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Synopsis of White Knuckles and Wishful Thinking, Learning from the Moment of Relapse in Alcoholism and Other Addictions (Second Edition, Hogrefe and Huber, 2000)

White Knuckles and Wishful Thinking

Expanded and updated with treatment exercises for every chapter, addiction studies questions at end.

This book builds on one relentless fact about addictive relapse: At the moment of picking up the first drink/drug we all say one of two things. Either “One won’t hurt” (or a handful of “wishful” variations) or “F— it” (or a smaller, less frequent list of “white knuckle” variations.”)

What does this mean? Why is it that so many different people, — different addictions, different stages of the illness, different educational and cultural back- grounds — all say the same thing at this critical moment? After all, this is the very moment that treatment and recovery strive to prevent. And if we could understand it, might we not help more people not have to repeat it?

For almost thirty years now, the author has looked inside this fateful moment. With a relentlessness surpassed only by addiction itself, he has sought to enter and comprehend the psychic world of the person living it. He also steps back and looks at this moment from the perspective of the would-be helper. Whether we read to help ourselves or to help others, we, too, must be able to see from within and without. Like the author, we must sift through psychological and biological theory. The theories mean nothing if they do not connect with human experience.

What does the author have to report from his obsessive quest? You will find one “nuclear” chapter for understanding the “wishful” relapse and another for the “white knuckle” relapse.You will find three chapters on denial, how it functions up to the moment of relapse.You will find three chapters on acceptance — what it is, how it happens,how it prevents relapse. All of the chapters specify tools for working with self or others about the experience of relapse, how to replace it with the experience of recovery. The relationship between recovery and spirituality is clearly spelled out in terms of the actual relapse moment. The chapter on what coping is and how to do it may become a classic. The Second Edition introduces the “SPARROW” model for coping, for taking the”Serenity Prayer” down off the wall and putting it to work. Each chapter now features study guides for students of chemical dependency and treatment exercises for those struggling with their own relapse.

Two other features make this book not only practical but readable. The humorous and evocative line drawings by French illustrator Sylvain Depretz. And the writing of an author with an ear for dialog and an eye for metaphor, one who has mastered the craft of writing to communicate. You would almost think he had fun!

Book Info

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