“The Joy of Recovery” by Michael McGee MD

The Joy of Recovery: The New 12-Step Guide to Recovery from Addiction

The Joy of Recovery: The New 12-Step Guide to Recovery from Addiction by Michael McGee MD
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Addiction is suffering. Recovery, and the after-process is joy. Got it? This is where the book starts – by reframing the issue.

Like most books on recovery, this book too has a focus on hope. Hope is a powerful theme and it is essential for this work. The author points something out in the beginning that I feel is essential to share in this review: while the addiction is bad and one should avoid addiction, addiction does come with the benefit of the road to recovery. During the recovery process, you have to face the demons that drove you to addiction in the first place. As a result, you can come out of it more whole and healed. What I find interesting is the concept where the author says there are spiritual benefits as well. I guess that part depends on how one defines “spiritual.”

“Addiction is a mental illness that compels people to act to feel better now without regard for what is best in their futures.”

The author does an excellent job not condemning someone who suffered or suffers with addiction. In fact, addiction is a natural method to “feel good now,” which given our immediate-needs culture, seems quite prevalent.

The author breaks the book down into twelve “touchstones” and additional content to encourage, guide, and complete the recovery process from addiction. These steps are: (i) work on recovery, (ii) create a positive recovery environment, (iii) renounce addicting, (iv) act with integrity, (v) heal, (vi) love, (vii) respect reality, (viii) grow, (ix) persevere, (x) develop healthy relationships, (xi) take accountability, and (xii) cultivate your spirituality. The steps make sense. The process make sense. The author comes with over thirty years of experience as an addiction psychologist. The author bases this work on their interactions and treating addiction through the biological, psychological, social, and spiritual dimensions of a person.

This brings me to the question that the reader should be asking, what is the spiritual dimension? It is agnostic of any particular religious tradition? So let’s fast-forward to Touchstone 12: Cultivate Your Spirituality. I’ll try not to leave any spoilers here. According to the author, spirituality is the “intuitive sense of ‘something more,’ beyond the five senses.” Reading on, there is reference to the “interconnectedness of Life” and unity within the mind-brain phenomenon. To translate to layman terms, the author’s understanding of spirituality is one that is based on a blend of secular philosophy with new age mechanics. Spirituality, in this definition, is about experiencing and knowing Truth, but “truth” is undefined.

The author does a good job at attempting to treat addiction, and I give props for that. I studied addictions counseling as part of my counseling minor when working on a Bachelor’s degree. The addition of contemporary issues such as “teching” is excellent, but I feel the “spirituality” component is misplaced and inadequate. Is the book for a religious person or a secular person? The book tries to meet everyone’s needs and encompass a spirituality, which lends one to eastern traditions such as Buddhism or Hinduism. As a result, tenants other traditional religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam, etc.) will not sync with the author’s section on this. Some atheists may also have issues with this content.

In the end, you choose what works best for you, and reader beware of something that doesn’t align to your worldview. In a search for truth, if everyone is right, then everyone is wrong as well. Maybe that’s just my own leaning, but I think it’s a fair warning.

Disclosure: I have received a reviewer copy and/or payment in exchange for an honest review of the product mentioned in this post. This product is reviewed based on content and quality in consideration of the intended audience. Review or recommendation of this product does not solicit endorsement from Reviews by J or the reviewer.

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