THE SOUL OF RECOVERY
by Christopher D Ringwald
Published by Oxford University Press at £21.00 (www.oup.com/uk). 305 pages. ISBN 978-019 514768-1.
On reading the author’s Preface, I was struck by the size of the task for this work. Intrigued, I scanned through the Bibliography and Notes: tribute to the author’s extensive and intensive research, they are augmented by a human component throughout the book. Conversations with recovered addicts as well as workers in the field of addiction are brought into every chapter, and Ringwald uses their words to enlarge, explain and illustrate his points. What seems an academic work turns out to be both inspired and inspiring.
Aside from other consideration, I shall keep this close at hand to refer to some of the facts and statistics, be they for debunking myths about recovery or forcibly reinforcing the book’s main premise. This is that “many addicts recover by spiritual means”. Too many studies, while acknowledging this fact, give it minimal space.
Among the many achievements of this book is the defining of spirituality within the framework of basic humanity and human needs. For the addict, it is “an unorganised belief system that enables you to change” or, as the author summarises Viktor Frankl, it “allows each of us to rise above the most wretched of circumstances”.
Ringwald, in identifying the addict’s search for “solace for the heart”, captures the spirit of recovery, God or no God, 12-steps or no 12-steps.
Anthony Scratchley is a Hazelden-trained counsellor, with some years in practice.