Addiction Section

cover: Spiritual Recovery Manual for Addicts, Co-dependents and Adult Children of Alcoholic and other Dysfunctional Families

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Part One:

Part Two:
Mental Health

Part Three:
The Advanced Recovery Tools

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  Before you use the tools in The Spiritual Recovery Manual, there are two prerequisites: you need to address active addictions, and you need to take care of your mental health. Let's start with addiction.


If you are still in an active addiction, get immediate professional help. Do this first, before you try anything in this book. Don't go it alone. You need outside help -- there is plenty of it available. If you don't know where to go, ask around, or look in the phone book for a counselor, hospital, or professional recovery program.

A federal agency, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), can help you locate treatment facilities. Call them at 800-662-HELP, or use their interactive Web site. Start from the home page ( or go directly to:

You can also call your county's department of alcohol and drug services, which offers free counseling and referrals.

Next, find people -- for example, the members of a Twelve Step group -- who are overcoming, or have already overcome, your specific problem. There are Twelve Step programs for:

  • addiction -- Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Nicotine Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous, Gamblers Anonymous, Debtors Anonymous, Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous, etc.
  • codependence -- Co-Dependents Anonymous (CoDA)
  • adult children -- ACA (or ACoA) meetings, which are sometimes a subgroup of Al-Anon
  • the families of addicts -- Al-Anon, Alateen, Nar-Anon, etc.

Most Twelve Step organizations have their own Web sites. Examples are:

If none of the above works, call the AA central office listed in your phone book and ask how to get in touch with the Twelve Step group you are interested in.

There are also support groups not based on the Twelve Steps. These include groups for addiction (e.g., LifeRing and Women for Sobriety), mental illness, violence, survivors of abuse and rape, the family of people in prison, and many other difficult situations. Your local newspaper may publish times and locations of meetings.

The American Self-Help Clearinghouse maintains a comprehensive list of support groups. Send them a stamped, self-addressed envelope and ask for their lists of state clearinghouses and self-help groups. If you already know what you are looking for, call and ask for that group's national number. Alternatively, go to the clearinghouse Web site. In a few clicks, you can have meeting times, directions, and a map.

The American Self-Help Clearinghouse
100 Hanover Avenue, Second Floor
Cedar Knolls, NJ 07927
973-326-8853 (9-5 EST M-F)

Those in need of basic information -- perhaps to help a loved one who is addicted -- might want to visit a regional office of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD). They provide information and referrals. NCADD's affiliate offices are well-stocked with addiction literature and videos.

National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence
20 Exchange Place, Suite 2902
New York, NY 10005
800-NCA-CALL (24-hour automated referral to an affiliate)

Where to Find the Latest Research

The following Web sites offer evidence-based information on addiction, including access to large databases of scientific papers:

National Institute on Drug Abuse

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration

SAMHSA publications

The American Society of Addiction Medicine maintains a Web site. Under the banner heading Resource Links are a number of lists of addiction-related sites:

The following site, compiled by a clinical psychologist, has a less technical, more popular approach:

Useful Books

I recommend all the recovery books mentioned in the first few chapters of this book. If you want a second opinion, look at reader reviews on Barnes & Noble or Amazon's Web sites. To get an overview of addiction and treatment read The Selfish Brain by Robert DuPont, founding director of the National Institute of Drug Abuse. If your problem is alcohol related, consider Anne Fletcher's Sober for Good. She takes the approach of a journalist, interviewing dozens of people who succeeded in recovery, to find out what worked for them. Sober for Good has extensive lists of resources, many of them specialized and beyond the scope of this book.

There are a number of sources for books on recovery. One is Hazelden ( or 800-328-9000). Most of their books are aligned with the Twelve Steps. For alcoholism, explore the Betty Ford Center's recommendations in their online store (

Finding a Doctor

In chapter 8, I suggested you get a checkup-a routine physical examination-from a regular medical doctor before you go for an ayurvedic evaluation. If you are going to see a doctor, you might as well go to one who knows about addiction and is therefore more likely to understand your medical history. The American Society of Addiction Medicine ( can make a referral. Call them at 301-656-3920.

Another option, one I encourage, is to look for an M.D. specializing in integrative or holistic medicine, or work with a naturopathic doctor. These practitioners, familiar with alternative medicine, spend more time with each patient, evaluating each person's unique situation, exploring options beyond side-effect engendering pharmaceuticals.

How to find such a doctor: they often advertise in the phone book; there are as well a number of online directories which can be found by searching on the above terms.

Smoking Cessation

Obviously, quitting smoking isn't required to use the advanced recovery tools, but there's no time like the present. So stop. Right now. Just quit.

If you relapse, that's okay. The next step is to buy a couple of books -- to understand nicotine addiction and your path out of it -- and then design a personal recovery program. Support groups also help. Armed with the weapon of new knowledge, go back into battle. Books to use as a point of departure include Kicking Butts by the American Cancer Society, You Can Stop Smoking by Jacquelyn Rogers and Julie Rubenstein, The No-Nag, No-Guilt, Do-It-Your-Own Way Guide to Quitting Smoking by Tom Ferguson, and The American Lung Association 7 Steps to a Smoke Free Life. There a many others, some of them quite innovative and effective.

Research shows your chances of successfully quitting are increased by: support groups, individual counseling, involving your doctor, and finding some way to lessen the impact of acute withdrawal symptoms. Research also shows that, even without prior intention to quit, if you learn the Transcendental Meditation technique, after a year of regular meditation, you have a 50 percent chance of having spontaneously quit smoking.

Other researchers recommend that if you now smoke, or have ever smoked, you should take antioxidants; by so doing, you will significantly reduce your risk of cancer. Amrit Kalash, from MAPI, is one of the most powerful antioxidants available.

The World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control, and the Surgeon General have all issued reports on the dangers of smoking. You have no excuse not to quit. Here are Web sites with practical information:

Eating Disorders

The following organizations provide information (and referrals) for individuals and families dealing with eating disorders:

National Eating Disorders Association
Informational and Referral Program
603 Stewart Street, Suite 803
Seattle, WA 98101

National Association of Anorexia
Nervosa and Associated Disorders
P.O. Box 7
Highland Park, IL 60035
847-831-3438 (hotline)

The National Institute of Health's Web site on eating disorders is:

Additional Resources

Additional books and Internet resources you may find useful.

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