What’s on Your Recovery Bookshelf?

Guest blog by Ted Perkins, Facilitator and “Tips & Tools Guy”

Successful recovery from any addiction is a holistic process that  involves  not  just SMART  Recovery meetings, but also social support from friends and loved ones,  perhaps  professional  mental  health  support, and self-guided learning. A great way to learn about your addiction and  successful  recovery in general, is to read through SMART Recovery’s free on line resources and Toolbox exercises, watch our excellent YouTube videos, purchase our Handbook, and also read books.

Whereas in past decades the number of books available for purchase about addiction were less prevalent, today the publishing industry’s Addiction & Recovery genre is a thriving marketplace that features hundreds of helpful books to inform, entertain, motivate, and inspire anyone on their recovery journey.

Here is my list of the “Top-5 Books That Helped Me Recover” and a brief explanation of why I found the book useful and informative.

BRAIN BUGS: How the Brain’s Flaws Shape Our Lives by Dean Buonamano

Addiction happens in the external world of course, but it’s also manifested in our  brains.  Addiction  is a feedback loop that has gotten out of control. The more we  understand  the  way our own  brains can  sabotage our “common sense” or “willpower”, the more we may be able to push back and make better decisions.  This book analyzes many of the cognitive biases at work in our brains, and how so much of our decision making is guided by neurological algorithms that run without us even consciously knowing about them.

MEMOIRS OF AN ADDICTED BRAIN: A Neuroscientist Examines his Former Life on Drugs

by Marc Lewis, PhD.

Not only is this a page-turner, it’s a fantastic look at addiction told through the lens of someone who not only lived it, but then went on to study it. Lewis has been featured in several TedTalks, and I had the good fortune of interviewing him for a video I produced about addiction several years ago.  Part gritty memoir, part science paper, this book is a highly progressive, modern look at addiction not as a disease, but as a treatable behavioral disorder.


Mate’s book is considered a must-read in many addiction and recovery communities. He addresses addiction by relating the experiences of several people whom he has treated throughout the years, both successfully and unsuccessfully. The book helps us realize that when it comes to recovery, no one size fits all, and while the mechanics of addiction are identical at a neurological level, each addiction is treatable in different ways.

THIS NAKED MIND by Annie Grace

Grace self-published her book as a way to help process her recovery from an alcohol addiction, never realizing that her manuscript would be picked up by a major publisher and turned into a best-seller. It’s easy to see why. Grace’s stories of her own relationship to alcohol are highly relatable, and the way she approached the solution to her addiction is inspirational. Fans of the book often say “that was me” as she describes her battle with booze.

THE HEART OF ADDICTION: A New Approach to Understanding and Managing Alcoholism and Other Addictive Behaviors by Lance Dodes, M.D.

Why do people repeat behaviors that are clearly problematic? What is it about us humans that drives us towards quick rewards at the cost of long term consequences? Dodes explores these and many other topics from the point of view of both a clinician and a psychologist who helps us better understand the role that emotions play in addiction. He also successfully debunks several myths about addiction and argues for a more open-minded approach to treatment based on hard science, less stigma, and more progressive methodologies besides total abstinence or allowing people to hit rock bottom.


SMART Recovery welcomes comments on our blog posts—we enjoy hearing from you! In the interest of maintaining a respectful and safe community atmosphere, we ask that you adhere to the following guidelines when making or responding to others’ comments, regardless of your point of view. Thank you.

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If you are interested in addiction recovery support, we encourage you to visit the SMART Recovery website.


If you or someone you love is in great distress and considering self-harm, please call 911 for immediate help, or reach out to 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline @ 988, https://988lifeline.org/

We look forward to you joining the conversation!

*SMART Recovery reserves the right to not publish comments we consider outside our guidelines.*

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