Resources on Addiction

Alwyn Lau
3 min readNov 16, 2023

The below are not really “how to quit addiction” books; they’re a mixed bag of theory, story, case-study, confession, etc. Anyway, here goes:

1. Kessler D (2017) Capture: Unravelling the Mystery of Mental Suffering. New York: Harper Perennial.

David Kessler’s book is a grand sweep of many examples of what he calls ‘capture’ i.e. that super-obsessive ‘thing’ which locks on to our minds and doesn’t let go. Naturally, addiction is one of the topics discussed but Kessler also covers depression, divine inspiration, violence, etc.

Case studies include David Foster Wallace (the flagship case), Martin Luther, William Styron, etc. Wallace’s case is most tragic in that, in a very real sense, his was a victim of his own mind — which is also an apt image of addiction.

2. Lewis M (2016) The Biology of Desire: Why Addiction Is Not a Disease. Melbourne: Scribe.

This book is a look ‘under the hood’ at the neurological mechanics and processes involved in addiction. Lots of brain-science stuff which flew over my head (ventrial stratum, orbitofrontal cortex, etc.). Lewis’ thesis that addiction is NOT a disease is worth pondering because in this context the brain’s weakness (i.e. it’s reshaping due to addiction) can, with effort and patience, become a strength i.e. it can be reshaped to form stronger positive patterns.

When I read some of the case studies (of addiction to thieving, to drink, to drugs, etc.) I couldn’t help but be moved by how all-encompassing addiction can be. Generally kind, intelligent and ‘successful’ individuals can turn into zombie-like creatures stuck in a trance.

This book was also the first time I read about how a majority of heroine-addicted American soldiers in Vietnam gave up their addiction after returning home. Ergo, when traumatic or suggestive or ‘vulnerable’ conditions change, addiction can, too.

3. Manning B and Blake J (2015) All Is Grace: A Ragamuffin Memoir. Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook.

As some of you know, Brennan Manning was a super-star Roman Catholic turned Evangelical speaker from the 80s’ to 90s’, but also someone who suffered heavily from alcoholism. There are some gut-wrenching passages here about how, for eg, he would lock himself in his room and drink and drink and drink.

As a result, his marriage collapsed and he even missed his mum’s funeral because he was loaded the night before and couldn’t wake up in time.

That’s the thing about addiction (which I wrote about re: Ravi Zacharias): It makes you do crazy shit which you absolutely regret but which you feel helpless to stop.

There is no question the addict is ‘at fault’ but addiction is one of the few cases where, paradoxically, the person who most wants to stop (but can’t) is the addict himself/herself.

4. Tan N (2021) I Am An Addict. The Star, 6 January.

Where Tan shares about his addiction to gaming as an avenue, among other things, for escape. He also provides links and contacts for support.

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Alwyn Lau

Edu-trainer, Žižek studies, amateur theologian, columnist.