12 Smart Things To Do When The Booze And Drugs Are Gone


The author of the classic 12 Stupid Things That Mess Up Recovery offers a fresh list of “smart” things to do to attain and sustain emotional sobriety.



Dr. Berger is one of the first clinicians to recognize the importance of emotional sobriety. In fact he believes that emotional sobriety is the key to stability and long term recovery.

Whether it’s called dry-drunk syndrome or white knuckle sobriety or sober suffering, it’s that moment in recovery when we realize that “putting the plug in the jug” isn’t enough. We need something more. We need emotional sobriety. With the twelve practices outlined in this book, people in recovery can discover a way to achieve emotional freedom and emotional sobriety. 



My name is Matt Blagys.  I am a licensed clinical psychologist and the clinical director of an addiction and dual diagnosis residential treatment center in Novato, CA (Marin County outside of San Francisco).  I had previously read your “12 Stupid Things” book and have just finished reading “12 Smart Things”.  They have both been life changing for me and I wanted to thank you for writing them.

I have significant training in psychoanalysis, working with treatment resistance, and utilizing somatic trauma interventions.  I also strongly believe in AA and its teachings for living, though I am not in personal addiction recovery.

Though I have felt both are necessary for recovery and highly compatible, I have often felt a troubling disconnect between the psychological and addiction arms of recovery treatment.  I feel like your books and their focus on emotion dependence/sobriety provide an incredible point of integration between psychology, the neurobiology of emotions, the centrality of relationships, and the 12 step model.

I can’t thank you enough for the depth of understanding I feel I have gained from reading your books.  They are practical as well as deeply thought provoking and emotionally touching.  I look forward to integrating the wisdom gleaned from my reading into our treatment program!”


Dr. Matt Blagys


“This book has a plethora of powerful messages and techniques that engender hope and inspiration. Berger’s style speaks directly to the often socially isolated addict in recovery. Individuals who struggle to break free from self-sabotaging patterns and themes of behaviors.

I regularly recommend it to my clients, people who want to go beyond the 12 steps and psychotherapy. Berger empathically explores the human condition’s need to harness the principles of psychology/spirituality/mindfulness. His powerful techniques can become tools to bring people back into present-moment-awareness.

I love this book. Allen Berger is a wise, informed and possesses generosity of the spirit – hallmarks of a great healer.”


Ms. Em Hearn – UK


“I love this book, and I have probably read it 8 times and will probably read it 8 more times minimum. You don’t need to be an alcoholic or a drug addict to benefit from these skills for becoming emotionally sober or as I would tag it, spiritually mature!! There is SO much here to help anyone learn to look at life and situations from a more freeing perspective. I can’t say enough about this book! One of my all time biggest blessings!!”




“If you are a recovering person and want to take your recovery to the next level, then read Dr. Berger’s book. As great as the book is, it cannot live up to seeing Dr. Berger present this material at a live seminar. If you want to see what a skilled Clinician looks like, then do not miss one of his seminars if the opportunity arises.”


Amazon Customer – Greensboro, North Carolina


“I have been in recovery for 28 years and am very familiar with Bill Wilson’s letter on Emotional Sobriety. I have been reading and studying this piece of writing in an attempt to have my deeper rooted character defects “cast out” as the 12-step process had done with my alcoholism in my early sobriety. It wasn’t until I read Dr. Berger’s book that not only was I able to identify more fully with Bill’s dilemma (one unhealthily dependent person to another unhealthily dependent person), but was provided with awareness and concrete direction as to what I could do about it! Truth is, I sat down to read a few chapters and had a powerful awakening to my problem and its solution… I could not put this book down until I was finished. Dr. Berger spoke to my dis-ease and my emotional recovery. I highly recommend this book for anyone struggling for lasting inner peace.”


H. Fransisco


“Any person whom is in recovery will benefit from this book. I recommend this book highly——-it is, without question, the most important book I am aware of in my 17+ years in AA. There is awareness and information in this book that, when heeded/practiced, contains the seeds to plant a personal perpetual garden laden in constant life enhancing personal growth that will give emotional sobriety/freedom/peace. Buy this book!”


