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Recovery: Freedom from Our Addictions

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A guide to all kinds of addiction from a star who has struggled with heroin, alcohol, sex, fame, food, and eBay, that will help addicts and their loved ones make the first steps into recovery.

"This manual for self-realization comes not from a mountain but from the mud.... My qualification is not that I am better than you but I am worse." (Russell Brand)

With a rare mix of honesty, humor, and compassion, comedian and movie star Russell Brand mines his own wild story and shares the advice and wisdom he has gained through his 14 years of recovery. Brand speaks to those suffering along the full spectrum of addiction - from drugs, alcohol, caffeine, and sugar addictions to addictions to work, stress, bad relationships, digital media, and fame. Brand understands that addiction can take many shapes and sizes and how the process of staying clean, sane, and unhooked is a daily activity. He believes that the question is not "why are you addicted?" but "what pain is your addiction masking? Why are you running - into the wrong job, the wrong life, the wrong person's arms?"

Russell has been in all the 12-step fellowships going, he's started his own men's group, he's a therapy regular and a practiced yogi - and while he's worked on this material as part of his comedy and previous best sellers, he's never before shared the tools that really took him out of it, that keep him clean and clear. Here he provides not only a recovery plan but an attempt to make sense of the ailing world.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

288 pages, Hardcover

First published September 21, 2017

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About the author

Russell Brand

30 books1,618 followers

Russell Edward Brand is an English comedian, actor, radio host, author, and activist. Brand dresses in a flamboyant bohemian fashion describing himself as looking like an "S&M Willy Wonka." Brand's current style consists of black eyeliner, drainpipe jeans, Beatle boots, and long, shaggy, backcombed hair.

In October 2010, Brand married pop singer Katy Perry. The two separated in December 2011.
Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,040 reviews
Profile Image for Khurram.
1,665 reviews6,663 followers
September 22, 2023
I really wanted to like this book and more than I actually did. I wanted to give this book 3.5 stars. It might be the fact that I actually do like Russell Brand and the message of the behind the book more than I actually liked the book.

There are parts of the book that are very good to great, but there are parts that are a bit out of place a couple of Russell’s antidotes seem out of place and I am not sure the go with the step he was trying to portray.

One of the things that does come across is the idea that this is not an easy process. It is hard work. Whatever a person is addicted to (in my case, coffee), they (I) could think of a hundred different justifications why it is ok. Even though I know I am addicted I am ok with it. I am allowed one vice, right? The program goes through the process of saying no, it is not ok. It is also no good replacing one addiction with another. Also, once an addiction is beaten, it is a constant battle not to relapse.

The other message Russell preaches/talks of is that he was probably more of a mess than most people do. If it could work for him, I can work for anyone. One thing that does not probably help this book is that Russell is naturally a funny man, but he is talking about a very serious subject where humour works against it. Thought adding a load of F-bombs does not make things funnier or relatable.

All in all, it is quite a heavy book, but someone who has had success with this program and wants others to enjoy the same thing. However he does remind the reader just because he is on the right path now it is a constant battle for him, and there are people who can’t be saved, do not want to be saved or fall back in their old habits. The battle ground of the soul is constant.
Profile Image for Emma.
986 reviews1,003 followers
November 6, 2017
I've never been a huge fan of Russell Brand, but even before reading this I thought it was pretty fair to say he's someone who just might have something to offer on the subject of addiction. Actually, I was surprised by just how disarming his honesty was in the book, the level of brutal self-reflection he achieves in his writing here, and clearly in his path to coping with various addictions, was both moving and inspiring. It's not easy taking a long hard look at yourself, at the choices that you've made and the inner workings of your mind; and not just looking but seeing what and why and how and then maybe, just maybe, having the strength and courage to change yourself.

Now i'm not even close to having the same issues he has, but that's the point of this book. Addiction is not always about drugs or alcohol or other serious life-threatening affairs, it's about any behaviour we've lost control over, where the response of our unconscious mind takes over, like when I have a bad day and reach for an entire bag of cookies to 'make myself feel better'. Does it? Maybe for 5 mins, before I feel sick and fat and like a failure for once again being so damn stupid. It's pretty recognisable behaviour, one which runs through everyone to one degree or another. We are all looking for ways to feel better or cope or block things out or lose the fear so we can connect with others. Whatever the reason, Brand is saying that there are better ways to do it, ones which we have control over and which don't harm us physically, mentally, spiritually, or in any other way an addiction might.

