By Rick McVicar
Books can be useful tools for those struggling with alcoholism or other substance abuse addictions.
A website sponsored by Rutgers University Library, www.libguides.rutgers.edu, touts the benefits of bibliotherapy, or “guided reading,” for overcoming addictions. The website is a useful resource for finding just the right words to live by if you are struggling with addictions.
Judit Hajmal Ward, in “What is Bibliotherapy?” Aug. 18, 2021, describes how books are used in group therapeutic settings for those struggling with alcoholism. The article is found on another Rutgers website, www.sites.rutgers.edu.
“A good book offering solace, enlightenment and inspiration may become a factor in the healing process,” Ward notes.
Bibliotherapy is a guided approach to reading led by someone who has training in both psychotherapy and literary analysis. A grant from the American Libraries Association provided funds for Rutgers to develop its own bibliotherapy program, called Reading for Recovery (R4R).
The program relies on a group approach to therapy whereby participants are guided through discussions of self-help literature, fiction or poetry. The group leader offers discussion questions and talking points to spark the group’s dialogue. Ward writes that the program follows a “Book Club model.”
“Your reflection and contemplation providing new perspectives will have therapeutic value,” Ward writes.
Books help by providing information and offering different solutions to problems. Books can also present a different set of values and attitudes. With works of fiction, participants can talk about issues found among literary characters rather than discussing their own painful stories that are difficult to share.
The Rutgers library website feature links to www.goodreads.com, where lists of books for recovery can be found. On the Good Reads site, a search for “addiction recovery” will pull up a lengthy list to begin a recovery program.
Some of the books are: Rewired: A Bold New Approach to Addiction and Recovery, by Erica Spiegelman, Joy Road: My Journey from Addiction to Recovery, by Julie Evans, and Crystal Clean: A Mother’s Struggle with Meth Addiction and Recovery, by Kimberly Wolfenburg.
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