Overcoming Your Alcohol Drug and Recovery Habits: An Empowering Alternative to AA and 12-Step Treatment


Recognizing that an addiction to 12-step programs can be just as dangerous as an addiction to alcohol or drugs, this book provides techniques to counter the self-defeating beliefs that lead to addiction. It enables those who have gone through Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and formal 12-step addiction treatments to overcome the self-destructive beliefs and attitudes that these programs promote. These include the idea that addicts and alcoholics are powerless, the belief that addiction is an incurable ...

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Recognizing that an addiction to 12-step programs can be just as dangerous as an addiction to alcohol or drugs, this book provides techniques to counter the self-defeating beliefs that lead to addiction. It enables those who have gone through Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and formal 12-step addiction treatments to overcome the self-destructive beliefs and attitudes that these programs promote. These include the idea that addicts and alcoholics are powerless, the belief that addiction is an incurable disease, the assertion that people who slip inevitably lose control, and the notion that those who reject the 12-step approach are doomed. Devoted to helping individuals indoctrinated in 12-step dogma recognize their destructiveness, this book provides effective psychological techniques to vanquish negative thinking and help individuals regain control of their lives.

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Editorial Reviews

James DeSena, Ph.D., is an authority on alcohol and drug addiction who has come to the conclusion that there are healthier and more effective alternatives to the traditional Alcohol Anonymous and 12-Step treatments. Based on his personal and professional experience and research, he has written an excellent book, Overcoming Your Alcohol, Drug and Recovery Habits. "Bad medicine and faith healers have harmed vulnerable people for ages," says the author, and he cites the way too many addiction treatment providers often have their addicted patients returning time and time again without success. He says, though, that addicts can quit for good and do so without therapists and others. Studies clearly show that nearly 80% of people who quit alcohol and drug addictions did so on their own. His book takes a hard look at the addiction treatment industry and, at the same time, charts the path for those who want to quit. I heartily recommend this book.---Alan Caruba, charter member of the National Book Critics Circle.
March 2003
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781884365294
  • Publisher: See Sharp Press
  • Publication date: 1/1/2003
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 444,235
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.45 (d)

Meet the Author

James DeSena is a certified alcohol and drug addiction counselor who has chaired hundreds of non-12-step self-help meetings. He lives in Florham Park, New Jersey.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Joseph Gerstein, M.D., Harvard Medical School

Chapter 1: Trick or Treatment?
The genesis of the Recovery Merry-Go-Round. AA—The Sacred Cow. The Recovery Group Movement (RGM). The Addiction Treatment Industry (ATI). Success Rates. Freedom from addiction and recovery will be yours. Stop recovering and start discovering.

Chapter 2: The Recovery Merry-Go-Round
Operators and Riders. Professionals and Innocents. How the disease theory of alcoholism fosters merry-go-round recovery. “Charlie's” rocky recovery merry-go-round ride. The wildly successful self-discovered.

Chapter 3: God Help Us: The Trouble With Spirituality
AA’s religious roots and its faith healing program. A spiritual monopoly. Who’s Frank Buchman? "Hi, my name's Bill W." Groupies. Alcoholics Anonymous in court.

Chapter 4: Heightened Perception: Your Higher, Higher Power
Wake up! The power in thinking for yourself again. Going beyond the disease myth of alcoholism/addiction and the supernatural remedy of AA’s cofounder, Bill Wilson. The frustration factor. The feelings trap. Debunking the dry drunk syndrome. Heightened perception in action.

Chapter 5: Their Truth and nothing but Their Truth
Behind the closed doors of rehabs and 12-step meeting rooms. Exposing the isolation and information control policies of the recovery group movement and addiction treatment industry. The Truth Keepers. The other side of the truth.

Chapter 6: Sticks and Stones: Words That Can Hurt
Learn what they really mean: Addiction, Alcoholism, Denial, Dependence, Chemical Dependence, Tolerance, Intervention, Loss of Control, Blackouts, Preoccupation, Anticipation—and what you’re really up against.

Chapter 7: Decision Day: When Quitting Means Winning
Time to quit. Cold turkey or medically supervised detox? Minor and Major withdrawal. Dos, don'ts and what to expect. You can do it.

Chapter 8: Discovery: Building Your Foundation
Making your own peace through Unconditional Self-Acceptance. No more recovery, relapse and powerlessness. Self-worth vs. self-esteem. Discover why you really drank and why you want to quit. Closure: What was, was. Discovery of pain/pleasure.

Chapter 9: Minding Your Minds: Your Two Ways of Thinking
Caution: MICA (Mentally Ill Chemical Abuser), money and you. Addiction treatment's poster boys: Robert Downey, Jr. and Darryl Strawberry. Why Bill W.'s "baffling mind problem" of addiction is not so baffling. Distinguishing between rational and emotional thoughts. The Dual Mind Cycle of Addiction.