Because he's who he is, all of this is done is simple, amusing, and straight forward language. He titled it Recovery: Freedom From Our Addictions. I would call it Recovery: Lose all the Bullshit. There's a clear plan to follow, 12 well worn steps that have worked the world over. That's not to say it would be easy to go this route, getting to the end of this path would mean dealing with some issues not everyone might be ready to face about themselves, but at least now they might be able to see how it could be approached and where to go for help. It's a starting point.

This is a really good book about helping yourself for those that hate all that airy fairy self-help rubbish. Recommended.
Profile Image for Mel.
117 reviews95 followers
October 19, 2017
There is a little anecdote in the book where Brand is speaking with a counselor, a grueling session that has gone on and detailed the darkest parts of his life and the severity of his addictions. When she stops speaking she looks at him awestruck, and in that little pause, that on a sheet of paper is 2 tiny spaces, your mind reels with the thoughts that could fill pages... She simply tells him what a survivor he is to have found drugs. Think about that.

5 *'s? Sure. When an author expresses himself with such sincerity, intimacy, and intelligence -- I am inclined to feel gratitude for the shared experience. (And never has the phrase "F*ed up* sounded so proper.) I also thought Brand's definition of addiction and how that broadened interpretation fit into our current world was significant. I bought this book (and the audio version which is narrated by Brand) to expand my understanding of addictions and recovery, and also as a reader that has experience with the subject professionally and within my family that is always looking to better understand. I've read extensively on the subject, lived with it, and worked with addicts. And I think that sadly, that has become the norm.

Brand doesn't give us anything new here other than his own experience and testimony of the 12-Step program, but he does it with more insight, expanding the concept of *Higher Power* with wisdom and his own comedic touch. He applies the 12-steps to a wide variety of the obstacles that might be keeping us from being the person we are meant to be (drugs, alcohol, food, anger, selfishness, depression, etc.). Rather than just educating myself, I came away with a desire to improve myself and be a little more at peace in my environment, and a little enlightenment. Some clinicians argue against the 12 Step program concerned that a participant would only be replacing one addiction with another...I think Brand gives an eloquent argument against that opinion.

Brand has walked that razor-thin edge most of his life and knows the struggle very personally. This is a more than just his story fit into a guidebook, more than just another life preserver thrown out to those sinking. Brand seems to jump in and buoy up the drowning, and I am convinced he'd do just that. It's a fervent plea to those struggling under their own destructive burdens not to give up. By sharing his detailed journey, the hidden pains and the glorious celebration of the birth of his daughter, he is convincing that it's possible to not only gain back wellness but to be embraced by a world where you are an integral part of a journey toward being F-ing magnificent. *It's Russell Brand...uncensored. It's intelligent, heartfelt, endearing, very funny, and maybe a *thank you for Life* written to the author's own Higher Power.
Profile Image for John.
55 reviews2 followers
August 2, 2017
Fantastic...I laughed, I cried, I nearly peed myself! Russell takes you on an expedition of self-actualization and wonder. He lays out a convincing argument espousing we are all just experiencing a temporary journey through what Prince would call "this thing called 'life.'" It is an absolute must read, and the new "Under the Skin" podcast (subscribe here! subscribe here!) is a must hear. Rusty you blimey done it again mate, I can't turn me head round without you breaking more barriers between us and a total universal collective consciousness!! Love you Russ! Muah!
Profile Image for Noran Azmy.
34 reviews9 followers
October 6, 2017
Never has the controversial genre of Self Help been graced by a more beautiful, a more eloquent, a more truthful or a more effective addition to its aisles. Russel Brand is a poet, and a very human human being who is very good at understanding other human beings and calling them out. I'm not sure if it's entirely fair that I took a star away from this book; even in its beautiful prose, it's far from perfect, but it's still perfectly marvelous. Recommended to any human being.
Profile Image for Melania 🍒.
545 reviews87 followers
September 8, 2018

I really liked this. It’s obvious that Russell is a very interesting and intelligent person, I was amazed by how beautiful he can write. The book is part personal memoir and part self help, following a 12 step program for getting rid of basically any type of addiction that a human being can have.

