From Publishers Weekly
Last year's marvelous book Seeds of Grace: A Nun's Reflection on the Spirituality of Alcoholics Anonymous told the story of one woman's recovery from alcoholism and how she found deep spiritual sustenance in the AA program. Now comes The Soul of Recovery: Uncovering the Spiritual Dimension in the Treatment of Addictions, a sweeping study that describes the role of spirituality in a number of treatment programs. What is special about this book is its broad ethnographic approach; author Christopher Ringwald traveled across the U.S. to seek out the stories of individuals from all walks of life who feel they have recovered from addiction through some kind of spiritual transformation. Ringwald also interviewed doctors, family members and counselors to understand more about the role spiritual belief can play in successful treatment programs. This is an encouraging, well-researched book on an important topic.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
These very different books share the premise that spirituality rather than pharmacology or will power underlies successful recovery from addiction. Both expand on the idea of spirituality beyond the doctrinal and ritualistic form to a wider range of thought. Mindful Recovery flows out of a Buddhist perspective that substitutes the authors' "ten doorways" for the more rigorous 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. Based on research and professional experience, the book argues for "mindfulness," a quality of openness to life's experiences, as a lifestyle for the recovering addict. Presented here are both specific techniques and "practices" (e.g., journaling and meditation) for attaining mindfulness and composite life stories that illustrate various themes. Thomas Bien, a clinical psychologist and lecturer, and Beverly Bien, director of an agency that provides services to the disabled, have written a soothing and sensible self-help book that could be useful to open-minded individuals facing addiction issues. Based on interviews, research reviews, and visits to programs and conferences, The Soul of Recovery is rooted in the Alcoholics Anonymous philosophy, though Ringwald's perspective is more expansive. The author, a reporter for Newsday and director of the Faith and Society Project at the SAGE Colleges in Albany, NY, covers the theoretical relationship between addiction and spirituality; treatment programs (e.g., Hazelden) and specific modalities for women and minorities; the science of addiction and research on effective treatament; and policy implications for recent political initiatives advocating "faith-based" social programs. The result is an impressive, straightforward synthesis of diverse and controversial issues. Both books provide viable alternatives to the "broken brain" thesis of biological psychology/psychiatry. Ringwald's presentation is more analytical, comprehensive, and research based, making it better suited to public and professional libraries. The Biens' book would make a sound addition to specialized collections on alternative approaches to addiction. Antoinette Brinkman, M.L.S., Evansville, IN
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.