Alexandre B. Laudet, Ph.D.
Drug and alcohol problems are the top public health problem in the United States, associated with heavy costs to the individuals and to the nation. Some 24 million people have a problem whose severity level warrants treatment and another 60 million drink and/or use drugs at levels that cause them and those around them problems with health, money, employment, family life, to name only a few.
Throw in what the experts call ‘process addictions’ that often co-occur with substance use –e.g., excessive gambling, eating, hoarding/shopping addiction, addiction to sex/porn – and you have a LOT of people with a lot of problems. Then there’s smoking whose dangers and costs are well documented. Yet few people (under 10% generally) with any of these problems seek professional help…
Self help books have become a popular resource for us to deal with virtually any problem – problems we know we have and problems we suspect (or fear) we have. Store shelves burst with self help books, most focusing on a single problem (e.g., smoking or overeating); most overpromise unrealistic results (the cure’!) based on untested strategies.
Christopher Kennedy Lawford’s newly released book, Recover to Live: Kick Any Habit, Manage Any Addiction: Your Self-Treatment Guide to Alcohol, Drugs, Eating Disorders, Gambling, Hoarding, Smoking, Sex, and Porn, his 4th, is very different. Yes it provides in-depth information about the causes, nature and course of addictions and toxic compulsions. The latest science in fact. In plain English. And it offers tools for readers to determine whether they have a problem and research based, tested strategies to do something about these problems. Most are strategies readers can implement on their own. But Recover to Live stands head and shoulders above the typical self-help book in many ways.
One of the aspects of Lawford’s book that makes it unique and a must read is its careful and powerful weaving of the author’s personal recovery experience with the most up-to-date scientific evidence and strategies to self-assess and address unhealthy behavior patterns and addictions. Lawford is the guide of the recovery journey, he’s saying ‘I’ve been there, here’s what I have learned from my experience and from the top experts, follow me, you can do it too!’. Another unique and equally noteworthy aspect of the book is its recognition that behavior problems tend to co-occur in many of us and ought to be addressed simultaneously rather than in isolation. For instance, many people who gamble too much also drink and smoke too much. The behaviors look different but the underlying brain mechanisms and many of the effective recovery tools are the same.
Recover to Live is powerful and highly informative read, penned in Lawford’s characteristic engaging writing style, even light hearted at times. Rarely does such a book cover a full range of problem behaviors and offers proven ways to address them. The book has already garnered praise from all corners – from former drug czars, top addiction researchers and congress members, to Russell Brand and Martin Sheen. This is definitely THE must read and a keeper for anyone seeking a healthier lifestyle or supporting a loved one in that pursuit. And that’s pretty much everyone.
Alexandre B. Laudet, Ph.D. is Director, Center for the Study of Addictions and Recovery at the National Development and Research Institutes, Inc.