Monday, May 3, 2010

Rewriting Life Scripts: Transformational Recovery for Families of Addicts

Liliane Desjardins, Nancy Oelklaus, Irene Watson
Life Scripts Press (2010)
ISBN 9781932690972
Reviewed by Carol Hoyer, PhD, for Reader Views

I can honestly say that in all the time I have been a Psychologist working in the substance abuse field, I have never found a book that covered all the topics families need to know about recovery in one place. The authors have written this book in a format that is easy to understand and read. They cover so many topics about addiction, recovery, misconceptions and family roles that one would end up highlighting the whole book.

There are seventeen chapters in this book which cover topics such as the family process, psychological tendencies of the addicted to how families' unrealistic expectations put everyone in the down spiral again.  I am a firm believer, like the authors, that families do not understand the addiction process or the underlying problems that might start it. Nor do many families receive treatment for themselves. As the authors state, even if the addict gets help it is important for family members and friends to learn new ways of living their life. This book dispels the myth that I hear so many times from my college students that if the addict had willpower, they could stop.


There are several parts of the book that I really appreciated. One is Higher Power. Many of those going into treatment get upset with thinking they have to rely on God to help them in the process of becoming clean. In short, Higher Power is really what motivates a person to make changes.  The information on co-dependency was very informative, as were the roles we take on in our families of origin which often follow us through our adult lives. Each role is broken down into what the addicted person is thinking and what they present to others in their outside appearance.


Chapter 7 discusses The Authentic Self. If we can't be honest with ourselves, how are we going to be honest with the addict? This chapter also will have readers questioning: What need is met for me by keeping the dysfunction going? The authors also discuss boundaries, which many of us have a hard time putting into place.


Throughout the book, the authors provide simple exercises one can do in the privacy of their own home, and then discuss the impact of these answers on the family or individual.  It is important to note that one important part of this chapter is the Grief Inventory, for when we lose a family member to addiction, regardless of what it is, we do go through a grief process.


The remainder of chapters discusses surrender- we cannot change others, we can only change ourselves. I think this is one of the hardest things for individuals to realize. I can say from my own personal experience of living with a family of alcoholics my family expected me to get my brothers to change and when I said "I can't," they would be angry with me. We have to learn that we can only change the things we have control over, we have to learn to let go and let the addicted person figure out situations on their own.  It may cause many tears, anger and resentment; however, that individual needs to learn to be responsible for their choices.


There are so many things in this book that will help families become better informed and lead them to resources that will help and help them learn to live a peaceful life. We will always worry about family members or even friends who are addicted to something. But, this book gives us step-by-step tips on how to take care of ourselves as well as the addict.

I wish, as a Psychologist, I had this book years ago; not only would it have helped my clients, but my family as well. This is a book that I will recommend to my college students to have in their resource library, as well as make a recommendation for this to be a required book for my Substance Abuse classes.  Readers will appreciate the honesty and information provided in an all-in-one book, "Rewriting Life Scripts: Transformational Recovery for Families of Addicts."

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