Radical Recovery: 12 Recovery Myths: The Addiction Survivor's Guide to the Twelve Steps

Radical Recovery: 12 Recovery Myths: The Addiction Survivor's Guide to the Twelve Steps

by Chuck Kelly


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In reading this book, you will discover that you are much more powerful than your addiction, much more powerful than the obsessive thoughts, compulsive feelings, and physical cravings that create so much pain and suffering in your life and the lives of those you love.

You will learn that there is no future in addiction, just a regrettable past that keeps repeating itself over and over again. You will cut through the recovery myths that result in an endless cycle of relapses.

It can inspire and motivate you to reach deep inside yourself and awaken the extraordinary powers that nature has bestowed on you as it guides you through a process that transforms cravings for alcohol or drugs into cravings for courage, freedom, honesty, integrity, humility, and peace.

According to HBO's documentary, Rehab, of the 2 million people who seek treatment each year in the United States, 1,840,000 will relapse within twelve months; some the first day. That's a 92 percent failure rate. This is a national disgrace.


With more than thirty-five years of continuous sobriety, Kelly presents not a cure but a powerful antidote for addiction, something that counteracts or relieves a harmful or unwanted condition.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781452557113
Publisher: Balboa Press
Publication date: 12/19/2012
Pages: 188
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.43(d)

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Radical Recovery

12 Recovery Myths: The Addiction Survivor's Guide To The Twelve Steps

Balboa Press

Copyright © 2012 Kelly
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4525-5711-3

Chapter One



"I have learned this. It is not what one does that is wrong, but what one becomes as a consequence of it." (Oscar Wilde)

The cover of the book has an image of the Phoenix. In Egyptian mythology, the Phoenix is an immortal bird. When it dies, it bursts into flames, and is reborn from its own ashes. To Rise From the Ashes of the Phoenix means To make a miraculous comeback. If you believe that you are ready To Rise From the Ashes of Addiction, and make a miraculous comeback then Welcome to Radical Recovery.

The word "radical" can bring to mind images of extreme anarchy or violent revolution, but according to Webster's Dictionary, the word radical has a much softer connotation. It is defined as:

1. Getting to the root or origin of something.

2. Thoroughgoing, as regards a change from accepted or traditional forms.

When chemotherapy was first introduced as a method of treating cancer, it was considered a very radical way of getting to the root of the disease, because the "chemo" part of the therapy is a poison. But the poison works. It kills cancer cells. Unfortunately, it also kills healthy cells which results in very unpleasant side effects. The person infected with the poison most often experiences hair loss, nausea, vomiting, etc.

The good news here is that, in many cases, the temporary pain and discomfort that comes with the treatment puts the disease into full remission. The odds of staying in full remission increase, if the cancer survivor does certain other things such as eating healthy foods, exercising, taking prescribed medications, vitamin supplements, and of course, no smoking.

The bad news for us alcoholics and drug addicts is that the odds of becoming a cancer survivor are much greater than the odds of becoming an addiction survivor. Why?

Well, just as we don't consider cigarette smoking a "disease," on some level we tend to link cigarette smoking with alcohol and drugs. Bad habits we would like to get rid of - some day in the future.

Addiction is not just a disease. Left untreated, it is a terminal disease. But we really don't believe this, even though millions of addicts and alcoholics have proven this to us over and over again. Some of the more prominent ones include: Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, Anna Nicole Smith, Janis Joplin, Jimmy Hendricks, John Belushi, etc. While we may give lip service to the idea that we have a terminal disease, our actions and attitudes tell a diff erent story. For example, at meetings newcomers are often told, "Don't rush into the Steps."

Once, while attending a meeting on Step 4: "Made A Fearless and Searching Moral Inventory of Ourselves," a man who had not had a drink in eight years, said, "It took me more than five years to complete Step 4. You didn't get sick overnight; you're not going to get well over night. Easy does it."

Bad advice! He may not have had a drink in eight years, but he sure didn't have anything I wanted.

Imagine being diagnosed with cancer, and going to your first meeting of Cancer Survivors Anonymous. You let everyone know that you are a newcomer. Can you imagine anyone in that room telling you, "Don't rush into getting treatment. Your cancer didn't happen overnight. It's not going to disappear overnight. So, easy does it."

