Substance Abuse Counselor Resources

Below you will find a sampling of some of the resources available to substance abuse counselors in regards to books and study manuals.  There are many more available out there on the market, and we will try our best to continue covering the best of the best.  Check out our mini-reviews below and feel free to click the titles or pictures to learn more about each book.


Reference Guides

Treating Substance Abuse

treating substance abuseThis is generally considered the quintessential book on substance abuse counseling.  It has a very professional aura to it in the fact that there are no judgements made, no preaching or lecturing about ethics or morality, but just raw factual information given and used to support certain treatment modalities.  The chapters are broken into types of treatment which cover the classic 12 core functions, medication-assisted recovery, and contingency management, among many others.  It covers every possible angle you could need to perform your job and to do it well.  The citations provided are a framework to further deepen your learning and provide great branching out points.  If you have any book in your library, this should be it.

Diagnostic Statistics Manual – IV

dsm-ivThis is a must have in the sense that it is literally the authority on mental illness of every type.  Dual-diagnosis is a huge issue for many substance abuse sufferers.  Learning the ins and outs of every other type of illness can greatly help you recognize other issues that will pop up and hinder the main goal of yours, which is to help the patient cease usage of drugs or any other form of abuse or addiction.  This is the quick reference version, which is abridged in which most of the fluff is removed.  This is great for studying and looking up problems quickly before a patient visits your office.  There is also a desk reference version which is spiral bound if you’d prefer that.  Either way, some form of the DSM-IV is a must for any counselor.

Substance Abuse – Contemporary World Issues

substance abuseThis fantastic reference covers the full gamut of legal and illicit substance abuse issues worldwide.  Not only does it concern the current state of affairs but it even provides a historical context for the past use and rise in current abuse for each type of drug, including modern day pharmaceuticals.  From longitudinal stories of the lives of addicts, so reference tables of organizations, relevant scientific research documents, and data represented visually, this book has it all for you.  The best part is learning the biological and psychological mechanisms of addiction.  Even more insight is given from the overview of the attempts to control the abuse of these substances throughout history.  Learning how people have always dealt with the issues can help you anticipate how your patients will as well, and hopefully sidestep and shortcut some of the obstacles.


Group Therapy

Group Treatment for Substance Abuse

group treatment for substance abuseThis book provides a full-scope, 29 session group therapy program of treatment for those with substance abuse issues.  It focuses on education, skill building, and crisis interventions at the start, and later provides your clients with the necessary skills to maintain their abstinence through managing their inner world with concepts such as contemplation, meditation, and raising general awareness.  It is written for the counselor and provides a step-by-step guide and justification for everything within it.  There are even homework assignments, handouts, and exercises to be photocopied and delivered every week.  For the beginning counselor or the master, there is something to be gained from this book.  It makes a great framework for tailoring your own full length course of treatment as well.  Give it a whirl!

The Substance Abuse & Recovery Workbook

substance abuse recovery workbookWhereas the book above is for the counselor, this book is for the patient largely.  It is chock-full of self-inventory assessments, activities to explore your inner environment, guidances for effective journaling, and more.  It helps the client determine where they are in the addiction ladder, figure out what it is about their personality that predisposes them to chemical dependency, determine if they are codependent, and even identify relapse signals.  In my opinion, the portion explaining the rationalizations and justifications for using or stopping the using habit is worth the price of the book alone, and ten times over.  The book is relevant to computer, internet, and gambling addictions as well.  It is designed for photocopying pages for clients.

The Group Therapy of Substance Abuse

group therapy of substance abuseThis book focuses on group therapy following the psychosocial theory of treatment, giving quite the overview before teaching you how to put it into practice pragmatically.  It features lots of snippets from leaders in the industry of each varying type of treatment, breaking down the jargon and technicalities, thus making it accessible quickly without wasting your time.  Teaching cognitive behavioral therapy to groups while working on the psychodynamic approach makes this entire process very efficient.  Having a high client to counselor ratio makes progress faster, and this book teaches you how to pull it off in the best manner possible.  The book also teaches how to segment your groups into certain communities based on gender, age, sexual preference, and more to help identify problem areas and treat them quickly without diverting attention from others needs as well.


Recovery Stories

The Harder They Fall

the harder they fallFull of photos and interviews, The Harder They Fall is a book about celebrities dealing with addiction and recovery.  Being caught in a world where the demands and respect almost ostracize and place ridiculous amounts of pressure on them, celebrities can fall victim to escapism like anyone else.  However, the true problem comes with being able to ask for help.  The fear of this secret getting out and ruining their careers is all the more reason to hide and struggle alone.  But victory can be achieved in these extraordinary circumstances, and learning how it happened through the eyes and words of the celebrities themselves is a very inspirational journey.  For counselors, having these anecdotes and stories available to paraphrase and tell can help keep a positive atmosphere for themselves and their clients.  Hope is key!

Broken: My Story of Addiction and Redemption

brokenThis story doesn’t romanticize, glorify, or dramatize the struggles of drug addiction.  With clarity, the tale unfolds as you watch a young male who had everything going for him fall victim to addiction with an expensive and damaging substance.  This guy literally almost dies, hits rock bottom, and finds a deep sense of spirituality which provides the context for his conversion.  He defeats shame, fear, and every other obstacle to be encountered as he transforms his situation and pulls it all back together.  This book gives counselors a leisurely and enjoyable read as well as anyone suffering themselves.  Inspiration, hope, and a sense of having guideposts along the journey can help keep a client on the wagon and heading towards a brighter future.  Long live recovery!

Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Addiction

beautiful boyTake a look at addiction from a family member’s view point.  This father questions his role in the falling apart of his family during his son’s trials with addiction and eventual recovery.  The most interesting aspect of this book is the meta-addiction.  What I mean by that is the addiction of the father and his obsession with his son’s new lifestyle.  Worry and anxiety itself can be addictive to those watching a loved one spiral out of control.  This is an emotional roller coaster.  Anyone caught in the cycle of substance abuse should read this to gain a non-selfish perspective of how their actions are harming those around them.  No one person is an island and we all have an influence on those who care for us, including friends and family.  David Sheff does not hold back in this one.  Do yourself a favor and pick this book up.

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