10 Best Contemporary Novels about Addiction

Posted on October 10, 2014 By

10 Best Contemporary Novels about Addiction

Here’s a list of the 10 best contemporary novels about addiction. Check them out. Reading, writing, and taking some personal time in recovery isn’t necessarily isolating. Sometimes we all just need to recharge our batteries.

#1. Less Than Zero – Bret Easton Ellis

Written back in 1985, this was the critically-acclaimed first novel of then 21-year-old Ellis, who was still a student in college.

Clay, a rich young college student who’s come home to the decadent Los Angeles of the 1980s, reunites with friends and embarks on a series of drug-fueled nights of partying, during which he picks up various men and women for one-night stands.

Clay’s narration describes his growing alienation from the party scene, his loss of faith in his friends, and the apathy of his friends towards the suffering of one another and those around them: at one party, he watches as partygoers make light of heavy situations; for instance taking Polaroids of his friend, Muriel, while she shoots heroin.

Ellis was considered to be before his time, virtually inventing the likes of Paris Hilton and the Kardashians.

10 Best Contemporary Novels about Addiction

#2. Rule of the Bone – Russell Banks

Chapman (Chappie) Dorset is a 14-year-old kid who’s used to relying on himself to get by: Chappie sells drugs. Abused by his stepfather, Chappie decides to leave home and strike out on his own. After adopting the name Bone, he finds himself in various living situations—with a biker gang, squatting in an empty summer house and then living in a school bus with an illegal Jamaican immigrant. The two eventually head to Jamaica together.

Violent and disturbing in parts, Banks explores the themes of home, flight and family from the skewed perspective a narrator who is both innocent and criminally-minded. This contradiction raises pertinent questions: Is addiction something we’re born with? Are we the product of nature or nurture (or both)? Are there some situations that are completely inescapable? Indeed, there are no easy answers.

10 Best Contemporary Novels about Addiction

#3. Money – Martin Amis

Film director John Self is so weighed down by dealing with the day-to-day drama of trying to get his film made while living a double life: pursuing his hedonistic pleasures. Released in 1984, it’s become both a postmodern classic and a touchstone of the decadence and excess of the 80s. At its heart, though, Money is an addiction novel about a world where ‘more’ is never enough and possibly the only road to salvation is to lose everything.

10 Best Contemporary Novels about Addiction

#4. Party Girl – Anna David

Amelia is a celebrity journalist always looking for her big break, willing to do anything to make that happen. After a stint in rehab, she’s ready to say ‘no’ to alcohol and drugs but doesn’t feel the need to abandon her say ‘yes’ attitude, immediately accepting an assignment to cover what the publishers assume is her party-heavy lifestyle. At first, Amelia’s confident she can stay sober while recalling episodes of her former for ideas to produce, but soon finds herself caught in the middle of a ‘Who am I without alcohol or drugs’ identity crisis that pretty much any alcoholic or addict can identify with. In between active addiction and recovery, Amelia is hopeful, funny, frightened, and just trying not to mess up.

The novel deals with the common confusion of that post-rehab period, where many of us are just trying to navigate life without substances. It’s a rarely explored topic in addiction fiction but handled quite well in Party Girl.

10 Best Contemporary Novels about Addiction

#5. Rachel’s Holiday – Marian Keyes

Rachel wakes up to the realization that her roommate has called her parents, who insist that shes get on the next plane and head straight to rehab. Rachel’s ambivalence is on-point: she simultaneously realizes she needs help and yet wishes she didn’t. Someone who cleans up well and also has deep lifelong depression, which she realizes is at the heart of her addiction. Rachel’s thoughts while in rehab are poignant and relative to the experience we have when we come to terms with denial: Why did this happen to me? Is it my family’s fault? Will I ever date? Will I ever have friends? Will I ever be okay?

For anyone who’s ever worried they might be out of control and even more terrified to deal with that worry, this novel is made approachable through the humor and plucky courage of the main character.

10 Best Contemporary Novels about Addiction

#6. A Fan’s Notes – Frederick Exley

The story addresses the typical territory for the genre of the addiction novel: Mental institutions, rehab, figuring out what old family drama may have contributed to the current state of affairs. Life throughout the ‘50s and ‘60s involves football hero Frank Gifford and the author (the book is written as a memoir). He and Gifford were college classmates but, after graduation, Gifford enjoys celebrity on the football field while Exley is in the stands cheering him on. It becomes clear that in life, there are winners and there are losers. Exley – and every addict – asks “Why?” The familiarity of the struggle, regardless of the details, and the excellence of the writing, makes A Fan’s Notes compelling to read.