I didn’t necessarily agree with everything that was written, but there were some very interesting ideas in this book. Also, it was deeply personal in places, so I guess it wasn’t easy for Russell to be this open and sincere with the whole world. It’s something I really appreciate. And seeing the growth in his persona was phenomenal.

I’m not sure to whom I would recommend this, but if you’re struggling with a demon in your life, reading this can be a first step in finding a way to be the person you’re supposed to be.
Profile Image for J Singh.
24 reviews2 followers
October 17, 2019
Russell Brand here has put together a 12-step comprehensive and very detailed recovery program for addicts who suffer in their multiple or singular addictions. A proven program derived from his personal experiences, as he describes his approach, experience and results in each of the 12 steps. Packed with his individual flair, humour, honesty and creativity, this proved to be a very entertaining and intellectual read. He has most certainly delved into the depths of his own consciousness to understand life in his own mind that reflects his reality. A very deep self-analysis set of tools and techniques have been created here which aim to essentially help and aid the recovery of one's mental state and wellbeing.

Understanding how certain behaviours and characteristics can affect your life, for example having a big ‘EGO’ will never lead to anything other than inner suffering and misery.

Exploring the very core of your mind and understanding how to regulate patterns to help promote positive change into your life. He does this by challenging your current perspective and displays a detailed account of how you can recover and improve your emotions, thoughts and feelings of misery and unhappiness. It is a very particle approach for anyone and not just those with well know serious addictions i.e. alcohol, sex and drugs. It allows anyone to enter the realm of reprogramming their minds to improve their quality of life. Tools to help you understand the areas of concern or difficulties and creating structured and effective solutions to counter them.

Overall a very intellectual display of effective ways of how one can really push past the depths of their misery. A collective approach to decode the fragments of your mind/misery and recode fundamental happiness, which was once there, or forever longs to be there. That very sense of hope deep within is reignited and supported by the architecture of a positive, uplifting and very supporting perspective. I would recommend this book to all and not just those who suffer from a serious addiction, everyone has the ability to take something constructive away after reading this book. Excellent work by Russell Brand.
Profile Image for Kate Taylor.
140 reviews4 followers
October 4, 2017
If you are even the slightest bit unhappy or dissatisfied with your life and want to make changes but don't know how, I urge you to read this book. It sets out the 12 Steps programme and how you apply it to your life in order for you to realise and recognise the patterns that you continually make that cause you unhappiness and how you go about re-programming your mind to avoid making them in future. Don't think that this book just applies to the well known "serious" addictions of alcohol, drugs, sex etc; Russell Brand argues that anyone who regularly feels anxious, not good enough, overwhelmed etc is on the addiction spectrum and can be helped by following this programme. After reading, I tend to agree and intend to re-read and follow the programme. Above anything else, what I loved most about this book was how practical it was; there was no "if you're feeling depressed, try not to be depressed" aspect to this book and instead exercises that enable proper self-reflection and hard work. I know following this programme isn't going to be easy but thanks to this book, I feel a real sense of hope that change is possible and that things don't have to stay as they are.
Profile Image for Mohammad.
112 reviews18 followers
October 21, 2017
Throughout the entire book, I couldn't stop wishing for everyone I know to read this.

