The best books for couples recovering from addiction

Christopher Dale Author Of Better Halves: Rebuilding a Post-Addiction Marriage
By Christopher Dale

Who am I?

I’m a husband, father, writer, and recovering addict – and not necessarily in that order. Early in my marriage, I became a full-blown, low-bottom cocaine addict. While it wasn’t surprising that active addiction nearly led to divorce, my wife and I were baffled and discouraged when my newfound sobriety brought its own existential marital issues. Frustratingly, there was a dearth of resources for couples in recovery, especially compared to the ample support available to recovering addicts. As an avid freelance writer, I decided to add to this sparse genre by sharing our struggles, setbacks, and successes en route to a happy, secure marriage. 

I wrote...

Better Halves: Rebuilding a Post-Addiction Marriage

By Christopher Dale,

Book cover of Better Halves: Rebuilding a Post-Addiction Marriage

What is my book about?

Couples who struggle with substance abuse in one or both partners have a divorce rate approaching 50%. Unfortunately, too many of these separations occur after recovery from addiction has commenced. Countless rehabs and support groups are available to help people recover from addictions. By contrast, resources for couples looking to thrive in newfound recovery are scarce.

Recovery brings permanent changes to both those battling substance abuse and their partners. Accepting the loss of the marriage my wife and I enjoyed prior to my cocaine addiction helped us recommit to a “2.0” relationship rooted in candor-driven progress. I wrote Better Halves so couples who find their connection buckling during addiction and recovery have a process and pathway to happily ever after. 

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Alcoholics Anonymous: The Big Book

Why did I love this book?

You can’t stay married if you’re dead. Don’t die. Read this book. 

There’s a reason TIME Magazine included the central text of the world’s most prolific recovery organization on its list of Best 100 Nonfiction Books of All Time: the book that gave AA its name likely has saved more lives than any other singular narrative in the past century.

AA not really for you? Reading Alcoholics Anonymous does not mean joining Alcoholics Anonymous. The themes co-authors Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith discuss – and the Twelve Steps of Recovery in particular – have near-universal relevance to anyone attempting to break the grip of alcohol or drugs.

More than eight decades after its publication, the book offers timeless truths that captivate addicts via ironclad identification. 

By Bill W.,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Alcoholics Anonymous as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Many thousands have benefited from "The Big Book" and its simple but profound explanation of the doctrines behind Alcoholics Anonymous, which was founded in 1935 by Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith. This original 1939 edition outlines the famous 12 steps, and offers counsel for those who wish to join the program but doubt the existence of a higher power. It also contains encouraging personal stories, in which AA members relate their experiences with alcohol and how they found the path to sobriety.
"The Big Book" has gone through numerous editions and remains the most widely used resource for recovering…

Book cover of Loving Someone in Recovery: The Answers You Need When Your Partner Is Recovering from Addiction

Why did I love this book?

Therapist Beverly Berg offers tools for the partners of recovering addicts, who often struggle with reestablishing trust, closeness, and compatibility.

Employing strategies of mindfulness, attachment theory, and neurobiology, Berg helps readers rebuild emotional stability with partners, improve communication, lay boundaries, and take tangible steps toward reigniting intimacy. 

Much of the book's material is drawn from Berg's successful Conscious Couples Recovery Workshop, which is as close to a roadmap as I feel exists for partners trying to move forward post-addiction. Berg has over three decades in her field, and the exercises she adapts to this narrative effectively address common issues faced by couples in recovery.

Whereas my book lays out the gory personal details and gut punches, Berg brings a well-explained, semi-prescriptive approach to an oft-ignored topic.

By Beverly Berg,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Loving Someone in Recovery as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Recovering addicts are faced with many challenges, and these challenges can often extend to their romantic partners. During the recovery period, couples often struggle with overcoming feelings of betrayal and frustration, and may have a hard time rebuilding trust and closeness. While there are many resources available to recovering addicts, there are limited resources for the people who love them.