10 Best Contemporary Novels about Addiction

#7. Bright Lights, Big City – Jay McInerney

Sometimes the hardest part of sobriety is reminding yourself that the days of all-night partying weren’t really that awesome. McInerney’s main character has the self-awareness to know all is not well but not nearly enough of what it takes to do soemthing about it—except to push forward, perhaps subconsciously realizing that the only way to find relief is to hit rock bottom.

10 Best Contemporary Novels about Addiction

#8. In the Drink – Kate Christensen

The protagonist, Claudia Steiner, is the character we all know or have once been: The one ordering her fifth or sixth drink of the night while being fully aware it’s not helping anything, not really. The one who’s a little too self-aware for her own good, and who, realizes that being 29, single, and marginally unemployed is a condition that can’t last forever, only getting worse if she doesn’t do something about it.

10 Best Contemporary Novels about Addiction

#9. Trainspotting – Irvine Welsh

That’s right, Trainspotting was a novel before it was a movie. Focusing on a group of Scottish friends grappling with their relationship with heroin, the novel is surprisingly funny, interlacing cringe-worthy vignettes of the downsides of drug use with flashes of revelation and genuine despair. it does make one question how much of addiction is a result of being in the wrong place at the wrong time while showing how much society creates and perpetuates a culture where people are dependent on drugs.

10 Best Contemporary Novels about Addiction

#10. Wake Up, Sir! – Jonathan Ames

The narrator, Blair, is a 30-something writer who hasn’t written in years, experiencing a push-pull persona that many addicts are all too familiar with. After gaining a small fortune from a slip-and-fall accident and subsequent lawsuit, Blair hires a personal valet named Jeeves who helps him with his daily tasks, like waking up and reminding him to shave. It’s ridiculous and that’s the whole point. Alcoholism is the common thread throughout the novel and, as Jeeves reacts to Blair’s drunken scrapes with a nonchalant “Very good, Sir,” the reader can’t help but wonder whether Jeeves is really real or just the inner voice of an alcoholic in active denial.

Struggling with a substance abuse disorder? Is it alcoholism? Or another drug addiction? Help is available. Call toll-free 1-800-777-9588 to speak with an Addiction Specialist. We’re available around the clock to answer your call.

New Movement Gives Up Anonymity to Take Stigma Out of Addiction

Posted on October 9, 2014 By

New Movement Gives Up Anonymity to Take Stigma Out of Addiction

Public opinion on the disease of addiction is by far misinformed and widely unnoticed as an idea based on stigma and stereotypes. Just the word addiction often stirs the imagination of those who are unfamiliar with the illness to draw all types of conclusions based on everything from racial and cultural differences to things like appearance and upbringing, but most importantly are the assumptions made about the character of people in recovery from addiction. I Am Not Anonymous is a movement that is committed to breaking the stigma of addiction and substance abuse, and has gained a fair amount of momentum as it covers some ground to raise awareness.

The “I Am Not Anonymous” Mission Statement

The movement I AM Not Anonymous (IANA) has a website dedicated to showcasing featured portraits of people in recovery from substance abuse disorder and addiction, and along with their representation on social media site Facebook they have included a mission statement which reads:

“For years, those suffering from addiction have done so in silence as a result of the negative stigma surrounding it. The truth is, people DO recover. Our mission is to bring the SOLUTION into the conversation in hopes of helping the millions of people who remain untreated and help the world understand that addiction is not a moral failing. It is a powerful disease and the stigma associated with it is just as deadly as the disease itself.”

The site also features the inspiring accounts and experiences of all the individuals that have so far been featured on the site, including the personal stories of both the founders. Many of these stories carry a familiar message of hope and inspiration, and so far almost every quote or cliché you here at most Anonymous fellowships has been included in the stories, making it feel a little like that same intention of carrying the message is definitely still there somewhere.

The Founders

Recovering heroin addict Tom Goris and his partner Kate Meyer who is a professional photographer are the two who put this new and innovative program together. Recently there was an story on the movement where the two founders gave interviews about their growing belief in the cause. Kate Meyer stated,

“Not only is it empowering people in recovery to share their stories and open up doors to help other people who are still sick and suffering, but it helps that person to feel like they’re not so alone and that there is hope.”

Tom Goris also made a personal point to talk about his story being his own inspiration to get the ball rolling on this, and what he feels it means to the recovery community.

“It gives and education, a message of hope, and says we’re not putting up with this stigma anymore, because this is who we really are.”

“I Am Not Anonymous” so far has not made any attempt to push any specifics about fellowships, or even come across too preaching in any extent. There is in fact a variety of opinions and outlooks expressed on their page which ranges in age, sex, race and length of sobriety. This diverse look at recovery through the stories and lives connected to some of the faces out of the billions in recovery in motivated simply to change the misconception. To take the sting out of the stigma by making it clear that the disease of addiction can touch any life anywhere. And that not every addict looks like what television and movies might show you.

