On the Other Side of Chaos


A constructive handbook written for those dealing with the disruption and pain of active addiction, whether it involves alcohol/drugs or compulsive behaviors.

SKU: 978-1-942094-79-1 Categories: , , Product ID: 3183
Pages: 334
Format: paperback

Publishers Weekly

On the Other Side of Chaos: Understanding the Addiction of a Loved One by Ellen Van Vechten.

Van Vechten, an attorney turned drug counselor who experienced drug addiction in her own family, offers information, guidance, and support to those dealing with another person’s active addiction. Van Vechten writes that addiction is not a choice, but “a chronic… relapsing brain disease” that physiologically changes the brain’s structure and function. It’s characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use despite harmful consequences. The book first covers the legal realities and scientific facts of the disease process, and how and why some people become addicted; information about drugs and their effects on the body; criteria for diagnosis of addictive disorders; and how and why treatment works. Part Two deals with what happens when a person’s addiction affects the family and describes a parallel path to recovery for addicts and those who love them. Part Three features action plans for making informed decisions about treatment, rules for living with a recovering addict, and ways to find serenity by practicing the principles of 12-Step programs. The book also includes an appendix with tables summarizing “drugs of abuse,” a glossary, and chapter endnotes with references and lists of online resources. Van Vechten offers a solid handbook for those in search of help and authoritative advice.

Library Journal

Van Vechten, Ellen. On the Other Side of Chaos: Understanding the Addiction of a Loved One. ADDICTION/RECOVERY Lawyer and addiction and drug counselor Van Vechten has experience firsthand the throes of a family member’s addiction. Her book begins by first classifying different drugs (including gambling) and their effects on the body, then goes on to describe the risk factors and how causation is a “no fault” for family members. A variety of treatment options are presented, but mostly the narrative concentrates on living comfortably with the recovering addict. In a takeoff from Alcoholics Anonymous’s 12-Step program, Van Vechten urges those close to the addict to seek their own peace and serenity. VERDICT While rather densely written, this overall valuable guide will be welcomed by family members of loved ones struggling with dependence habits.


Based in part on her own family’s journey, Ellen Van Vechten explains the science of addiction, the theory of treatment, and the twelve-step model of recovery, providing sensible information and tips for reasoned action in support of a loved one while fostering personal growth and recovery.

Powerlessness over another’s addiction has a caustic effect on the family. Too often parents and partners equate “letting go” with “giving up.” While acceptance of a lack of control is essential to coping with the disease within the family system, there is nothing passive about supporting a partner or child in their journey to recovery. This concept is the foundation of Van Vechten’s original approach to empower individuals with knowledge, which when coupled with acceptance allows any family dealing with active addiction to make thoughtful and reasoned decisions to facilitate the recovery of both their loved ones and themselves.

Additional information

Weight 15 oz
Dimensions 9 × 6 × 2 in


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