If we really believed that we had a terminal disease, we would read the book, How To Become An Addiction Survivor, otherwise known as Alcoholics Anonymous. We would approach treatment with the same desire, motivation, and passion that someone diagnosed with cancer seeks treatment, the same desire, motivation, and passion that someone who is drowning reaches for a life preserver. But we don't. Why not? The answer should obvious - brain damage. Another reason why we have Step 2, "Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity."

As the chemicals in alcohol and drugs kill more and more of our brain cells, our primitive brain takes over. The primitive brain works on the philosophy of, "If it feels good - do it."

Just as an infant has no access to speech, we have no access to the memory of what happened the last time we picked up a pill, drink, or drug. Here's what happens as the disease progresses.

We go into a coma, which is defined as: "A state of prolonged unconsciousness, including a lack of response to stimuli, from which it is impossible to rouse a person." This is pretty accurate because:

We look - but we don't see.

We hear - but we don't listen.

We touch - but we don't feel.

Another reason we fail to believe we have a terminal disease is that - we don't believe that rules and odds apply to us. We like to make up our own rules and odds and about life. For example, in addition to not really believing that addiction, left untreated, is a terminal disease, we really don't believe that cigarette smoking causes lung cancer, emphysema, heart disease, etc. If we did, we would stop smoking, but about 90 percent of the people who seek treatment for alcohol or drugs are also addicted to nicotine. I sympathize! I smoked two packs a day for many years.

The Disease of Chemical Dependency, whether it's an addiction to pills, alcohol, drugs, nicotine, or the comfort we get from eating unhealthy foods, is cunning, baffling, and powerful. That's one reason why the relapse rate is so high.

But, was it always this way?

Let's look at the history of our fellowship. The original members of A.A. tell us:

"Of alcoholics who came to A.A. and really tried, 50% got sober at once, and remained that way; 25% sobered up after some relapses, and among the remainder, those who stayed on with A.A. showed improvement." (A.A. Page xx)

According to the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 80% of the drug addicts and alcoholics coming out of treatment centers relapse within twelve months; some, the first day, (www.ncadi.samhsa.gov). HBO's documentary, REHAB, states that the relapse rate is much worse, more than 90%. Either way, the cost to the U.S economy, including actual treatment, time lost from work, wrecked cars, imprisonment, etc. is about $180 billion a year.

The reason we need such a "radical" approach to recovery is that we need a change from accepted and traditional forms.

While an 80% to 90% failure rate may be very traditional, I believe it is unacceptable; that's why I am writing this book; that's why I have pioneered new, cutting edge approaches to treating addiction.

The problem we face is much bigger than pills, alcohol, or drugs. These substances are just symptoms of the problem, and so long as we continue to treat the symptom, we will continue to relapse, and we will continue to die from this disease. The following story illustrates the point.

A man who grew up in a small rural community visited a large city for the first time. When he returned, his friends asked him: "What was it like?"

He responded:

"Such tall buildings - such small people."

If you were asked to write a report on our society's achievements, you could state that:

1. We have found cures for many diseases.

2. We have put men on the moon.

3. We have made great scientific discoveries, and

4. We have made many significant technological advancements:

• E-mail and texting give us instant communication.

• Microwave ovens have freed up hours of time spent on food preparation.

• With high-tech cell phones we can call anyone, anytime, anywhere.

• The internet gives us instant access to information on any subject.

• Wall Street Warriors created billions of dollars to help people buy homes.


The Wall Street Warriors, driven by greed, created a mortgage crisis that sent millions of Americans into bankruptcy, and left many of us with homes that are worth far less than what we paid for them.

With the internet, sexual predators have gained access to our children.

With online gambling, porno sites, and chat rooms, we can feed our addictive appetites twenty-four hours a day.

Combining texting and driving has proved to be a lethal combination.

With microwave ovens we eat more, but we communicate less.

Obesity has become the number one cause of preventable death in the United States.

With all the advances we have made, not too many great men and women have emerged. Those few that have demonstrated greatness, through service to mankind, seldom made the headlines.

Many of our "heroes" have fallen: Tiger Woods, Bernie Madoff, Rupert Murdoch, and platoons of senators, governors, mayors, congressmen, clergy, lawyers, doctors, high school teachers, community leaders, and army generals who got caught with their hands is someone's pants or someone's pocket.