In Loving Someone in Recovery, therapist Beverly Berg offers powerful tools for the partners of recovering addicts. Based in mindfulness, attachment theory, and neurobiology, this book will help readers sustain emotional stability in their relationships, increase effective communication, establish boundaries,…

Book cover of It Works, How and Why: The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Narcotics Anonymous

Why did I love this book?

That two of my “best books” involve the 12 Steps of Recovery is no accident. They are a prescription to personal progress that can be parlayed into marital wellness. 

While Alcoholics Anonymous is the most influential recovery book ever written, the secondary text of the adjacent yet unaffiliated Narcotics Anonymous may be the most impactful. 
It Works, How & Why lays out the organization’s 12 Steps – which mirror those devised by its predecessor, Alcoholics Anonymous – in a deeper, more descriptive fashion than perhaps any other tome (it also uses more modern, accessible language, given its 1993 publication). With matter-of-fact language and easy-to-grasp metaphors, the text fleshes out what the 12 Steps are, what they aren’t, and why they are so vital to longstanding recovery from addiction.

By World Service Office,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked It Works, How and Why as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NA It Works How and Why interprets the principles of recovery used by Narcotics Anonymous. Twenty-four chapters offer insight on each Step and Tradition.

Book cover of The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure

Why did I love this book?

What’s a book against language policing and cancel culture doing on a list about post-addiction marriage? Simple: the self-obsessed, oft-offended nonsense permeating universities exemplifies what married couples in recovery must roundly reject. 

The book’s co-authors – a social psychologist and a free speech activist – profess three Great Untruths adversely affecting Generation Z: 

What doesn’t kill you makes you weaker. This prompts us to avoid narratives challenging our preconceived notions or personal experiences. 

Always trust your feelings. Among other problems, unquestionably trusting our feelings leads to taking offense when none is intended.

Life is a battle between good and evil people. This leads to a blame-first mentality that assumes the worst about others. 

They may as well have been speaking to married couples attempting to stay together post-recovery.

By Greg Lukianoff, Jonathan Haidt,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Coddling of the American Mind as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

New York Times Bestseller * Finalist for the 2018 National Book Critics Circle Award in Nonfiction * A New York Times Notable Book * Bloomberg Best Book of 2018

"Their distinctive contribution to the higher-education debate is to meet safetyism on its own, psychological turf . . . Lukianoff and Haidt tell us that safetyism undermines the freedom of inquiry and speech that are indispensable to universities." -Jonathan Marks, Commentary

"The remedies the book outlines should be considered on college campuses, among parents of current and future students, and by anyone longing for a more sane society." -Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


Book cover of Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now

Why did I love this book?

More and more of our interactions occur via social media. This does more than poison our minds; it poisons our relationships, including our most intimate one: life partner. 

There are established downsides to social media, including its addictive nature and oxymoronic means of fomenting alienation. It promotes comparison-driven inferiority complexes, and allows racists and bigots to hide behind pseudonyms. 

But for marriages, social media’s most worrisome issue is its promotion of phoniness. Cyber platforms prompt people to portray themselves in a faux-optimized light – happier, wealthier, and more moral than they really are. They also promote groupthink and reticence driven by fear of backlash. 

A marriage in recovery requires two honest, unabashed partners. Two people trying to heal must minimize the festering wounds inherent in social media.

By Jaron Lanier,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'A blisteringly good, urgent, essential read' ZADIE SMITH

Jaron Lanier, the world-famous Silicon Valley scientist-pioneer and 'high-tech genius' (Sunday Times) who first alerted us to the dangers of social media, explains why its toxic effects are at the heart of its design, and explains in ten simple arguments why liberating yourself from its hold will transform your life and the world for the better.

Social media is making us sadder, angrier, less empathetic, more fearful, more isolated and more tribal. In recent months it has become horribly clear that social media is not bringing us together - it is tearing…

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