Wednesday, July 7, 2010

They Don’t Write Books About Recovery, Do They?

Recovery in Al-Anon, I mean. There’s a well-established recovery genre for addicts and alcoholics. These books tend to be organized in the same way:

There is the pre-recovery period in which the alcoholic or addict faithfully recounts his or her misdeeds and tragedies, and how those misdeeds ruined his or her life.

Then there is a turning point. Sometimes this occurs as a single incident in which the bolt of lightening strikes. More often, as in life, there are a series of incidents in which the light begins to dawn.

The balance of the book chronicles the addict/alcoholic’s recovery. Slow and halting at first, then gaining momentum until the addict’s life is transformed.

These books are terribly appealing, particularly to those of us who have loved ones who suffer from addiction, because they are about redemption. They tell us that change is possible. They give us hope.

Now, you might argue that there is also a whole genre of books written by parents of addicts and alcoholics, and I would agree with you. I just don’t see a lot of recovery in them.

These books also tend to be organized along the same lines. There is the recounting of the addict/alcoholic’s misdeeds. This portion of the book includes the dawning of awareness that there is a problem.

The devastation to the family is recounted in great detail, along with the heroic efforts of the parents to save their child.

Sometimes, the parents find Al-Anon, Naranon or some other support group. They recount feeling understood for perhaps the first time. There is comfort. But there is little change on the part of the parent.

If there is a turning point in the disease, the change occurs in the addict/alcoholic. The redemption at the end does not belong to the parent, but the addict. In the end, the parents’ lives are restored, not because they changed, but because their addict did.

Does that strike anyone but me as the very definition of codependency?

From beginning to end, the focus is not on the parent, but on the addict.

Where’s the recovery in that?

I’d like to read a book in which the change happens in the parents. Where they stop seeing themselves as victims or heroes, but flawed human beings who play a part in their own drama.

I’d like to read a book in which the turning point occurs when the parents see their own part, change their own behavior and chronicle in detail the positive effects that has on the rest of the family, the addict included.

I’d like to read a book where the transformation and redemption belongs to the parents. Where the victory is theirs.

Now that would be a book about recovery.


  1. Kathy,
    So true. Maybe you will be the one to write it? I love reading your blog so I know I would love reading your book. You never know....


  2. Let it begin with me...maybe there is a book in you waiting to be written?? ::hugs::


  3. You brought up a good point. There are books, tv shows about addicts/alcoholics. The family is just as sick. Pick up the pen my friend.

  4. I agree with the others. Please start writing and put me down for a dozen books.

  5. You have your work cut out for you, Kathy. You know you can write that book. If you are feeling a pull and a need for a book like that, you could do it. I would buy it.

  6. Kathy I learn so much from what you have to share. Here encouraging you to put down your thoughts. Blessings and hugs.

  7. I did find some recovery in the book by Charles Rubin entitled "Don't Let Your Kids Kill You: A Guide for Parents of Drug and Alcohol Addicted Children". I still think you should write a book though and I will be buying up plenty of copies!!

  8. I agree - that would be a good book to read - you know... I've printed out a lot of your posts... lol I'd read it eagerly if you published! (No pressure of course!)
    Love & hugs!
    God bless.

  9. First of all...I love the word "redemption." Makes my heart do a little jump. :o) And yeah....maybe you will be the one, my dear. I would be one of the first of your fans to purchase it!

  10. It's interesting because even Lois focused so much on Bill W. at the beginning until she found herself as sick or sicker than he was. I think that co-dependency is a terribly difficult thing to change but it can be done. There need to be more books about solutions and not just problems.

  11. I'm so glad you wrote this -- it is very frustrating reading blogs or books focused on a third party with no awareness of the sickness exhibited by partners or family. A codependent is addicted to the sickness of the alcoholic and needs to tell his or her OWN story of reclaiming their lives.

    Mary LA

  12. You certainly nailed that one.

    When my little sister came to live with me, to recover from a 20 year addiction, I thought I would find some helpful and like minded people among parents of addicts. Nothing could be further from the truth. I have been appalled at them. APALLED.

  13. You are absolutely right - that does sound codependent. The moral is not "fix the other person and get well" the moral is "Worry about your own issues and let the chips fall where they may." SOmetimes people have to learn hard lessons and you carrying them along is only going to put off the inevitable - and make you miserable in the process.

    Incidently, there are a lot of excellent books on codependency which would cover exactly what you are talking about here. Pick up anything by Melody Beattie (the first one I read was Codependent No More) and any Al-Anon member will likely find themselves within it's pages - as well as many addicts.

  14. Excellent point. A friend of mine who reads genre fiction (romanc-y stuff) just alerted me to a kerfuffle in the genre-community over a book in which the protagonist puts up with a gambling lover and some very bad behavior. Wouldn't it be interesting if that series showed the heroine's evolution in recovery instead of just being about the lover?