Sane: Mental Illness, Addiction, and the 12 Steps

Image of Sane: Mental Illness, Addiction, and the 12 Steps
Release Date: 
April 28, 2010
Hazelden Publishing
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Sane: Mental Illness, Addiction, and the 12 Steps finds author Marya Hornbacher recounting her own recovery trials trying to get and stay sober. In all honesty, these kinds of stories are a dime a dozen, and while that shouldn’t diminish their value by any means, haven’t we heard this tale before? What makes her journey unique? What sets Hornbacher’s journey apart from the countless others who have felt the burden of addiction on their shoulders?

While addiction by itself is an issue, couple it with the weight of mental illness and you’ve got a one-two punch that must seem insurmountable to most.

Hornbacher leads the reader through an honest, open, and enlightening examination of the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous for those who struggle not only with addiction but also mental illness. Each one of the Twelve Steps is examined from the perspective of not just the alcoholic’s mind and soul, but also through the eyes of a person suffering from both alcoholism and mental illness and how one ties into and affects the other, especially in the recovery process.

While addiction is addiction, Hornbacher admits that many aspects of the Twelve Steps may seem intimidating and almost impossible to someone suffering with mental illness, but while that person’s challenges may be unique, the path to sobriety and sanity is not impossible.

Hornbacher also tries to bridge the gap of our understanding of mental illness and the often inaccurate perceptions many of us have regarding alcoholism and the recovery process. In her own words:

“We may have run into people who were unaware that mental illnesses are physical diseases of the brain, or people who didn’t understand that psychiatric medication is often an essential part of our treatment. People who don’t know these things may have told us that our medication was the same thing as ‘using,’ or told us that our mental health concerns should be kept out of our Twelve Step meetings. This message can be alienating and can turn a person off from Twelve Step programs.”

Hornbacher makes good use of her writing skills to help the reader through what may appear to be a maze of issues that make working each step a challenge to those with co-disorders. The strength of this book is Hornbacher’s ability to thoroughly and clearly examine, explain, and process each of the Twelve Steps from the perspective of the addicted and mentally ill mind.