First there were the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Now, Allen Berger, Ph.D. has come up with 4 gems that all contain dozens of benefits for those in recovery from addiction. They are:
- “12 Stupid Things that Mess Up Recovery”
- “12 More Stupid Things that Mess Up Recovery”
- “12 Smart Things to do When Booze and Drugs are Gone”
- “12 Hidden Rewards of Making Amends”
Dr. Berger writes in a clear and engaging style. His words exude the wisdom of a clinician who deeply understands addiction, our human predicament, and the way out through recovery.
Here are the 12 “Stupid Things” from his first book:
- Believing addiction to one substance is the only problem.
- Believing sobriety will fix everything.
- Pursuing recovery with less energy than pursuing addiction.
- Being selectively honest.
- Feeling special and unique.
- Not making amends.
- Using the program to try to become perfect.
- Confusing self-concern with selfishness.
- Playing futile self-improvement games.
- Not getting help for relationship troubles.
- Believing that life should be easy.
- Using the program to handle everything.
Throughout his writing, Dr. Berger touches on themes of awareness, honesty, humility, false-pride, acceptance, authenticity, and love. He notes that “addiction is a medical condition with a spiritual solution.” He nicely weaves his wisdom with patient anecdotes from his clinical practice.
Dr. Berger starts with an explanation of the four sources of self-destructive behavior:
- Addiction—managing pain with addictive substances and behaviors.
- Ignorance—of our needs, our behaviors and their consequences, and of how to live authentically.
- Unreasonable expectations and emotional dependency—difficulties in living a harmonious life where we are both independent and interdependent.
- Self-erasure and self-hate—struggles with self-awareness, assertiveness, and the core problems of feeling worthy and loveable that so many victims of addiction experience.
One of my favorite pearls that I share with patients from his first book is about expectations. When difficulties arise in life and in relationships, Dr. Berger astutely advises we respond with “Of course!” He notes that “Life is difficult. This is the baseline.” His approach to recovery entails the development of “emotional sobriety,” or “emotional maturity,” in which we learn to humbly and gratefully embrace life on life’s terms and relate with others lovingly and authentically.