Books for Addiction Counselors and other interested parties:

Here’s my list of favorite addiction-related books. Some are more traditional textbooks, and some were written more for entertainment, but all of these have helped me understand addiction and its treatment better. I highly recommend them all.

Principles of Addiction Medicine, ed. by Ries et. al.,  for the American Society of Addiction Medicine

            It’s expensive, but worth it. It contains comprehensive information about the whole field. If you’re going to work in this field for any length of time, you should buy it. And read it. It’s a mighty tome, and big enough to cause hernias if you lift it the wrong way, at 1408 pages. Get the 2009 4th edition.

Substance Abuse : A Comprehensive Textbook, by Lowinson et. al.

 Published by the American Psychiatric Association, it gives information about addiction from the psychiatrist’s perspective. More heavy lifting, at 1200 pages. This book may function better as a reference. Obviously, the information covered overlaps with information in Principles of Addiction Medicine. (But the latter is the better book, in my opinion) There’s also a distillation of information contained in a paperback version: Substance Abuse Handbook, by Ruiz, which is half the size at 500+ pages.

Addiction Treatment: Science and Policy for the Twenty-first Century, edited by Henningfield

            This is a small book packed with up-to-date information. If you don’t have much time to read (and I pity you) then this is one of the best books to stay informed. The book is divided into small chapters, written by different people who are experts on the given topic. It even gives space to minority opinions, like the chapter written by Stanton Peele. Once again, he describes in detail how apples are different than oranges. Yeah, I know, doesn’t seem worth discussing to me either. But that’s a short chapter.

High Society: How Substance Abuse Ravages American and What to Do About It, by Joseph Califano

            This book is packed with information and well-written enough to hold anyone’s attention. The book does a great job of describing the current U.S. situation with drug abuse and addiction. Critics of the book may say the book overstates the severity of addiction in the U.S., but sadly, I don’t it does. He cites extensive references, so go check them out yourself if you doubt what you read.

Rethinking Substance Abuse: What the Science Shows, and What We Should Do about It, edited by William Miller and Kathleen Carroll

            This book gives the latest update on which treatments are evidence-based, and discusses why these treatments aren’t being used to their fullest.  In this country, there is a gap between what we know to be the best kinds of treatments for addiction, and the treatments that are actually delivered. If you read this book, you’ll be better able to recognize which treatments we should be using. Some might find this book a little dry. The sections are written by people who know what they’re talking about.           

Addiction and Grace, by Gerald May

            This is still my all-time favorite. A small book, it talks about the nature of addiction, and the spiritual aspects of addiction and recovery. It describes the behaviors addictions can cause. It points out how all of us have addictions to varying degrees, which the author calls attachments. These attachments may not be to drugs, but they can be to activities, people, or behaviors.

Motivational Interviewing, by William Miller

            This book, along with Stages of Change by Prochaska and DiClemente describe the nuts & bolts of the motivational interviewing techniques. It goes into great detail about how MI is done, and points out the underlying reasons why this method works. Many people think they already “do” motivational interviewing, and they may – but reading this book will help you do it better. This method really works well with chronically angry clients.

Women Under the Influence, by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA)

            Probably the most extensively researched and annotated book describing addiction in women. Not only is the book itself interesting and educational, it has dozens of useful references. Be sure and check out CASA’s other books, most of which can be downloaded for free from their website: “You’ve Got Drugs,” about controlled substances access via the internet, “Shoveling Up,” about the cost of addiction to society, and “Under the rug” about how addiction is under diagnosed in some groups.

 I could go on and on, but this is a start….

Oh. Of course. I need to mention my all-time, number one favorite book of all time: Pain Pill Addiction: A Prescription for Hope, by me. It’s at the publisher’s now, and I am hoping it will be out by early September.


3 responses to this post.

  1. well, the ones I mentioned would be great ones to start with.


  2. Posted by Claire Beckwith on September 11, 2016 at 12:06 am

    I am looking for a book I used in the 80’s UNDER THE INFLUENCE. I did see the one related to women. The book I am looking for was a great guide for people preparing for certification for substance abuse counselor.


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