To Hell & Back is a self-help book about alcoholism, addiction, and recovery. On the basis of her personal and professional experience and interviews with “Thirteen Alcoholics” the author offers understanding of the affliction and recovery as the way out. The subtitle summarizes the subject matter “How to Have Feelings & Stay Sober at the Same Time” which the alcoholic experiences as the core of his predicament. This is also the glitch for maintaining sobriety - emotional dys-regulation, which interferes with one’s ability to function, and can make continuous sobriety utterly unappealing. The author states that befriending reality, a positive attitude, and mood stabilization is of the essence for recovery.
The book utilizes quotes from spiritual masters, as well as quotes form the DSM-IV to aid in identifying the disease and solution, but it also offers poems describing the emotional and mental condition an alcoholic experiences. This is substantiated with chapters on the addictive brain, touching on physiological peculiarities the alcoholic tries to self-medicate in ways that exacerbate the progressive nature of the disease.
The heart of the book is the chapter “Tools for Your Recovery” which offers “Daily Mental Hygiene Tools” for emotion regulation – practical techniques, such as affirmations, breathing exercises etc, which can be implemented at the reader’s convenience. The chapter “Relationships” addresses aspects of co-dependence and other problematic relational approaches. The chapter “Understanding Recovery” explores problem behaviors versus a new beginning - the solution comes into focus through attention to thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
The author uses an easy and humorous tone throughout, always offering hope – through mindfulness, acceptance of one’s inner truth, and self-soothing techniques for the emotional climate of the recovering addict.