Man reading to help you understand addiction

3 Books to Help You Understand Addiction

Where do you turn when you need help understanding addiction? There’s a book for that.


They have a way of transporting us from all that we know into a completely unknown world—that is, from our own mind to the mind of the narrator. We see and understand things as they see and understand them. 


In this way, books educate and build empathy. And if we’re to help a friend or family member find addiction treatment and reach recovery, we need to learn all we can about what they’re going through. 


Today we’ll take a look at three books that will help you understand addiction.


As you read these memoirs, make a conscious effort to immerse yourself. Imagine the struggles as your struggles, the triumphs as your triumphs. Remember what you’re reading and how you’re feeling—and hold these thoughts close as you interact with your loved one. 


And if you’re the one with a substance use disorder, consider sharing this list with your parents, spouse or close friends. It’s possible they want to understand what you’re going through but simply need an outsider’s perspective. 


Memoirs of an Addicted Brain

A Neuroscientist Examines his Former Life on Drugs

by Mark Lewis

As the title implies, Dr. Lewis spent years in the clutches of illicit drugs, including heroin and LSD. He’s now a neuroscientist with a background in psychology. 


The well-roundedness of his experience—both as a man formally educated and one who’d lived out what he learned about—makes him the perfect candidate for explaining what’s actually going on in the mind of a person on drugs. 


His personal story serves as a real-world example for what researchers tell us: drugs and alcohol chemically change the brain. Read his book, and you’ll get how—and why it matters. 



Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget

by Sarah Hepola

Hepola writes with a candid and, at times funny, tone about the ways drinking made life more fun and more freeing—until it didn’t. Even as her career soared, she partied the night away, making the most of every encounter with friends and strangers alike. 


But she’d often blackout, waking up in the morning with only a guess about what she’d done and where she’d been. Hepola didn’t necessarily want to get sober. Hitting rock bottom (again) did the trick. 


Her memoir shines a light on what it means to be a functional alcoholic, the struggle to follow through with addiction treatment plans and the joy of finding yourself on the other side. 


Beautiful Boy

A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Addiction

by David Sheff

Journalist and father of three, Sheff didn’t understand how Nic, his bright, funny and athletic son, ended up addicted to meth and living on the streets. What went wrong, and how on earth could he, as a dad, possibly set things right? 


With a relentlessness that becomes its own form of addiction, Sheff does everything he can to empathize with and help his son. And while we won’t tell you exactly how things shake out, you can take comfort in the fact that Nic does eventually find healing. 


You might benefit from reading Nic Sheff’s own words about growing up as a wealthy kid with early exposure to drugs and what it took for him to reach out for addiction treatment finally. His memoirs are titled Tweak and We All Fall Down. 


It can be a challenge to know where to start when you want to understand addiction. These books can be a great resource for you. If you or your loved one are living with addiction, there’s hope for recovery. The Right Step Houston can help. Call us at 844.768.0169


By Stephanie Thomas

Contributing Writer with Promises Behavioral Health

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