How does this happen? We don't just go running away from our core values. We drift away, a day at a time, and one day we wake up in the middle of a nightmare, in a place we never meant to be.

The springboard for getting back to the core values that brought us joy, peace, self-esteem, and a healthy form of self-love almost always comes in the form of a crisis. We hit a mental, emotional, physical, financial, or spiritual bottom.

The Chinese use a combination of two characters for the word crisis. These two characters designate danger and opportunity. This seems to be true of every crisis. For some of us, the crisis is like a speed bump, for others it's a brick wall. But either way, it is a turning point. Depending on how well we make the turn, we can find danger, opportunity, or death. We need to re-mind ourselves, and be re-minded about:

1. Our purpose - Conform our will to God's will.

2. Our goal - Victory over alcohol and drugs

3. The solution - To grow along spiritual lines.

This is why it is important to seek out Step and Big Book meetings where the focus is on the solution, and avoid BGT meetings, Bad Group Therapy, where the focus is on: "Who has a problem they would like to discuss?" With therapy, a person is seeking a solution for their problem. With meetings, many times, the person speaking is not seeking a solution. They just want to dump their story on the group. We can dump our stories on sponsors, friends, clergy, and psychologists. They are usually good listeners. This is the right place to do our dumping. According to Bill Wilson:

"Sobriety - freedom from alcohol, through the teaching and practice of A.A.'s Twelve Steps, is the sole purpose of the group. If we don't stick to this cardinal principle, we shall almost certainly collapse. And if we collapse, we can't help anyone." (As Bill Sees It - Page 79)

Was Bill misguided here?

Aren't meetings where we go to share all our personal problems with the group?

When newcomers get triggered at meetings by graphic alcohol and drug stories, when they get depressed by all the negativity, when the relapse rate is a national disgrace, we have to wonder:

Was Bill right about the sole purpose of the group?

Have we forgotten this cardinal principle?

Have we again taken the easier softer way?

Have we collapsed?

One of the greatest assets we possess as human beings is our ability to adapt.

If our homes are destroyed by tornadoes, fires, earthquakes, or hurricanes, we adapt to temporary surroundings.

What initially feels very awkward and strange, gradually becomes a permanent part of our daily routine.

Over time, we stop comparing our old way of living with our new way of living.

A new reality emerges.

That's what happened to me!

As my alcohol and drug use increased, and I became more and more mentally impaired, the door to that old way of living began to close - slowly.

I didn't see it coming.

As long as I could see any opening in the door, I was able to con myself into believing that I didn't have a problem. But the day eventually arrived when the millions of brain cells I killed, finally took their toll.

I began to feel like the popcorn machine Andrew Auw describes in his poem, Out Of Order.

Here, he comes upon the scene of a young mother trying to explain to her four year old boy that the popcorn machine is broken; that it just isn't capable of giving out its contents.

I believe this poem mirrors the crisis we face as alcoholics and drug addicts.


"You can't get any popcorn, child. The machine is out of order. See, there's a sign on the machine."

But he didn't understand. After all, He had the desire. He had the money. He could see the popcorn inside the machine. And yet somehow, somewhere, Something was wrong Because He couldn't get the popcorn. The boy walked back with his mother, And he wanted to cry. I too felt like weeping, Weeping for people who have become Locked in, jammed, and broken Filled with goodness That other people need and want And yet may never come to enjoy Because Something has gone wrong Inside.

Chapter Two



"These are the only genuine ideas, the ideas of the shipwrecked. All the rest is rhetoric, posturing, farce." (Jose Ortega y Gasset)

We are different, but the same, in that each of us is born with a spark of the divine inside us. Our efforts should be directed toward fanning this spark until it becomes a flame, and then a torch, that converts the darkness of addiction into the light of freedom.

Meditation ignites the spark of the Divine inside us.

If we are willing to make it part of our daily routine, like brushing our teeth, it becomes a flame, and then a torch, that enables us to live balanced lives.

Recovery is about replacing old self-destructive habits, with new positive habits that enable, empower, inspire, and motivate us to live happy, useful, and productive lives.

