• Holly Chisholm

The Five Books that Helped Me Kick Alcohol's Ass for Good

Updated: Jan 14

When I set a goal to read 20 books at the start of January 2020, I didn’t think much of it. If anything I thought I would give up on it about 2 months in like most of my other new year’s resolutions and forget about it.

Here’s the thing: I love reading. I had just forgotten that I liked it.

I used to read a lot of fiction and fantasy novels, but in the past few years I have become really interested in psychology and mental illness (shoutout to my chronic depression) so I was reading and audiobooking (?) a lot of self help books.

Something that had been nagging at the back of my mind was how my psychiatrist has mentioned NUMEROUS times that alcohol is directly linked to depression. I think this was his gentle way of nudging me into realizing I might have AUD (alcohol use disorder) which is the more medically correct term for an alcoholic.

So naturally I was interested in this topic, and decided I would read a few books about alcohol addiction just to prove to myself that I didn’t have a drinking problem.


Long story short, I have been sober from alcohol for about three months now, and I blame books. Those darn librarians. I always knew they were trying to ruin all my blissful fun and unawareness with self-improvement and learning. Ew.

Basically if I hadn’t read these books, I would probably be dead now.

(Did I convince you to read these yet?)

Ok, that’s a little dramatic, but seriously in like 10-15 years I might have died from liver cirrhosis or a DUI or some other dumb preventable illness/misfortune.

Cause I was DEFINTELY abusing the fuck out of alcohol.

But enough about me, here are the five books that helped me beat my alcohol addiction:

This Naked Mind: Control Alcohol, Find Freedom, Discover Happiness, and Change Your Life by Annie Grace

The Easy Way to Control Alcohol by Allen Carr

The Alcohol Experiment: A 30-Day, Alcohol-Free Challenge to Interrupt Your Habits and Help You Take Control by Annie Grace

Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach

The Confidence Gap

1. This Naked Mind: Control Alcohol, Find Freedom, Discover Happiness, and Change Your Life by Annie Grace

This book was ESSENTIAL in making me realize I had a problem with alcohol. See, here’s the tricky thing: if you are a fish living your whole life surrounded by water, you don’t fucking know it until your gasping for air on the deck of a fishing boat. This book woke me up to the fact that pretty much all of our culture revolves around alcohol, even though its a fucking terrible harmful drug. After reading this book, I now look at alcohol as I look at heroin or crack cocaine; is something just too risky to ever try again. Of course the message of this book took a while to truly sink in, and a lot of people are scared to read this because they think it will tell them what they already know: That they should most definitely give up alcohol. As a person who had been drinking heavily every day weekend and sometimes weekday for the past 8 years I was TERRIFIED to read this book, but now 3 months sober I am so glad I did.

2. The Easy Way to Control Alcohol by Allen Carr

Ok. So like. This is a crazy book.

I've seen one of those hypnotist shows before. Weirdly enough my high school friend Peter’s dad was a hypnotist and he did the whole bit and like made people jump up on tables and shake their butts and other funny shit. No offense to Mr. Johnson (sorry Peter) but this guy was a hack compared to this book.

The reason I read this one is because I used the same book to quit smoking like it was no big deal. I don’t know how it works, but it just does. It wedges into your brain and something happens, and you just realize that you are done.

Some disclaimers:

•It is pretty repetitive. That’s kind of the point I think. It has a lot of the same talking points as This Naked Mind but I suggest reading This Naked Mind first and then this book.

• At the end of the book Allen Carr tells you to take your last drink . With both this book and the smoking book, I bawled like a baby, knowing I didn’t want to drink and smoke any more. A literal fucking rainbow appeared in front of me as I was driving down the highway finishing the audiobook, and I felt free. • You can relapse after reading the book (I did with smoking) but if that happens you can always read it again.

• Try to read this all in like… 1 or 2 days. You kind of need to be really invested and focused on it while you read it as I think that’s how the spirit of Allen Carr possesses your body and you become a non-drinker.

3. The Alcohol Experiment: A 30-Day, Alcohol-Free Challenge to Interrupt Your Habits and Help You Take Control by Annie Grace

I’m gonna be honest. I didn’t fully finish this one. I got to about day 15 before I felt like I didn’t need to finish it. I am sure I will go back at some point and read it. I would highly recommend this if you do well with structure and you don't have a consistent therapy group or AA meeting to go to for the first 30 days. I like the experimental nature of this book, and it has a lot of the same teachings of This Naked Mind in more manageable chunks. What I do like is how approachable it is, and there is a really supportive and active community for this book on Facebook that acted as a sort of digital support group as I was first starting out.

4. Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach

Ok, so, here’s the thing. We don’t just become alcoholics for no reason. A lot of us have experienced some pretty fucked up shit growing up, or we had a great childhood, but we just learned how to respond to stress or fear in maladaptive ways.

This book is all about learning how to recognize and reject a lot of the negative, unhelpful thoughts and stories we tell ourselves. It took me a LOOOONG time to realize that I had been drinking as a form of self-harm to punish myself for a blunder I made in my early college years (it’s a long story for another time). Radical Acceptance helped prepare me for the incredibly difficult decision that I might actually have to CHOOSE to like myself if I really wanted to stop harming myself with my alcohol abuse. Not for my boyfriend. Not for my therapist, not for my cute pets. For me.

Guh. Self love and acceptance is still hard for me to accept. Maybe I should read this one again.

5. The Confidence Gap

One of the biggest issues with my previous attempts at sobriety was I gave up alcohol and felt like there was this HUUUUGE gap in my life. It just seemed empty, an sad, and like, what if you aren’t fun anymore and because you aren’t fun your boyfriend leaves you and then you fall into crippling depression again and have to get on meds again and then you ll get fat and be poor cause you will be too sad to work again and the you’ll become a fat homeless loser who fucking DIES ALONE AND….

Woah slow down there brain.

This book taught me some really helpful techniques to “unhook” from my thoughts which my highly anxious and alcohol-deprived brain was spitting out at me like a cartoon character spits out watermelon seeds. This one has been key in helping manage my anxiety and have a more mindful life.

Bonus 6th book:

Quit Like a Woman by Holly Whitaker

Ok, so truth be told I haven’t actually read this one yet, but I am obsessed with this lady and everything she has ever written, and her book is about to come out at the time I am writing this, and I am sure it is lovely. She is a very passionate woman who makes a killer case for why sobriety is awesome, and is working to dismantle the alcohol industry and patriarchy simultaneously. Good on you girl. I’ll stick with making sad comics and focusing on my sobriety for now.

So that's the fill list, but don't take my word for it! I hope that this list will inspire you to go out and start getting curious about your relationship to alcohol, and hopefully these books will be as useful to you as they were to me. Good luck, and stay peachy!

If you want to see more about my journey in sobriety, please read my comics here:

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