Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Recovery from Addiction: A Practical Guide to Treatment, Self-Help, and Quitting on Your Own



By William Cloud and Robert Granfield ISBN: 0-8147-1608-3

Reviewed by Diane Jeanette


Having buried interesting material in an impenetrable scholarly style in their first book, [Coming Clean] Granfield and Cloud (now Cloud and Granfield) proceeded to dish out pedestrian material in a wooden style in their second book, Recovery from Addiction. Presumably, what they started out to write was a how-to book on natural recovery -- an expansion of the miniature self-help guide they included in Coming Clean as an appendix. Why they, or their editors, decided that two authors with no liking for traditional treatment should combine a discussion of natural recovery with a plodding guide to traditional treatment is anyone's guess.

In addition, the authors were clearly ordered to offend no one in the treatment community (the largest potential market for "recovery books"). The result is Part One of this book, which contains little that is specific enough to be useful, although there is a nice short guide to alternative methods and their websites. You can learn, with some effort at parsing rambling sentences, that most inpatient treatment is 12step, that some people don't like AA because it seems religious to them, and that insurers would rather pay for outpatient treatment because it is cheaper. All of this in a style rather worse than the average email.

Here are Cloud and Granfield on the "group interview" process at a therapeutic community: "The experience can be more of a function of who happens to be a resident at the time of the interview than on [sic] the ability of the applicant to demonstrate a need for and willingness to comply with treatment demands." Here are Cloud and Granfield on estimating addiction severity: "If you or the person your [sic] are attempting to help are regularly injecting drugs, chances are that you or that person has a fairly serious problem or will soon have one if injection continues."

The authors themselves seem to suspect that they have not contributed much to the topic. At the opening of chapter 8, "Selecting an Approach that is Best for You", they actually warn the reader twice on the same page to go back and read the beginning of the book: "Before starting, we want to emphasize the importance of your having familiarized yourself with the other material presented earlier in this book. While you may find the suggestions offered in this chapter helpful without exposure to that content, these recommendations will be of limited value if you have not read chapter 2 through 7....If you are seeking assistance for another person....your friends, relatives and neighbors who might provide this kind of information are generally unaware of the serious kinds of treatment and self-help issues discussed in chapters 2 through 7." This chapter does contain a useful list of 10 questions to ask a treatment provider, but you deserve a medal if you manage to read that far.

Part Two, "Quitting on Your Own," is somewhat better. Much of it is lifted wholesale from the Appendix to Coming Clean, but as few people will persevere to the end of that volume, this makes little difference. Cloud and Granfield are encouraging about self-recovery, and make sensible suggestions concerning such subjects as "health and nutrition" (pay attention to it), "work" (do interesting work if you can get it), "physical exercise" (helps a great deal in early recovery) and "insomnia" (don't lose sleep over it). Granfield and Cloud are especially sensitive to the problem of stigma and the reluctance of people to identify themselves as addicts, and they offer some commonsense advice on disclosure. Their comments on "the Challenge of Moderation" are cautious, and respect their research results. Part Two, taken alone, is certainly not a complete guide to self-recovery, but it is a pretty good introduction.

The authors thank their editor, which makes them either the most courteous or the most oblivious of authors. The book is execrably edited throughout: principle for principal, discrete for discreet, and lack of attention to subject/verb agreement. The founder of Addiction Alternatives, Dr. Marc Kern, is "Marc Fern" in the text and "Mark Kern" on the cover blurb. And the endorsement from Jeffrey Schaler, while enthusiastic, has nothing to do with the actual book, which should have been apparent had he even read the subtitle. There was a very good book in there somewhere. I wish the authors had written it.

(Also see my review of "Coming Clean" by these same authors)

1 comment:

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