Posts Tagged ‘books’

Top Ten Books for Methadone Counselors

I have a fair number of methadone counselors who read my blog. I’m often asked by these counselors what books I recommend, which is like asking me what kind of dessert is good. The list is so long. But here are the ones all methadone counselors should read:

  1.  Medication-assisted Treatment for Opioid Addiction in Opioid Treatment Programs, by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. This is better known as “TIP 43,” because it’s the 43rd book in the series of treatment improvement protocols published by SAMHSA. You can get any book in the series for FREE! Yes, this book and several others are free resources. The website is: While you’re there, order TIP 40: Clinical Guidelines for the Use of Buprenorphine in the Treatment of Opioid Addiction, and TIP 35: Enhancing Motivation for Change in Substance Abuse Treatment. Then browse around, and see what else interests you. This is a great website, and all addictions counselors should be very familiar with it. There’s great material for counselors and their clients.
  2.   Pain Pill Addiction: Prescription for Hope, by….me. Hey, it’s my blog, so of course I’m gonna list my book. At least I didn’t put it at number one. But seriously, I do think my book describes what opioid addiction is, why this country is having such problems with opioid addiction now, and the available treatments for this addiction. I focus on medication-assisted treatments, which means treatments with methadone or buprenorphine, better known as Suboxone. After reading my book, any substance abuse counselor should be able to talk intelligently with patients and their families about the pros and cons of medication-assisted treatment. I tried hard to base this book on available research and not my own opinions, though I do state some of my opinions in the book. My book also has summaries of the major studies done using medication-assisted treatments, so that if you need resources to prove why methadone works, you’ll have them. OK. I’m done blathering. Order it on EBay and you’ll save some money.
  3.      Motivational Interviewing by William Miller and Stephen Rollnick. This is a book all addiction counselors should have… and read. I’ve learned so much about how to interact with people as they consider if, how, and when to make changes in their lives by reading this book. The authors demonstrate how the Stages of Change model easily fits with this style of counseling. There are some solid examples of how to incorporate MI techniques.
  4.      Cognitive Therapy of Substance Abuse, by Aaron Beck et. al. This is a venerable text describing cognitive therapy as it applies to substance abuse. The book is relatively concise, but it’s still dense reading. Get out your underliner because you’ll want to find some parts to read again. The dialogues in the book that serve as examples are instructive. This book has been around for some time, as texts go, since it was published in 2001.
  5.     Narcotics Anonymous Basic Text, by Narcotics Anonymous World Service. Now in its sixth edition, this is one of the books that serve as a foundation for 12-step recovery in Narcotics Anonymous. If you are a counselor who’s in recovery, you’ve probably already read it. If you’re not, you need to get it, read it, and be able to talk intelligently about the 12-step recovery program of this 12-step group. The AA “Big Book,” which is AA’s version of a basic text, has much of the original old-time words and phrases, and speaks mostly of alcohol. For these reasons, some addicts won’t like the Big Book as well as the NA Basic Text. However, the Big Book does have a certain poetry that will appeal to others. (….trudge the road of happy destiny…) You can order it at or go to that site and download it as a pdf.
  6.  The Treatment of Opioid Dependence, by Eric Strain and Maxine Stitzer. Written in 2005, this is an update to a similar title written in the 1990’s. This book reviews the core studies underpinning our current treatment recommendations for patients in medication-assisted treatment of opioid addiction. I don’t know why more people haven’t read this book, because it’s relatively easy to understand. Don’t make the mistake of assuming it will be too advanced for you. Get it and read it.
  7. Addiction and Change: How Addictions Develop and Addicted People Recover, by Carlo DiClemente. This book describes the paths people follow as they become addicted and as they recover. It’s focused on the transtheoretical model of the stages of change, so named because it can be used with many counseling theories. I think this is a practical book, and easier to understand than some texts.
  8.  Diagnosis Made Easier: Principles and Techniques for Mental Health Technicians, by James Morrison M.D. This is an improvement of his earlier book, DMS IV Made Easy, written in 1992. At any work site, addictions counselors will have to be familiar with the criteria used to diagnose mental illnesses. Since around 30 – 50% of addicts have another co-occurring mental illness, you need to be familiar with the criteria used to diagnose not just addiction, but these other illnesses as well. And this book makes learning relatively painless. It’s practical and easy to read, and based on common sense. It contains many case examples, which keep it interesting.
  9. The American Disease: Origins of Narcotic Control, by David Musto. This book has been updated and is on its third edition, but so much has happened since this last edition in 1999 that the author needs to write an update. This is an interesting book, and it moves fairly quickly. This information puts our present opioid problem into the context of the last century or so. As an alternative, you can read Dark Paradise: A History of Opiate Addiction in America, by David Courtwright in 2001. I included this book, but be warned it’s heavier reading. This author is an historian, so maybe his writing style didn’t resonate with me as much. Still, he has much good information. You can’t go wrong with either book. You could also read The Fix by Michael Massing, which is another book about the history of addiction and its treatment in the U.S… This last book doesn’t focus on just opioid addiction, but still gives all the pertinent history. This book is written by a journalist and will keep your interest. It was written in 2000.
  10.  Hooked: Five Addicts Challenge Our Misguided Drug Rehab System, by Lonnie Shavelson. This book, written by a journalist, follows five addicts through the labyrinth of addiction treatment. You’ll see the idiotic obstructions addicts seeking help are asked to negotiate in our present healthcare system. I was angry as I read the book, seeing obvious simple solutions that couldn’t be enacted for one administrative reason or another. Let this book make you angry enough to demand change from our system. Be an advocate for addicts seeking treatment.

 Have I left out any? Let me know which book have helped you be a better counselor or therapist.

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.