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5 Great Books for Substance Abuse Counselors

Substance abuse may be one of the biggest public health crises the world is facing today. In 2014, the number of drug related overdoses had climbed to 47,055 per year. Alcohol related liver disease was at 18,146 annually. The need for substance abuse counselors is more critical than ever. The following are five must read books for any substance abuse counselor.

1. Clean: Overcoming Addiction and Ending America’s Greatest Tragedy

David Sheff writes a brilliant defense of addiction as a disease, and the need to banish the stigma and moralizing that fails to address that. His book is full of statistics, facts, personal stories, research and experience from his time as a professional working with addicts, and the organizations that are supposed to help them. His points about the damaging impact of punishing substance abuse instead of treating it is a blunt condemnation of the current system. While he admits there is no single way to treat addiction, he gives some idea on how to start.

2. Unbroken Brain: A Revolutionary New Way of Understanding Addiction

Writing from a neuroscience perspective, Maia Szalavitz gives a fascinating new theory on the nature of addiction. According to her book, Unbroken Brain, she says that addiction in all forms is not a matter of disease, but a learning disorder. One that falls on a spectrum similar to Autism, and has to be addressed the same way. Her biggest argument is one the flouts the modern belief that there is an “addictive personality”.

3. Motivational Interviewing: Helping People Change

All substance abuse counselors have to know how to motivate people to change damaging patterns of behavior. In the third edition of this book, authors William R. Miller and Stephen Rollnick discuss the technique of motivational interviewing, a practice that helps to shape a patient’s desire to help themselves.

Unlike other books that merely explain the process and the reasons to use it, this volume will give a full framework for implementing the practice. You will learn to be more understanding, compassionate, effective and proactive with your less motivated patients.

4. You Can’t Make Me Angry

Aimed specifically at alcoholics, this book is important for the addiction specialist, as well. It teaches addicts how to accept their emotions, past, and the turbulent process of overcoming substance abuse. It also helps to teach better ways to communicate, and to cope when communication appears to be impossible.

Using Dr Paul O.’s unique style, substance abuse counselors can gain a better understanding of their patient’s struggles with daily interactions. They can also use the information to begin instructing those same patient’s with better ways to manage their feelings, and improve communication within a therapy setting.

5. Rewired: A Bold New Approach To Addiction and Recovery

Rewired by Erica Spiegelman is a self-actualization book that encourages addicts to learn the power of their own mind and self to bring themselves from the edge of ruin. It focuses on a holistic approach to healing and sobriety, addressing the spiritual, emotional and mental aspects of breaking free of their addiction.

Substance abuse therapists can learn a new way to help their patients by looking beyond the addiction itself. Instead, you will look at the wider picture of their life, past, sense of self, needs, fears and more.

Related Resource: The Top 10 Online Counseling Degree Programs

If we are going to beat this menace, we will need all of the help we can get. These five books are great for any professionals who want to strengthen their skills in substance abuse counseling. Together we can solve this crisis.