of the book it’s clear to the reader that Brandon still has some work to do when it comes to his recovery.
Dreamseller: An Addiction Memoir is a great read for individuals struggling with addiction, people in recovery, family members and friends of people with addictions, and counselors, because of the author’s ability to simplify the very complicated disease of addiction and make the chaos and insanity of addiction relatable and understandable. People in early recovery should exercise caution while reading the book, because the author’s account of his drug use could be triggering. This book also may not be appropriate for young people, as there is some graphic sexual content.
Beautiful Boy by David Sheff
Beautiful Boy is the account of David Sheff’s experience with his son’s addiction to heroin and methamphetamine. David describes his experience trying to balance the chaos of his son’s addiction with his job, marriage, and role as a father to his two younger children. He discusses the painful experiences of having to set boundaries with his son, and his attempts to get Nic into treatment. David illustrates the emotional rollercoaster of loving someone with an addiction: the hope and excitement as they agree to go to treatment, and the devastating disappointment when they relapse.
Beautiful Boy is a great book for family members and friends of people with addiction. The author does a great job of helping the loved ones of people with addictions to feel supported, understood, and not alone. Beautiful Boy would also be a great read for people in recovery, as it could help them gain insight into what their loved ones experienced during their active addiction and recovery. The book does have the potential to bring up feelings of guilt for people in recovery as they begin to realize what their loved ones went through as a result of their addictions. Therefore, people in recovery who read this book may want to discuss their reactions with their therapist.
We All Fall Down by Nic Sheff
We All Fall Down is Nic Sheff’s second book. It is the account of his relapse after being sober for some time. He discusses the denial he experienced in the beginning of his relapse that allowed it to progress. Nic describes the secrecy and feelings of guilt that came up as a result of knowing he was disappointing his family, friends, and fans. He also shares about how he eventually gained the courage to own up to his relapse and begin the recovery process over again.
I recommend We All Fall Down to anyone in recovery, early or not, so that they understand that relapse is a very real possibility and there are ways of preventing it. We All Fall Down is also a good read for family members and friends of those in recovery, because it can help them identify warning signs that their loved one has relapsed.
What makes a book a must-read for anyone who has been affected by addiction? A story that is understandable and helps to eliminate stigma. A story that is relatable and helps the reader to feel less alone. A story that is inspirational and helps foster a sense of hope. Dreamseller, Beautiful Boy, and We All Fall Down are three books that are understandable, relatable, and inspirational and I encourage you to read them, whether you are someone in active addiction, a person in recovery, or a loved one of someone with an addiction.
If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, Rehab After Work can help. Contact us to schedule an intake appointment today, or check out our programs to learn more about treatment options.
Article Written by Shaylyn Forte, LPC, CAADC