I don't think there was anything i didn't know, but it had the things i love from self help books, plus the things i can tolerate from mystical books, and the things i like about new atheism, and some other stuff all in one place, organized and beautifully put.
Profile Image for Alicia Huxtable.
1,714 reviews56 followers
November 6, 2017
Ok, to be 100% honest, up until I read this book, I always thought Russell Brand was just a moronic comedian.....this Book proved me more than a little wrong. It is a slap in the face to say the least. Everything Russell talks about in this book, or program, whichever you wish to call it, makes you take a step back and look at your life. Yes, it can be tough but, and I can say this honestly, it is an eye opener. He is so open and honest and raw that you can't help but want to follow his steps and improve your own life. Highly recommending this one
Profile Image for Mustafa Hameed.
3 reviews5 followers
October 26, 2017
A very honest, sincere and well-written book with a broad appeal. I read it in a day, so quite an engrossing read too. Those who are easily put off by segues into Brandesque spiritual "claptrap", should not be put off from reading it. He has interpreted the 12-step programme to make it have wider appeal. If you suffer from addictions of any kind, its definitely worth a read.
Profile Image for Simone.
108 reviews
November 13, 2021
I have to be careful when I write a review about this book. Brand writes very beautifully and eloquently. There appeared to be a dichotomy being portrayed by Brand by trying to show humility but at the same time seeping arrogance. All his saying are regurgitated quotes from the 12 step programme and I was disappointed that he lacked originality. I like Brand and I love his rebellion but he sounded like someone who has been brainwashed. I found his frankness about his flaws refreshing but at the same time, like many in a 12 step programme, he is very hard on himself and the inward facing inventory can make people forget there is something good about themselves.
Profile Image for Christine Jolley.
419 reviews12 followers
September 27, 2017
Read the book. This is a great book for the road to recovery. Not a replacement for meetings but this is no different than hearing his experience strength and hope in a meeting. Inspiring and full of wisdom.
Profile Image for Michael.
19 reviews10 followers
October 21, 2017
Russell has a firm grasp on the 12 steps, a relatable life story and an outlook on life I enjoy hearing.

"If you don't choose to work a conscious program, you are being worked by an unconscious program."
Profile Image for Meike.
1,591 reviews2,816 followers
January 18, 2021
It's just fun listening to Russell, he is funny, smart and eloquent, and this book does a good job explaining how 12-step-programs work, thus probably helping people who are hesitant to tackle such a journey although they would highly profit from it. There are some passages that seem slightly self-indulgent, but hey, the author warned us from the beginning about his flaws. You gave to give it to the guy though that he is very serious about his own recovery and helping others, and that he managed to write a self-help book that offers real advice while being entertaining.
Profile Image for Faye.
12 reviews13 followers
November 6, 2017
The writing in this book was wonderful. I love Russell's way with words. There were times in this book I related so much to what he was saying it was extremely emotive for me - particularly those detailing his his day to day interaction with the world and how that lead him to feel. That to me is the beauty of reading when you can relate so heavily to the author. And Russell does not hold back on the truth or his own vulnerability which makes this extremely captivating.

I do not consider myself an addict, but I had read many reviews stating theres also much to be gleaned for 'none-addicts' so I approached it with all the opened mindedness I could - however the reason I don't award this book more than 3 stars is that .. I feel in places that the language is very dangerous. And if you are susceptible to mental illness or just negative thinking in general it can be very disillusioning. Asking questions such as do you feel anxious or depressed or struggling with relationships, emotions, lacking purpose and drive. Well then your plan is not working and you are clearly unable to help yourself and the only hope for you is to adopt this plan and be open to spirituality and believe in a higher power - but you need a mentor and a 12 step group for this. The book doesn't provide a mentor or a 12 step group, if you are a 'none addict' reading this there is unlikely to be any 12 step groups focused at your particular problem unless you live in a large city. I live in a small northern town. This at times made me feel extremely empty and hopeless. Which is what Russell wants you to believe you are so that you want to carry on with the 12 steps. But the 12 steps are not for everyone. And I don't believe feeling occasionally anxious and or depressed and or struggling with relationships or lack of direction means that you are completely 'fucked' and you have no resources or plans to get you out of this other than the 12 steps, I think that it just makes you human.

This is a book that because of this was a difficult read for me and made me feel horrendous for a number of days and that I hadn't really progressed on my mental health journey - but I had. I just think its very dangerous to get readers to believe they are 'fucked' and there is no hope in order to pitch them the 12 steps which isn't ideal for everyone. I can see how this would be great for addicts higher on the addiction spectrum however.

The book has some fascinating ideas but can make you feel helpless. I however on the whole did enjoy this book and loved Russell's writing and was happy to read in its entirety.
Profile Image for Sophie.
506 reviews78 followers
October 29, 2017
Wow. A few months ago my mum told me about this podcast she had started listening to called 'Under the Skin' created and hosted by Russell Brand. I was intrigued by the things she told me about it and so started listening and was captivated by the guests he had on, the topics they discussed and the incredibly honest and vulnerable way he shared parts of his own story. Fast forward a few months and from listening to his podcast I learnt about Russell Brand's newest book Recovery: Freedom from Our Addictions.

