In this revelatory and original book, award-winning author of the acclaimed surf memoir On a Wave illuminates the connection between waves, addiction, and recovery, exploring what surfing can teach us about the powerful undertow of addictive behaviors and the ways to swim free of them.
Addiction is arguably the dominant feature of contemporary life: sex, gambling, exercise, eating, shopping, Internet use—there's virtually no pleasurable activity that can't morph into a destructive obsession. For Americans under the age of fifty-five, the leading cause of death is drug overdose. But there is another side of addiction.
In some instances, the very activities that can lead to addiction can also lead out of it. As neurologists have recently discovered, surfing is a kind of study in the mechanism of addiction, delivering dopamine to the "pleasure" center of the brain and reshaping priorities and desire in a feedback loop of narrowing focus. Thad Ziolkowski knows this dynamic intimately. A lifelong surfer, he has been surrounded by addiction since his boyhood. In this unique, groundbreaking book, part addiction memoir, part sociological study, part spiritual odyssey, Ziolkowski dismantles the myth of surfing as a radiantly wholesome lifestyle immune to the darker temptations of the culture and discovers among the rubble a new way to understand and ultimately overcome addiction.
Combining his own story with insights from scientists, progressive thinkers and the experiences of top surfers and addicts from around the world, Ziolkowski shows how getting on a board and catching a wave is a unique and deeply instructive means of riding out of the darkness and back into the light. Yet while surfing is his salvation, its lessons can applied to other activities that can pull us free from the lethal undertow of addiction and save lives.