My apologies, but for one week, I use this space to shamelessly — though with tact — feature a new book that's written to help people who don't know how to overcome alcohol and other drugs.
The little book is called "Now What? An Insider's Guide to Addiction and Recovery." It is neither profound nor deep. But it is practical. It reads fast, too, so it should help people move quickly from the problem to a solution.
Note that it offers "a" solution. That's because there are many pathways to recovery from alcoholism or drug dependence. The course laid out in this book happens to be one that works effectively for the author and several million other people.
.In other words, the advice is decidedly biased because it relies on the practical experiences of people like me. I wrote it. I know it because I live it.
The impetus for this book was the thousands of queries I've gotten over the years from addicts, alcoholics and their families, as well as employers, doctors, police chiefs, ministers, lawyers and social workers who deal with addiction all the time. Many of them come my way via this column, from places such as Kenosha, Wis., Sacramento, Calif., Dallas and Miami.
In 2010, this opening sentence of a letter from Marcy S. in Zanesville, Ohio, leapt off the page and jump-started this project. "HELP, MY SON IS DYING," she wrote.
And together we have, though her son still struggles with alcohol. Marcy and I have yet to meet, but she has allowed me to use the intimate details of her story in the book.
Addiction and the fight for survival turn utter strangers into intimate friends when we are willing to share our stories. This book encourages us to do just that with one another and especially with the next generation of our own children and grandchildren.
I believe that it is impossible to overcome a problem until we first understand what causes it. That's why the opening chapter, "Swiss Cheese: The Addict's Brain on Drugs," explains the neuroscience of this illness by comparing the brain to a slice of cheese. A provocative thought, isn't it? Read the book for more.
I am always comparing addiction to other chronic illnesses. And it is one, except in one whooper of a difference, and that's in the totality of the consequences for those who have it and families who must endure through it. That's why I compare addiction to bowling in the second chapter. Read the book for more.
The third chapter dispels the notion that addicts must "hit bottom" before they are ready to get help. It implores families not to wait for that bottom, too. Because by then, it is too late, I argue. It isn't about giving up.
It is all about giving in. And in the meantime, there are steps families must take to protect their own well-being, even if the addict isn't ready. Read the book for more.
In the fourth chapter, I explain what treatment is and what it isn't. There is no cure for addiction. There is a solution. For many people (but not all), treatment is the gateway to a life restored.
But treatment isn't the end of the addict's journey. It is the beginning, which is why the next chapter lays out the framework of support that is so vital to recovery — a framework that is as much about the addict's personal responsibility of commitment and effort as it is about not going it alone — or, as the chapter suggests, "Changing I to We." Read the book for more.
Relapse is real for many people on the road of recovery. But "Relapse Isn't a Dirty Word," as the sixth chapter explains. From the experience comes the opportunity to learn what wasn't working and what does. Read the book for more.
If these ideas and phrases and themes sound familiar to you already, that's because each week, I respond to your "Now What?" questions in this space. I don't have all the answers. And mine aren't for everyone.
But so far, they've worked for me in my own life, because a long time ago, my family and I asked the same questions when we didn't know what to do, either.
William Moyers is the vice president of public affairs and community relations for the Hazelden Foundation and the author of "Broken," his best-selling memoirs. His new book, "Now What? An Insider's Guide to Addiction and Recovery," has just been published. Please send your questions to William Moyers at email@example.com. To find out more about William Moyers and read his past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
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