Chapter 10: The Parasite
The joy of hitting recovery bottom. Translation: Separating from the destructive self-talk behind addictive behavior: “I want it.” “Gotta have it.” “Just a few won’t hurt.” Alcohol: Cunning, baffling, powerful?---No way!

Chapter 11: P.A.W.N.
Ending your addiction for good—the secrets of the self-discovered. The Commitment. Don't count time, count on self-worth: Demystifying the addiction treatment industry’s, Abstinence Violation Effect (A.V.E.). A different drummer. P.A.W.N. Pocket Summary.

Chapter 12: The Myth of Relapse Triggers
The H.A.L.T.—Hungry Angry Lonely Tired—conspiracy. Big Macs, tofu and bean sprouts: The role of diet and nutrition. Warning signs: More excuses. No more excuses.

Chapter 13: Beware the Codependency Cartel
Wake up! Behind the smiles of Al-Anon, Alateen, ACOA and CODA. Banishing victimhood: Empowering yourself to live codependent and recovery-free. Codependency’s cruelest trick: Enabling. Break up, put up, shut up or make up. Discovering: emotional security and self-reliance. Be a genius: Prepare. Goals and options.

Chapter 14: Ready To Rock
Your liberation from addiction and recovery. Discovery bonus gifts: Freedom and time. A final look at the RGM and The Parasite. The power in setting goals. Creating your booze/drug/recovery-free identity. The mirror effect. The land of the free. The brass ring: Welcome to Discovery.

Appendix A: Drugs Used to Treat Addictions
Appendix B: Abstinence–Based Alternatives to 12-Step Programs
Appendix C: What About Moderation?
Suggested Reading
About the Author

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 8, 2007

    Nothing constructive. Just a rant.

    A complete disappointment. The book is described as an empowering alternative to AA, therefore I was expecting a positive, constructive plan for recovery or 'discovery' as the book calls it. Instead, it's simply complaining about the pitfalls of the AA program- 14 chapters of it. The point is made in the first chapter and belabored for the entire book without providing any real constructive value or alternative. Where's the actual alternative program or strategy to AA that is promised and that I was looking for? Where's the positive, empowering tone that I need during this time of quitting alcohol? If you'd like to waste your time reading a negative rant, buy this book. I could've used something a lot more inspirational.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 24, 2008

    A Total Eye-Opener!!

    The obvious lack of perception certain readers display when they submit 'reviews' is rather scary. Overcoming Your Alcohol, Drug and Recovery Habits' author clearly states that the alternative he presents is not a PROGRAM. It's the distillation of a thinking process many independently sober, former substancers/drinkers use to identify and overcome their self-destructive addictive behavior. This thinking process or 'strategy,' if one wants to use that term, is laid out over the course of a number of chapters. If a recovery program is what someone desires, the author lists and explains some fine alternatives to AA in Appendix B. Also, revealing inequities, bad medicine, a problematic program, (AA), citing empirical findings and outing questionably competent 'recovery' practitioners is not a negative rant. It's stating facts and uncovering truth. Perhaps certain people cannot handle the truth and the fact that they, ultimately, are responsible for what they put and do not put into their bodies. The author's, (DeSena) discovery alternative to recovery is in itself empowering, positive and inspirational. It's self-suffiency at its best. This book is for you if you want to stand on your own two feet again and quit drinking/drugging without having to sit in meeting rooms for the rest of your life. If you need to hug teddy bears and hear people reply in kind, 'Thanks for sharing,' stick with AA and their Big Book.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 7, 2004

    There Are Many Roads to a Sober, Happy Life!

    I'm grateful to have found Overcoming Your Alcohol, Drug and Recovery Habits when I did. After enduring a traditional 12-step rehab and subsequent months of AA meetings, I knew this 'treatment' was not the road to recovery for me. This book opened my eyes to many resources and options for overcoming my addiction before I became immersed in what for me was ineffective and obtuse 12-step theology.----- Critics of Overcoming Your Alcohol, Drug and Recovery Habits often attack the author's character, not his message. It's clear to this former addict that the author of this book would like the still suffering substance abuser to know of all his or her recovery options; not just the AA way. It's sad that the addiction treatment community, despite its appallingly dismal sobriety success rate, (less than 5 per cent) in effect withholds alternatives to AA and 12-step treatment. It's also clear that there are other critics who would advise addicts who don't find AA helpful to simply not go. What these uninformed critics don't understand or refuse to understand is that AA and 12-step attendance is choicelessly thrust upon unwitting addicts when they submit to addiction treatment as currently practiced in the United States. Telling people who find AA unhelpful to simply not attend, and then, not offering viable alternatives to it, is ignorant counsel and meaningless at best.----- If you're unduly struggling, unhappy or not where you'd like to be in AA, give Overcoming Your Alcohol, Drug and Recovery Habits a read. You'll know what your options are and empower yourself to choose the sobriety path that makes sense and is right for you.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 7, 2003