Some people may be worried about IANA being associated with other fellowships, or might feel it is wrong to blatantly go against the point of anonymity in recovery, but at the end of the day these people are choosing to sacrifice their own anonymity for a cause they feel is worth the prices they pay. Breaking your own anonymity is up to you, some people may wonder if they would, or if they would rather hold out.

Either way with the growing concern in society about the dangers of addiction and epidemics of dangerous narcotics, this is one crusade that is sure to gain some attention. The disease of addiction claims too many lives out of the fear of stigma, too many addicts and alcoholics die because they are afraid of being judged, and they never get the help that is there and the solution they deserve. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-777-9588


The Brain-Gut Connection and Anxiety

Posted on October 8, 2014 By

The Brain-Gut Connection and Anxiety

Are you taking a daily probiotic? Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet? If you couldn’t already tell, this article might get a little personal. After all, we’re talking about the health of your gut and if you’re ‘regular.’

Understanding the mind-body-spirit connection is essential to good physical health and mental well-being. That’s why holistic treatment, whether for a physical ailment, mood disorder, or substance abuse disorder has been found to be the most effective approach for treating what ails you.

And science is showing us that promoting good digestive health is a crucial piece in the treatment puzzle. Research shows that the bacteria in your gut can directly affect your behavior and emotions. This might be surprising for many and often overlooked by even healthcare providers when it comes to treating issues of mental health, such as anxiety.

The Brain-Gut Connection and Anxiety

So, just how connected are the brain and gut? First of all, the two are actually physically connected by way of the large vagus nerve, which keeps the brain and gut in constant communication with one another. Therefore, there is actually something to be said for having a “gut feeling” or feeling butterflies in your stomach.

Researchers in Ireland found that when the vagus nerve in mice was severed, they no longer saw the brain respond to changes to the beneficial bacteria in the rodents’ bowelsScientists have also begun to study certain neurochemicals that they are finding to be produced by certain bacteria. The implication is this: that gut microbes can produce their own version of neurotransmitters, such as those found in the brain (i.e. dopamine, serotonin). This is another way that gut microbes might be communicating with the brain. Therefore, having a healthy gut means having a healthy mind.

What You Can Do to Manage Anxiety

There are all-natural ways to manage your anxiety. Consider these 4 suggestions:

#1. Eat more ‘whole’ foods

Choose fruits, veggies, whole grains, beans, and lean proteins.  Limit your intake processed foods, sugar, alcohol and caffeine. Start with small changes. Order a sweet potato instead of fries, eat only half of your dessert, get the steak instead of the burger – so you’re not tempted to eat the bun. The changes should feel do-able, not overwhelming or anxiety-producing.

#2. Increase your self-awareness

Pay attention to what you’re eating and portion size. Take note of how you feel after eating. Notice whether you experience fatigue, bloating, anxiety, gas, reflux or any other symptoms and what foods you ate prior to those symptoms. This will allow you to pinpoint patterns and become aware of what foods don’t agree with you. Continually eating foods that cause undesirable symptoms can be causing damage your delicate digestive lining and balance of good bacteria. Consider keeping a food diary for at least a week that details what you’re eating and how you feel each time afterwards.

#3. Eat foods rich in probiotics

These include yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and other fermented foods. Probiotics are organisms such as bacteria or yeast that are thought to improve health. It’s always best to get all your nutrients from foods but, they are also supplements you can take.

#4. Reduce Stress

The digestive lining is actually very thin and stress can damage it. That’s how ulcers form. Practice relaxation techniques, such as meditation and breathing exercises, use positive self-talk and engage in activities that you really enjoy. Managing stress will help you to heal from the inside out and also reduce your symptoms of anxiety.

If you struggle with an anxiety disorder, even with making healthy lifestyle changes, seeking professional help is of the utmost importance. Your mental healthcare provider might suggest therapy, alone, or combined with medication, depending on your situation. Antidepressants and other psychiatric medications can support you in your recovery from alcoholism or addiction because, silently suffering with a mood disorder is counter-productive to living healthy and sober. Call toll-free 1-800-777-9588 if you’re struggling and want help. You are not alone.

Buddhist Advice on Smartphone Addiction

Posted on October 7, 2014 By

Buddhist Advice on Smartphone Addiction

It’s 2014, the new iPhone just came out, things like texting and social media are such common place they are quickly being considered potential addiction, and digital devices like iPads and smartphones have their hooks in billions of people from every walk of life. I have my phone in my hand texting right now, and I’m sure I’ll be using it in about .2 seconds to check my Facebook.