This book has that raw authenticity and truth that I love about the podcast. His openness to new ideas and to self-growth. This book takes Alcoholics Anonymous' twelve-step program (something I'd not heard of before starting this book) and adds Russell Brands honest, comedic twist to it. His writing is sometimes magically whimsical and sometimes dark and gritty. He shares some of his own experiences with the twelve-step program and puts it into new wording. You don't have to be dealing with a specific addiction to get things from this book. There's a lot in here, all fascinating and thoughtful and anyone interested in self-growth or who may be feeling anxious or dissatisfied with life would benefit from giving this a try.

I loved the parts about your own higher power (without the need for organised religion) and the importance of believing change is possible. Practical steps to help you release your need for control and self-absorption. The audiobook narrated by Russell Brand himself was fantastic and I'd recommend this book to anyone looking for a new perspective or a way to get more out of life.
Profile Image for Sofia The Great.
1,284 reviews36 followers
May 10, 2018
DNF . I do have a respect for Russell Brand and I think he's very smart. I just can't do this audio book. He makes a point but continues to ramble on and on with analogies. I just kept tuning him out. I like the message he's trying to deliver but it gets lost in his delivery.
Profile Image for Renee.
78 reviews11 followers
November 2, 2019
I've listened to parts of this book (Steps 3, 6, 7) SO MANY TIMES that I can't count. But I just did a start to finish re-listen (3rd time), and I stick by my 5 star rating. It's an amazing book for anyone struggling with a substance or behavior they can't change.

**Listened again and upgraded rating from 4 to 5 stars**
As a person in recovery who did not use a 12-step program for support, I have always thought that 12-step programs were a little too prescriptive and dogmatic to be of use to me. However, I found Russell Brand’s personal spin on the meaning and benefit behind the rules of The Program (i.e. Alcoholics Anonymous) approachable, relatable, and practical. I believe this book (and its free online companion) could help a lot of people in need.
Profile Image for Lynne Spreen.
Author 13 books197 followers
May 12, 2022
What an amazing and beautiful book. Russell Brand has done an extraordinary good thing for the world. The writing is funny, choppy, scary, elaborate, lush, crude, visceral. Twelve of the chapters correlate to the 12 Steps, and each chapter ends with exercises to help the reader understand how to work the step. I laughed out loud, gritted my teeth, and cried, sometimes within the same paragraph. The greatest lesson of this book is that we are all human, with the same flaws and loveliness. No sense pretending otherwise. There is community here. A helpful, lovely book.
4 reviews
October 13, 2017
Great read.

I am a fan of Russell Brand. I haven't read any of his books until now. I really like how he is so honest and how he breaks down the steps w/o religion, but with an understanding that there is something at work that is larger than we are. I also bought the audio so I can listen to him on the way to school. I wish he would create a meditation CD as his voice is calming! I highly recommend this book! ❤
Profile Image for Claudia Turner.
Author 1 book38 followers
May 16, 2018
This was an excellent book on addictions- all types of addictions. Brand is very introspective and observant, a mix of orator, philosopher, sociologist and poet. I so prefer this man to the MTV days Brand, and loved his honesty, insight and humor.
Profile Image for A.
69 reviews7 followers
September 23, 2021
I started this book to understand addiction. I finished this book understanding myself (1% more).

Yep. Changed my life. Holy moly.

Yes - grain of salt - yes - but that’s with anything…Could probably skip the whole anecdote in step 6…

but other than that I was really really impressed with how this managed to communicate that it’s OK and it’s Human to make mistakes, to give in to the monkey mind, to choose the wrong ‘program’ to solve our darkest, deepest woes - it’s human to suffer in this way.

But it’s also human to believe in something greater within, and this is one of the many ways to find that.

Some quotes:
‘The inner condition is what we must address.
When you start to eat, drink, wank, spend, obsess, you have lost connection to the great power within you and others. The power around all things. There is something speaking to you and you don’t understand it because you don’t speak its language - so you try to palm it off with porn but it’s your spirit and it craves connection.
Spend time alone. Write. Pray. Meditate. This is where we learn the language.’

“If we all feel we are alone then how alone are we? If we all feel worthless then who is the currency of our worth being measured against?”