    This Book Is The Gift That Keeps On Giving

    Dr. Jim DeSena¿s book goes beyond what I had been searching for. While I had read many of the alternative AA recovery books and found them very helpful, it was Overcoming Your Alcohol, Drug and Recovery Habits that I found extremely helpful. As if the words were written especially for me, this book spoke to me like no other. The information in this book answered the gnawing questions about ¿recovery¿ that have plagued me for years. For one, all of the alternative books still spoke of recovering from alcohol and drugs. At best, they spoke of becoming fully recovered. But none of the alternative books ever suggested discarding the ¿recovery,¿ ¿recovering,¿ ¿recovered¿ mentality as Dr. DeSena¿s book does. His use of the word, ¿Discovery¿ instead of recovery was a liberating breath of fresh air. I found this concept alone to be most empowering.--------------------- Also, Dr. DeSena¿s unique look at the recovery process really hit home. This is a process that for many people in ¿recovery,¿ Dr. DeSena terms, ¿The Recovery Merry-Go-Round.¿ Rehab after rehab, therapist after therapist, and AA meeting after AA meeting was the recovery merry-go-round that I had been spinning on for years. Yet after all that, I never felt secure with my ¿sobriety.¿ My ¿sobriety¿ was merely a temporary ¿gift,¿ given one-day-at-a-time, which I could only keep if I continued working the AA program and attending meetings. I truly believe that all that is behind me now. I have chalked up my recovering past to a hard lesson that I¿ll never repeat. I¿ve begun to live a recovery-free life of Discovery. It¿s something I never dreamed possible, but it is possible. I now know what freedom feels like. And for me, it¿s not only freedom from alcohol and drugs, (I finally feel secure about my sobriety) but it¿s also freedom from a lifetime of meetings and recovering. Now that¿s a real gift! It¿s clear why the title of Dr. DeSena¿s book speaks of overcoming your alcohol, drug AND recovery habits. This book has changed my life. Thank you so very much Dr. DeSena, thank you.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 10, 2003

    Move Over Betty Ford. The Truth that the Addiction/Recovery ¿Experts¿ Never Tell You!

    Jim DeSena has put into words what clearly many ¿recovering¿ people think and feel, but are too afraid, reluctant, embarrassed, or intimidated to say: That AA and 12-step programs are NOT the universal answer for everyone when it comes to beating an addiction.-------- After eight years of ¿recovering,¿ three stints in rehab, countless AA meetings, countless hours spent with Certified Alcohol Counselors and shrinks¿I am finally free¿Free from a lifetime of ¿recovering,¿ free from rehabs, free from AA, free from counselors, shrinks, and most importantly, I¿m finally free from my self-destructive addiction to booze. This is a true, gut-feeling freedom I never experienced during my eight-year association with the one-day-at-time ¿recovering¿ community of Alcoholics Anonymous. For this, I will be forever grateful to finding Jim DeSena¿s powerful and liberating book, Overcoming Your Alcohol, Drug and Recovery Habits: An Empowering Alternative to AA and 12-Step Treatment.-------- Overcoming Your Alcohol, Drug and Recovery Habits has opened my eyes to alternative 12-step methods and programs that the addiction treatment ¿experts¿ NEVER offered me. This knowledge alone, that alternatives do exist, has instilled in me a sense of control over my behavior and a peace of mind I never knew in AA, because my struggles with sobriety were ALWAYS blamed on my ¿denial,¿ or my failure to ¿work a good 12-step program.¿ It is said, ¿God helps those who help themselves.¿ If true, would God really mind if we found our sobriety through an alternative to the AA program? Would God try to stop us from saving our own lives?-------- I urge anyone who is struggling in his or her ¿recovery¿ to give Jim DeSena¿s book a careful read. Give yourself the opportunity to free yourself not only from addiction, but also from a lifetime of dreary meetings with a ¿recovering¿ community that walks on eggshells, because their ¿sobriety¿ only lasts for 24-hour clips. Overcoming Your Alcohol, Drug and Recovery Habits will show you how to live recovery-free and beat your addiction for good, not one-day-at-a-time. As DeSena explains in his book, ¿Once you discover what you¿re actually up against, quitting alcohol and other drugs will become a learned skill well within your ability, like learning to ride a bicycle. Yes, you¿ll be a bit wobbly at first, but once you¿ve learned¿it¿s over! There¿s no need for daily practice¿or one-day-at-a-time recovery.¿ You have everything to gain and nothing to loose except your self-defeating addictions, a lifetime of ¿recovering¿ and the backward looking, disempowering label of ¿alcoholic/addict¿ for life.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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