Overcoming Addiction: A Biblical Path Towards Freedom, by Elizabeth A. Shartle
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by Aneko Press. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]
This is a book that definitely lives up to its name. From time to time I read books that relate to addictions and overcoming them , and I often find it difficult to relate to them personally. To be sure, addiction is common, and it is entirely understandable that books are written to help encourage those struggling with addiction to seek help and treatment, but much of the time the approach can be somewhat superficial in nature. Addictions are immensely varied in nature, but tend to spring from a small set of common circumstances, and this author does a great job in examining, in a sometimes painfully personal way, the root causes of the addictive behaviors that people struggle with. And it is in wrestling with those root causes that the author does a great deal of service in connecting a lot of related phenomena together, although this book will likely not be a comfortable read for many people because it is so personal both as far as it goes with the writer and the reader.
This book is about 150 pages in length and is divided into sixteen chapters. The author introduces herself as both a counselor and a lawyer and ten provides a detailed discussion of the beginning of her life (1) in ways that ought to be relatable to the author’s reading audience. By describing her own struggles with relationships and the lack of concern she saw from others, including people in the churches she attended as well as her family of origin, the author wins a lot of goodwill and sympathy from the reader. After this the author looks at the root causes of addiction including our search for pleasure (2), the way that substances and habits and appetites often control our minds (3), our struggles with knowing God is good (4), and our need to find beauty in life (5). The author switches into good advice for dealing with a lot of addictive behaviors including a healthy diet (6), exercise (7), and learning how to cope with stress (8). The author then looks at some of the moral issues that deal with the context of addictions like developing humility (9), learning how to communicate well (10), and forgiving others (11). The rest of the book consists of somewhat miscellaneous material like the author’s thoughts on the opiate crisis (12), how to properly love someone with an addiction (13), a (very) brief word on sexuality (14), traditional treatments for addiction (15), and the author’s closing comments (16).
Much of this book, properly speaking, does not deal with the expected psychological approach to dealing with addictions. Notably, the author points to addictions as frequently springing from issues of trauma and her thoughts on that are both hard-nosed and tender-hearted. One can see a great deal of nuance in the author’s concern that people face up to sin at being at the root of a wide variety of addictions ranging from emotional eating to browsing the web too much to more traditional drug and alcohol addictions and also her note that treatment be undertaken with a focus on avoiding a dependence on medicine while also using it in its proper place. At times this book gets uncomfortably real in looking at the sort of excuses and dodges that are made for people not to deal with their addictive behaviors as well as the genuine longings and needs of the body that tend to lead people astray into fulfilling those longings and needs in an improper fashion. This is a book that is definitely well-worth reading, and one could easily imagine the author developing a workbook and program that seeks to combine the author’s insights into human sinfulness and the manifestations of that sin in troublesome and problematic behaviors.
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