Since the disease of addiction affects everyone a bit differently, it can be a valuable component of recovery to learn from others’ experiences in battling substance abuse and emerging stronger on the other side.
As we get ready to celebrate National Read a Book Day this Sept. 6, what are some advantages of reading for pleasure, and what are our top picks for books that can enrich your recovery?
Benefits of Reading for Adults
If you don’t regularly read in your free time, you might be having trouble getting into the habit. Here are some reasons to explore reading as a hobby.
- It’s meditative: Almost any activity can be an opportunity for mindfulness, but reading is a unique form of meditation. If you’ve ever heard anyone describe “getting lost” in a book, it’s because they’ve become so absorbed in what they’re reading that their surroundings fall away and they go adventuring inward.
- It helps broaden your horizons: Reading can expose you to new ideas and challenge long-held points of view. For example, if you’re white, reading a memoir from a person of color can help you understand the inherent privileges you might have taken for granted.
- It lets you use your imagination: Reading can take you anywhere without leaving the comfort of your couch. From the surface of a distant planet to a war-torn village here on Earth, authors have written about every location and situation humanly imaginable.
- It makes you mentally sharper: Few activities put your brain through its paces the way reading can. Unlike watching TV or scrolling through your phone, reading keeps your brain active, which can help fend off mental deterioration like dementia or Alzheimer’s later in life.
- It helps you relax: If you’re feeling stressed, take a break for reading. Choose a subject matter that won’t upset you, and enjoy advantages such as a lower heart rate and reduced tension in your muscles.
Reading to Enrich Your Recovery
Memoirs about addiction are some of the most profoundly emotional reading experiences you can have. These books are often personal and unflinching looks at the downward spiral of addiction, from the earliest days of experimentation with self-destructive behavior to the loneliness, hopelessness and desperation that can characterize a severe addiction.
1. Recovery: Freedom From Our Addictions, by Russell Brand
Comedian and actor Russell Brand looks back on his range of addictions – alcohol, drugs, sex and fame – and what he has learned on his 17-year exploration of recovery. Having learned firsthand that addiction can come in many forms, Brand explains compassionately that remaining sober is an ongoing, one-day-at-a-time journey.
2. Unbroken Brain: A Revolutionary New Way of Understanding Addiction, by Maia Szalavitz
Part memoir, part scientific study, Unbroken Brain represents a challenge to the outdated stigma that addicts are fundamentally flawed. Instead, Szalavitz suggests, addiction is a variety of learning disorder that can develop in response to an extreme situation.
3. Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked, by Adam Alter
Substances are far from the only things people develop addictions to. Alter proposes that Americans have been living in a “golden age” of behavioral addictions – such as scrolling through social media, binge-watching television or responding to emails on our phones – unable to walk away from the devices that keep us constantly entertained and connected. For people in active recovery, Irresistible serves as a crucial reminder not to substitute one addiction with another that may be equally harmful to your physical and emotional well-being.
Make Sober Living Part of Your Aftercare Plan
If you’re newly sober and aren’t sure where to turn after leaving a stay in inpatient rehab, a structured, high-accountability environment could be an ideal living situation for you. At Segue Recovery Support, we can help you avoid a relapse while staying on track with your recovery goals. Learn more today.