Doctor and former patient join forces in this guide to kicking addictions, from heroin to shopping. Woolverton has worked with addicts for 25 years...When he quit smoking he gained crucial insight: "I had to let myself suffer... and figure out what the pain was trying to tell me." Woolverton bolsters his argument by noting that's why 12-Step programs work. Addicts "need to be told stop right now or they might die;" afterword self-exploration supports lasting recovery. Coauthor Shapiro can attest... 10 years ago, Woolverton helped her quit alcohol, marijuana, and cigarettes. She's since published seven books... Woolverton's willingness to share his own personal struggles add authenticity. Those stories and their positive message, with the authors' concrete steps for identifying destructive behaviors and seeking help, make for a valuable, hopeful read.
A self-help therapy book aimed at stopping addictive behavior...By working through a series of tests and checklists, readers can characterize their own behaviors and determine if they are becoming addicts. The authors offer numerous solutions ...Woolverton and Shapiro pull no punches in stating that overcoming addiction is difficult...Using examples of patients who have moved beyond their pain, readers will see that conquering an addiction is possible with determination and perseverance. A solid multistep system for overcoming addiction.
At the start of every new year, the media and everyone in our lives are talking about resolutions. Enter Unhooked: How to Quit Anything by addiction therapist Dr. Frederick Woolverton and author (and Woolverton's former patient) Susan Shapiro. I was lucky enough to get an advanced copy, which I'm working through right now. While I'm not an avid reader of books in the self-help category, I like that this one deals with a variety of bad habits without making the distinction between “hard” (i.e. drugs) and “soft” (i.e. Internet) addictions, but instead focuses on how they are all signs of some larger issue. Dr. Woolverton writes: “Whether it is a sweet dessert, Xanax, pot, nightly mint juleps, or too many weekend jaunts to Atlantic City, I have found that the specific substance or obsessive habit itself is of less importance than the chaotic and scary emotions that the substance is being used to regulate and repress.” While the book covers everything from smoking, alcohol, food, gambling, Internet, drug and sex addictions, I found the part on overeating particularly interesting and relevant.
What gives Unhooked its credibility is that both authors share their personal stories of addiction and how they used the techniques they write about to unhook themselves. Shapiro, a one-time patient of her co-author, admits to being addicted to book deals. Before her career could consume her, she cut back on freelance to do charity work. Most the stories are case studies of Woolverton’s very relatable patients.
Psychobabble-free, Unhooked offers compassionate and common-sense advice. If you’re trying to drop a few pounds, stay out of the bakery. Want to beat gambling? Stop hanging out with those who are “in it to win it.” Then there’s my favorite: Have a get-away excuse at the ready in case you find yourself in the company of people unsupportive of your new lifestyle choice. Other ways to help yourself: therapists, 12-step programs, hotlines, volunteer opportunities—help yourself by helping others—and classes to redirect your energies. The book addresses why people relapse, which boils down to never really getting to the bottom of what hole your habit is trying to fill. Woolverton says that after some success staying clean, people will test themselves, wanting to believe they’re in control and can have “just one." Before you sit down to your nightly, mesmerizing six-hour Facebook routine, decide to make it only three and use the rest of the time to write in a journal, rearrange a closet or read a book (like Unhooked), because nothing will change unless you change something.
Lorraine Duffy Merkl