How much time did you spend each day thinking about, obtaining, using, or recovering from the excesses of alcohol or drugs? If you were to now use that time to meditate, you would probably be meditating for many hours every day. So, "I don't have time to mediate," is not an acceptable excuse.

Meditation takes us on a journey of self-discovery.

This is why it's a Maintenance Step, something we should do every day because it opens the door to a world of imagination, intuition, creativity, and power. It gives us access to a Force and Strength that is much more powerful than our addiction, much more powerful than the obsessive thoughts, compulsive feelings, and physical cravings that control and dominate our lives.

Just as healthy foods give our body the energy and power it needs to perform at the highest level, meditation gives us access to the energy and power we need, as human beings, to perform at the highest level.

It keeps our body, mind, senses, and emotions in balance.

In going through the dis-covery process that meditation provides, we become enlightened.

We discover that we are not our body; that our body is the house in which we live.


Think of a house as a metaphor for recovery. There may be aspects of your house that you find lacking. Perhaps the roof leaks, there are holes in some of the walls, the plumbing doesn't work, or the electrical outlets are without power.

These problems are like the character defects that make our lives unmanageable.

When we stop drinking and using drugs, it's like painting the outside of the house, and putting a sign on front lawn which says: NEW AND IMPROVED - but the underling reality remains the same.

If the inside of the house is in shambles, then no sign in the world will make a bit of difference. The only thing that will really improve the situation is to make the necessary repairs.

The Twelve Steps are the home improvement tools we need to make repairs in the house of our life. Just as we can create comfortable homes by replacing worn out plumbing, patching damaged walls, and making electrical repairs, we can recreate our lives.

As we continue this process of self-discovery, we become less concerned about what people think about the outside of our house and more concerned about what's inside.

In the early years of recovery, as we continue to practice the spiritual principles of the Twelve Steps, as a way of life, our brain begins to heal from the terrific beating and battering it received by the chemicals in pills, alcohol, and drugs.

We begin to wake up.

We start to become conscious and aware of the core values we stored far way in the basement of our house.

With meditation, we discover that "spiritual principles, plus the program of action will solve all our problems." (A.A. Page 42)

To put this in perspective, use your imagination.

Picture a chariot, a charioteer, and five horses.

THE CHARIOT is your body.

THE FIVE HORSES are your five senses.

THE CHARIOTEER human intelligence, is your mind.

THE REINS are your Spirit, a "higher" form of Intelligence.

As you can see, we have much in common.

Our bodies desire pleasure and comfort.

Our senses take delight in providing our bodies with all the pleasure and comfort it wants: food, sex, alcohol, drugs, etc.

At the beginning, it's a very enjoyable experience, but over time, as we let our senses, the horses, run our lives, we lose balance and control.

We get lost.

We end up in a great deal of pain.

We cry out for help.

The Charioteer, hearing our cry for help, picks up the reins. The rational part of our mind takes control. All goes well for a while, but the rational part of our mind has a significant limitation.

When the senses pull on it, it can justify and rationalize that it's okay to loosen its grip on the reins and permit a little self indulgence. And a little self-indulgence is good.

But when it comes to pills, alcohol, sex, and drugs, as a species, we don't indulge, we devour, we over indulge.

For example, obesity and nicotine addiction are two top causes of preventable death in the U.S.


Excerpted from Radical Recovery by KELLY Copyright © 2012 by Kelly. Excerpted by permission of Balboa Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


Myth 1: ADDICTION IS A BAD HABIT NOT A DISEASE....................15
Myth 2: I AM DIFFERENT FROM YOU....................25
Myth 3: WE ARE POWERLESS OVER OUR ADDICTION....................35
Myth 4: WE NEED A HIGHER POWER TO RECOVER....................49
Myth 5: JUST DON'T PICK UP....................63
Myth 7: MEETING MAKERS MAKE IT....................87
Myth 8: THERE IS NO CURE FOR ADDICTION....................99
Myth 9: WE HAVE TO GET OUT OF THE DRIVER'S SEAT....................111
Myth 10: THE STEPS SHOULD BE TAKEN IN ORDER....................121
Myth 11: OUR DISEASE SPEAKS TO US....................133
Myth 12: WILL-POWER IS USELESS WITH ADDICTION....................141

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