Michael T. Williams


“This book is very good and has given me some new insights into growing up emotionally and “holding on to myself”. I have always looked to others for my worth and balance, and this book gives you “12 Smart Things” to help you hold on to your true self, and to value your own opinion over that of everyone else. This is critical to find true peace, joy, and personal freedom. I am not there yet, but learning how to soothe myself, and talk to myself in a new way is beginning to make a difference.

The introduction is a little clinical and tedious, but once you get passed that, it is all good. I am currently in the process of reading it the 2nd time, and will probably be one of my “go to” books in the future. I would highly recommend this book too anyone who struggles with possessing joy and peace on a continuous basis, addicted or not. I have not had a problem with drugs or alcohol, but I certainly am codependent (a term that gripes my Al-Anon cohorts. lol)”




“12 Smart Things to Do When the Booze and Drugs are Gone provides a brilliant overview on one of my favorite topics: emotional sobriety in second-stage recovery. Dr. Berger breaks down this often-overlooked topic into several useful and practical categories, giving the reader solid practices in which to follow. It will surely enhance your on-going journey in sobriety and is a great read at any stage of recovery. Bravo, Dr. Berger!”


Ingrid Mathieu, Ph.D. – Author of Recovering Spirituality: Achieving Emotional Sobriety Through Spiritual Practice


“As of today 09-04-11 I have 600 days clean I relapsed after four years. I read this book through and found it to be a very easy read and will try out the task from the book. I think and hope it is as helpful as it is hopeful. This book is very well written and I wish I would have found it first time around.”


Ron Bird, Jr.


“I purchased this book for a family member; however, I first read the book myself. Flip open the cover and you’ll have a hard time putting it down! Resist the urge to read through in one sitting. Instead, take the time to contemplate each chapter.

This book is about “emotional sobriety” (emotional maturity). Although I’ve never been addicted to a mind-altering substance, I found the information contained therein invaluable as, I suspect, the whole of mankind would benefit from some assistance with their emotional maturity. I am, therefore, ordering multiple copies for many more of my loved ones!”


Sachimos Mom


“In the plethora of books written about addiction, Dr. Berger’s stands out in it’s beautiful simplicity and wonderful practicality. Underlying all addictive behaviors are the drivers that keep them going. Those are submerged as the victims of these diseases struggle to find their way out of darkness. As addicts are able to separate out from their bio-chemical entrapments, those drivers re-emerge and become the most important issues to deal with. Dr. Berger not only points them out, but gives wise and practical counsel as to heal them so that addictive pulls will have less magnetic attraction in the future. I have not only bought multiple copies of this book for my own patients but would recommend it to any other therapists who face the frustrations of watching treasured patients re-succumb to their disease. I wish there were more books of this kind to help people in all of their emotional battles.”


Randi Gunther, Ph.D.


“Dr. Berger has done it again! 12 Smart Things is an easy to understand discussion of emotional sobriety. This little book is packed with instructions on how to grow beyond simple abstinence from alcohol and other drugs and includes A.A. founder Bill Wilson’s letter from 1958 to a depressed friend. Bill’s insights on his own emotionally and spiritually stunted growth set the stage for Dr. Berger’s up to date information on the topic. With examples from his own clients and life, Dr. Berger illustrates this often neglected part of recovery. As an M.D. Addictionist, I will recommend it to all of my patients! Thank you, Dr. Berger!”


Doc Dawn


“The subtitle of the book is “Choosing Emotional Sobriety Through Self Awareness and Right Action.” This would have been a better title for the book because the audience actually includes smokers and weight loss personal as much as those in AA. The book is small and attractive and is presented in a simple manner. In fact while it is presented in a simple manner it is by no means easy to enact.

Dr. Allen Berger did twenty years under the tutelage of one of the all time great master therapists Walter Kempler, M.D.  Thus, there is a deep resonating authenticity about Dr. Berger’s writings that goes much deeper than the simplicity of the presentation and therefore the book has a much wider applicability than its title suggests. I mean if you think about it, who couldn’t use a little more emotional sobriety.

In fact one might say that the lack of emotional sobriety is at the root of all human misfortune! In this regard the world is a better place in that a modern day warrior has chosen to make recovery his life’s work.

Dr. Berger has done well in applying the Gestalt teachings of Dr. Kempler to the human condition.”


Len Bergantino, ED.D., Ph.D., ABPP

Additional information

Weight .75 lbs
Dimensions 6 × 1 × 9 in


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