Some potentially addictive substances have many benefits when they are used correctly responsibly. Some medications help many people, but when an addict gets there hands on it, it can be abused to the extent it can be considered a dangerous poison. What is becoming more obvious in today’s society is that the smartphone and other technology is quickly become one of these items that can be pushed beyond the technologies intended use to obsessive abuse.

A Monks Idea of Addiction

Pomnyun Sunim, a Korean Buddhist monk and global humanitarian leader feels that the growing addiction to technology is a certainty, and recently in an interview stated,

”iPads are great,[But] they’re only great if you can use them without becoming too attached or fixated. And as many of us know, this isn’t always an easy thing to do.”

Pomnyun does not however blame the devices themselves, as many people who have spoken up in the past urging people to unplug from this metaphorical matrix.

”There’s no value judgment. The bad thing is if you’re obsessed over it every day.”

Pomnyun went on to share his recommendations for addressing the obsession on technology, and these suggestions sound an awful lot like any other drug rehabilitation program. The monk suggested someone dealing with an addiction to technology go on a digital detox period.

”It is good for us to be free from habit or addiction, because you become a slave to the object or technology. It’s good to take a step back to examine yourself. Test yourself, and see how you react—from a third person—when you go without technology for a whole weekend. If you’re always curious and trying to hold yourself off, then you know that you’re addicted.”

Pomnyun also recommended detoxing from other addictions as well. For one day, he suggests leaving the house with no cash or credit cards. This may seem a little bit more hazardous for some of us, but in reality is another way to test our self-reliance.

In Buddhist doctrine, these collective dependencies are called “karma” and they can hold dominion our lives. According to Pomnyun becoming more aware of our behaviors can help us extricate ourselves from our harmful and inhibiting habits and find peace of mind.

“Addiction is something natural that happens to the brain when we do something repeatedly,” he says. “That cognitive habit—and the whole scheme of cognitive habits—is called karma. That karma becomes your master. So it’s that karma, or group of habits, that is leading you. So it’s very important to practice freeing yourself from that karma.”

So at the end of the day, what this monk is trying to tell us is that the best way to free ourselves from the obsession always begins with a cleansing. Abstinence is the key to gaining continuous freedom from any obsession, and addiction is the same. Because once we free ourselves from the string that attach us to the substance, we are able to experience new freedom and happiness. Because karma does not need Wifi.

Addiction comes in all shapes and sizes, and so do those who get addicted to the things that hold them back and restrict their lives. It does not take a high priest or Buddhist monk to break free of an addiction, but it does take the willingness to get the right help. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-777-9588. We want to help. You are not alone. 

Michael Phelps: Olympian Ready for Rehab

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Michael Phelps: Olympian Ready for Rehab

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Earlier last week I wrote an article about how Michael Phelps was again finding himself under fire for another one of his exploits related to substance abuse, which has gotten him a lot of media attention over the past several days. After being charged with his second DUI in 10 years the American swimmer and 18 time Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps has decided it’s time to check himself into rehab. Phelps made a public statement expressing his desire to seek help for his substance abuse in a series of tweets this past Sunday.

“I recognize that this is not my first lapse in judgment, and I am extremely disappointed with myself,” he wrote. “I’m going to take some time away to attend a program that will provide the help I need to better understand myself.”

Late Tuesday morning of last week, September 30th 2014 Phelps was pulled over after being clocked doing 84 mph in a 45 mph zone in Baltimore, Maryland. He was pulled over in his white Land Rover around 1:40 am and the officer on the scene noticed right away that he was “under the influence,” according to the police report when he was arrested for drunk driving. It was stated in some of the earliest media reports that he supposedly bombed his field sobriety test, and was in no shape to be behind the wheel at all.

A few days later is was publicly confirmed that Phelps had blew a .14 on a breathalyzer, which is almost twice the legal limit. According to recent reports, Michael Phelps had been on an eight-hour gambling binge the night of the incident. Obviously poker was not the only binge he went on that day, joining the list of stars to recklessly drive under the influence.

Given the nature of Phelp’s situation and the fact that he has been in trouble before for drunk driving, as well as earned plenty of media attention for the ‘water pipe’ pictures of him holding a bong typically used for smoking marijuana or tobacco after getting noticed for his Olympic accomplishments, we can only hope that he takes his time in rehab seriously. Hopefully Phelps does what is necessary for his future, and takes into account the lives at risk driving drunk. If he truly wants his recovery, he undoubtedly has the determination to get it based on his award winner track record.

Recovery from drugs and alcohol doesn’t take an Olympic athlete life-style, but sobriety is far beyond any gold medal for most addicts and alcoholics who know the reality of active addiction, and the impact it can have on the things you love most. If you or someone you loves is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-777-9588