Books to read in addiction recovery (18 MUST HAVES!)

A list of 18 books for you to read in recovery. Whether someone you love or yourself are a recovering addict, we have outlined suggestions about self-help literature and books to help you with alcoholism, drugs, behavioral addiction, or co-occurring disorders recovery.

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An addiction recovery library

It is nearly impossible to compile a list of all well written literature on the topic of addiction and recovery. But, how can you know what books you can trust  when you are recovering from addiction, or have a family member or a loved one who is in recovery? How do you select the right books when there are so many?

We have attempted to get your reading list sorted by offering a beginning list of book suggestions that we believe can assist you in understanding more and taking the right steps in addiction recovery. NOTE HERE: We’ve excluded all time favorites such as “Alcoholics Anonymous: The Big Book” and present only the works with which we have a personal reading experience from 2010 to present.

We apologize if the book that saved your life in recovery did not make this list. In fact, if you have a book in mind that people should read, send it to us! Your recommendations are welcomed in the comments section below, and also feel free to ask your questions related to this topic.


1. Recover To Live.

This book, written by Christoper Kennedy Lawford, is an excellent resource for anyone looking to understand general and specific conditions related to chemical and behavioral addictions. “Recover to Live” is a self-treatment guide aimed at those who are looking for help with alcohol, drugs, eating disorders, gambling, hoarding, smoking, sex and porn addiction. As a collection of expert opinions, it features conversations with the world’s top experts in addiction. The book, besides covering many types of addiction, also covers issues such as cross-addiction and the causes of addiction.

2. Believable Hope.

In his book “Believable Hope”, Michael Cartwright shares the five (5) essential elements you need to beat any addiction. Michael gives examples of his own experience with drug and alcohol addiction, as well as the experiences and methods he used to become sober, successful, a well-respected addiction recovery figure, and a pillar in the dual diagnosis addiction treatment industry. If you are struggling with a drug or alcohol problem, suffering from prolonged depression or weight gain, this book offers the methodology of five (5) core elements that have helped tens of thousands of people over the years.

3. Dark Wine Waters.

The story of author Fran Simone, PhD and her husband Terry begins happy. He is a loving, kind and supportive husband, a good father – yet he’s a drinker. But, unlike the angry, abusive kind of alcoholic, Terry is a highly-functioning one. Fran is in denial because of this, so she takes on a codependent behavior. “Dark Wine Waters” can help spouses of functioning addicts and alcoholics help themselves, find out if they are in a codependent relationship, give them hope by showing that they are not alone, and provide them with the needed strength to take action.


4. The Couch Of Willingness.

This book is written from a different perspective and tells the story of an addiction treatment professional who got caught up in alcoholism. Written by Michael Pond and Maureen Palmer, “The Couch Of Willingness” testifies that addiction is a disorder that does not discriminate. Michael, a respected and successful man with a beautiful family, finds he can no longer cope with the pressure after two decades of helping patients with addiction. This book can help anyone who is struggling with alcohol problems relate to similar experiences, learn more on the nature of addiction, gather information, seek help and stay sober.

5. Expressions of Drunkenness (Four Hundred Rabbits).

People interested in the social, medical, and cultural aspects of drinking alcohol should pick up this book. The book approaches “drunkenness” and “intoxication” from a fresh and interdisciplinary perspective. “Expressions of Drunkenness” is a dense and fascinating look into how throughout history, humanity has used and related to one another (as well as self) via drinking alcohol. Taking past socio-cultural factors in mind, this book will advance your current understanding of the individual and collective meanings, purposes, and functions of drunkenness.

6. Sober For Good.

Anne M. Fletcher offers new solutions for drinking problems and communicates suggestions and advice from those who have succeeded. She has gathered hundreds of stories from men and women who have resolved their drinking problems, and writes about the different recovery paths fit for virtually everyone. “Sober for Good” offers alternatives to AA (in case you find AA not cut out for you), provides support so you can recover on your own and without calling yourself an alcoholic. In this book you can get inspired by the success stories of other people who have walked the same path.

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7. What’s Left Of Us.

Richard (Richie) Farrell is the author and voice behind a wonderful and difficult story of heroin addiction and recovery. “What’s Left of Us” is a book for people in recovery, or for individuals who are not even addicts, but who want to understand and relate to what motivates people to use sex, heroin, behaviors or substances to dull the pain of life. This memoir tells you the true story of how low a man can get in life and how hard he needs to fight to escape the ugliness of hard drug addiction, desperation, violence and lies.

8. Recovery and Renewal.

We decided to include “Recovery and Renewal” by Baylissa Frederick in our reading list of books related to drug addiction, because the issue of dependency and withdrawal from prescription drugs is a big one.

In this book, the author explains how prescription drugs (more accurately sleeping pills, other ‘benzo’ tranquillisers and antidepressants) work, and offers a clear look into the side effects and possible withdrawal symptoms that might occur. The techniques described in “Recovery and Renewal” can help you through the acute stages of prescription drug withdrawal and make you less anxious while going through the process. We find this book to be an excellent desk reference for patients who’d want to know what they can expect from withdrawal and what they can do once it occurs, as well as for doctors treating the possible symptoms of prescription drug dependence.