“We are all here suffering together. Our job is to help and love eachother”

“I think it’s part of being human. To carry a wound. A flaw. And again, paradoxically, it is only by facing it that we can progress”

++++ for Alfred the way he speaks of Meditation & solitude.

PS my favourite quote from the book, and a reminder of how much we are changed by everyone we interact with:

‘In chemistry, when two substances are introduced, if either component reacts at all then both are changed forever’
Profile Image for Amy.
134 reviews6 followers
May 12, 2021
I didn't finish it and I was disappointed. The first three chapters were good, and I really enjoyed how thought provoking they were. Russell often gets carried away with how clever he is and uses overly complicated prose throughout, which can be quite distracting and unnecessary. I remember this being his style in stand-up as well.

The disappointment came when I got to the fourth and fifth chapter, which finally admitted the need to join a 12 step programme for the process to really work. I'm a recovering alcoholic who has engaged in the past with AA and found it wasn't for me. The programme has helped millions, but further millions recover from addiction without it's help and I hate the tendency within AA to see this as the only correct long-term solution. It's demoralising when you're chugging through sobriety to be told that you really can't do this properly without a sponsor who's done the programme before. I'm also neuro-atypical and find a lot of these group therapies anxiety-provoking, so instead of being uplifted I came away feeling further deflated that I couldn't do recovery 'correctly'. Thanks, but no thanks.
Profile Image for Barb.
721 reviews40 followers
March 2, 2019
This was really good. It was very deep but still entertaining to read.

I loved this... “I don’t wake up in the morning and think, ‘Wow, I’m on a planet in the Milky Way, in infinite space, bestowed with the gift of consciousness, which I did not give myself, with the gift of language, with lungs that breathe and a heart that beats, none of which I gave myself, with no concrete understanding of the Great Mysteries, knowing only that I was born and will die and nothing of what’s on either side of this brief material and individualized glitch in the limitless expanse of eternity and, I feel, I feel love and pain and I have senses, what a glorious gift! I can relate, and create and serve others or I can lose myself in sensuality and pleasure. What a phenomenal mystery!’ Most days I just wake up feeling a bit anxious and plod a solemn, narrow path of survival, coping. ‘I’ll have a coffee’, ‘I’ll try not to reach for my phone as soon as I stir, simpering and begging like a bad dog at a table for some digital tidbit, some morsel of approval, a text, that’ll do.”
Profile Image for Lia.
281 reviews68 followers
October 18, 2017
started well, fizzled out at the end.

I am often interested in social/consumer books about addiction as I work with drug addicts in my role as a pharmacist.

Russell Brand is undeniably engaging. I really enjoyed his Revolution book from a couple of years ago.

This started strong, with easy to understand, instantly engaging outlines of the 12-step as favoured by many AA type programmes. I cannot pinpoint what brought it down in rating for me, however I feel towards the end it was Brand's humour and wit that kept me engaged not the subject matter itself. A good starting point for anyone seeking help with addictions, whether for themselves or for someone they love.

I strongly recommend listening to it on audio book, to experience the brilliant madness of the author in real time narration.
Profile Image for Scottsdale Public Library.
3,282 reviews262 followers
August 26, 2020
Russell Brand’s "Recovery: Freedom From Our Addiction" is a great guide to begin an understanding of what addiction is. It is a fantastic medley of honesty, humor, and compassion with eye opening perspective that invites the reader to observe any patterns of habits in their own behavior that may be unhealthy. Brand interlaces his own personal experiences with addiction and recovery within his own interpretation of a twelve step program. I enjoyed this book on many levels as Brand carefully weaved comedy and personal tragedy as a tool for not just helping others struggling with addiction, but reminding us that we are not alone in our struggle. -Thomas B.
Profile Image for Ceylan.
25 reviews17 followers
December 9, 2018
I never thought i’d read a book penned by Russell Brand, and yet here I am. My understanding of Brand has mostly come from the tabloids: I’m familiar with his past dependency on narcotics, his ill-fated marriage to Katy Perry, his Hollywood films. But I hadn’t heard about him in some time. He’d dropped off my radar. And then, out of seemingly nowhere, I heard news of the impending release of this book.

