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Beyond Addiction: How Science and Kindness Help People Change Paperback – December 30, 2014
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Leading innovators in progressive addiction treatment outline a science-based program for overcoming addiction-related problems, demonstrating how to effectively use positive reinforcement and motivational and behavioral strategies.
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This book is not another "old school" book on addiction that tells families they have to force their loved one into rehab and totally detach from them. It's not another "tough love" book. Instead it teaches you how you can play an active, important role in affecting change in your loved one. Yes, you can actually *help* your loved one get better by using CRAFT (Community Reinforcement and Family Training): "a scientifically supported, evidence-based, clinically proven approach to helping families of substance abusers." According to the book, "CRAFT has three goals: 1.) to teach you skills to take care of yourself; 2.) to teach you skills you can use to help your loved one change; and 3.) to reduce substance use, period, whether your loved one gets formal treatment or not."
I won't lie to you. Some of the strategies in Beyond Addiction may come as a shock to you if you're used to reading and hearing about the old school approaches to addiction, which frequently tell us that we are helpless when it comes to assisting a loved one. The book's subtitle itself--"How Science and Kindness Help People Change"--should give you a clue that this book is very different. Using kindness to help a substance user change? Seriously?? Yes! And the authors explain the concept very thoroughly.
Beyond Addiction actually teaches family members and friends how to become empowered and make a huge difference in a substance user's life, using an actual plan. The book is broken down into four parts: What to Know; How to Cope; How to Help; and Live Your Life. You can choose to read the book in order or skip around, depending on what parts you think are most important to you at any given time. There are also interesting sidebars entitled "Good News" and "What's Hard About This." (I especially appreciated the "What's Hard About This" explanations, which are very clear, concise, and informative.)
This positive, science-based guide to helping a loved one was fascinating to me. It was incredibly refreshing to read an optimistic and compassionate approach to addiction treatment. (Note: CRAFT can also be used to motivate and reinforce change in other behaviors, too.) I wish this book was around a few years ago when my wife and I were first dealing with our son's addiction. It would've been fabulous to have been able to try the plan detailed in Beyond Addiction. I'm sure a lot of the verbal battles we had with our son back then could have been avoided.
If you have a loved one who is struggling with addiction or other compulsive behaviors, I highly recommend picking this book up. As it says on the inside flap, "This guide is designed not only to help someone change, but to help someone *want* to change." It's also full of hope, and that's a wonderful thing.
Do you wonder Why Do People Change? How Do People Change? Some of the other chapters are just as helpful: Start Where You Are, Self-Care, Have Your Limits, Start Where They Are, Goals, Reinforcement: The Driver of Change, and Consequences. I wish everyone could read the concise and powerful chapter on Positive Communication -- I believe it has the potential to revolutionize our relationships. I've memorized the Seven Elements of Positive Communication and try to review them daily and whenever I'm having a 'higher stakes' conversation. With these communication skills, I feel calmer and more empowered and it is easier to listen and really try to understand the other person.
I have given a copy of this book to almost every member of my family and asked them to start just by reading the chapter on Positive Communication, explaining that although this book has the word 'addiction' in the title, it really has something for all of us who want to learn how to change our own negative behaviors and habits and understand how to connect with and motivate others to make positive changes for themselves.
Knowing this book and this information is in the world really makes me glad to be alive today. If I could, I would buy a copy for every person who is hurting and say, there is hope for change -- hope for yourself, and for your loved ones.