9. Survivors Of Addiction.

By gathering the narratives of fifteen people in recovery, author Mary Addenbrooke provides an overview of how and why people become addicted, and explores what happens once the addiction is left behind. All in all, “Survivors Of Addiction” examines the healing process, by getting deep into the WHY’s and HOW’s of addiction recovery. If you are interested in rationally observing the minds of addicts, this book is for you. Easy to follow, these thoughtful and profound explorations into the voices of addiction recovery are an essential reading for anyone who wants to get their head around addiction issues.


10. Co-occurring Addiction And Mental Health Disorders.

In this handbook, author Mark McGovern informs and empowers those who are living with addiction and co-occurring disorders to choose their treatment path, and create a treatment program (along with a trained clinician) that can address their specific needs. Working with the right team and with an approach fit for your needs, you can set achievable goals, make positive changes, and build a support network of family and friends while in co-occurring disorders recovery. The handbook “Co-occurring Addiction And Mental Health Disorders” is written and designed to help people with co-occurring disorders thrive in recovery.

11. An American’s Resurrection.

As the full title of this book described “An American’s Resurrection: My Pilgrimage from Child Abuse and Mental Illness to Salvation”, here you will read about the author’s (Eric C. Arauz’s) personal turbulations from his life, fight with mania and addiction, and recovery. This inspiring story will get you closer to what is happening within the lives of the most misunderstood groups in America – the people suffering from addiction and other mental illnesses.

12. The Dual Disorders Recovery Book.

A book that can help people suffering from substance use disorders and an emotional or psychiatric illness to better understand the 12 Step program and help the addiction recovery process. It brings you closer to the ways substance abuse and mental psychiatric disorders are intortwined, while offering a very realistic and empathetic solutions for recovery. “The Dual Disorders Recovery Book” is based on science, but so well-written that it can explain even more complicated states of mental health problems even to people who are not afflicted with dual diagnosis.


13. Women and Problem Gambling.

This well-written piece by Liz Karter covers the issue of women gambling problematically. It’s based on the author’s own research and theories that were developed throughout her extensive practice. Reading it, you will have a chance to explore what may lead to problem gambling in women and how unhealthy relationships and lonely, troubled, or damaging lives can move women closer to the trap.

“Women and Problem Gambling” covers several aspects of the problem, starting from the role of the gambling industry, the role of society, as well as the relationships of women with themselves and with others. The goal is to give an answer to the frequently asked question about “Who is to blame?” from several perspectives. This book can provide valuable insight to families, friends, therapists, healthcare professionals, and to women problem-gamblers.

14. Don’t Call It Love.

A book about relationship dependency, co-authored by Dr. Gregory L. Jantz and Dr. Tim Clinton that aims to help relationship addicts recognize their unhealthy patterns and break the cycle of relationship dependency. Where does relationship dependence come from? And, what contributes to it? It is all answered in “Don’t Call It Love”.

The book includes comprehensive examples, check-lists, and facts that anyone can use to identify signs of unhealthy dependence in a relationship. So, if you keep falling into the same dead-end relationships again and again, search for another person to make you feel complete, or believe that you are not enough, this is the book that can help guide you towards the key to healthy relationships. In the end, “Don’t Call It Love” features a twelve-week personal recovery plan to get you started.

15. Out Of The Shadows.

A book that will help you understand sexual addiction. Written by the author and treatment pioneer Patrick Carnes, “Out of the Shadows” starts off by trying to explain sexual addiction to the reader. Many times addicts are not aware of the problem. Also, partners and loved ones may not understand how sexual experience becomes the reason for being and the primary relationship for the addict. The author walks us through the four-step cycle that includes preoccupation, ritualization, compulsive sexual behavior, and despair. The latest (3rd) edition of “Out of the Shadows” also covers the phenomenon of cybersex addiction, and in the end leads readers towards finding help for sexual compulsion.


16. Raising Healthy Children In An Alcoholic Home.

Barbara L. Wood addresses strategies for raising healthy children in families with an alcoholic parent. “Raising Healthy Children in an Alcoholic Home” can be useful in many practical ways, as the author treats this subjects with empathy and a vast clinical understanding. The book offers a clear and sensible guidance on how to protect children from the harms caused by parental alcoholism. We recommend it to parents who are raising children in a family that deals with alcoholism, as well as to counselors, therapists, and healthcare professionals that are working with families struck by this issue.

17. Hope Street.

Describing an emotional roller coaster, author Amanda Andruzzi wrote her “Hope Street” memoir to provide insight into what it’s like to live with an addict and be a co-addict. Anyone dealing with a spouse or a family member suffering from addiction can relate to the situations described. Amanda’s writing will make you feel understood and let you know that experiences of feeling alone and fearing to leave an addicted partner can be much alike. In the end, this is a memoir about a frightening journey that inspirationally ends in her finding the courage and strength to overcome the issues and leaves the past in the past.

18. Why Don’t They Just Quit?

If you are a loved one of someone who’s an active addict or in recovery, it’s likely that life will take you to many unexpected turns and you will have to deal with many situations. Joe Herzanek’s “Why Don’t They Just Quit?” brings these much needed insights to families and friends, and offers practical solutions about co-dependence, dealing with a relapse, financing addiction treatment, staging interventions, letting go, and many other topics. This is one of the best reads for families of addicts, but also for anyone else who is wondering what addiction compulsion is and how recovery takes place.

Questions about books to read in recovery

Like our list and have already read some of the books we listed? Or, perhaps you have some other book-suggestions that have helped you or a loved one in recovery? We welcome you to ask your questions and share your feedback by posting in the comments section below. We try to get back with all legitimate inquiries in a personal and prompt manner.

About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
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