My interest in reading it was two-fold: yes i was curious because he is a well-known figure, but on its own, that isn’t enough to draw me in. Primarily, it was the subject matter that was the key factor. Now I won’t falsely purport to have an alcohol or narcotic addiction. But I have experienced other vices, namely internet addiction and compulsive overeating. And having dealt with anxiety and depression, I do look for new ways in which to frame my mental health, new techniques to help me cope with my intervals of low mood. But also, knowing people who have had varying addictions and patterns of negative thinking, I try to find ways to give support and counsel to people close to me.

The book was, admittedly, a bit too spiritual for me, but in saying that, I completely understand why it had to be. Appealing to a higher being can be helpful. All too often people try to fall back on their own resources to pull them through, maybe out of pride or fear of being a burden. But relying on yourself more often than not leads you back to self-medication. So the idea that you don’t have to shoulder it all on your own, that there is a program in existence that has proven to work, is obviously very alleviating. It’s just that for atheists like me, the higher being thing just might be a tad too evangelical.

In the book’s technical aspects, it is well written - a surprise to me as I didn’t know Brand was an accomplished writer. If anything, it is at times over written to disguise the fact that it gets repetitive as it goes along. There is one theme - recovery - and while the structure (the 12 step program) ensures that this theme follows a trajectory, the analysis starts to feel shallow, and dare I say it, a bit prescriptive, after a while. You can skip passages and you won’t really lose out on much.

Through it all I couldn’t quite forget that Brand is speaking from a point of privilege. Sure he was once at rock bottom, but he recovered and flourished. Could he have recovered half as well if he didn’t acquire wealth and fame? Or does he enjoy these things because he has recovered? It is difficult to separate the two. But it is definitely an area worth exploring.

As critical as I am, I still think this book has a lot of merit. It reminded me that life is infinitely better with the support and vindication of people around you, that recovery is futile without crossing the bridge to human connection. It’s important for people to remember that you can’t shoulder the burden of your mental health alone. This doesn’t mean that you find someone who can enable and abet you. But that you find resources, services, programs, support groups and, yes, maybe spirituality (meditation and mindfulness are proven therapeutic tools) to guide you through. In that regard, the book is on point.
Profile Image for John Naylor.
929 reviews15 followers
May 22, 2019
My name is John Naylor.
As I write this review I am 600 days sober (I didn't know the exact number before starting this review. It just worked out well.)

I applaud anybody who can use a 12 step program to both get and maintain sobriety (note: I will use sober in this review to mean free from addiction. I will use it to mean not using or doing a destructive behaviour that a person is addicted to.) I will add that my own experience (and those I have been around) have included variable results with them.

Russell Brand is an extremely intelligent, strangely likeable and often hilarious man. He has made mistakes in life (one rather famous one involving Jonathan Ross will probably never be forgotten) but he has also overcome a lot too. This book goes through how he has managed to maintain sobriety for many years.

He goes through the 12 step program created by the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous. He gives his interpretation of each one and also how he has tried to follow each step. He mentions other addicts and how they have helped him as well as how he has tried to help others. He does this in an often amusing yet thought provoking way. As a writer, Russell is amongst the best on his field.

This is where I open myself up for criticism. I accept that the 12 step program does help many. I know a few people who are clean and sober exclusively due to it. I also know many more who have tried it and it has not worked. Even Russell talks about it as a cult. A helpful cult to many but one that has its own ingrained problems. It is not the only way to maintain sobriety.

When I was in rehab (September 2017) I could have taken the 12 step program. I had my doubts about it and luckily the rehab centre offered an alternative CBT program as well. I have found that program did have a lower relapse rate in the people I attended rehab with. This is not to be taken as evidence that it is more effective. The numbers are too low to make any conclusions for that. I just feel that there always should be an alternative to the program. I will note that there is no mention of this in this book. I accept that this is Russell's story and he has only had one method that has worked for him. I bear witness that other methods work too.

This is definitely a more accessible guide to the 12 steps than the "Big Blue Book". It is also a lot less patronising and gives better examples. This kind of self help book is needed and I am glad it exists. I am also glad of my own sobriety and although I don't follow all the steps some of them are just part of being a decent human being.

I would recommend this to anyone struggling with addiction. Reading it will not make your addiction worse. I hope it helps you. If not, there are alternatives. Addiction is miserable. It is also something that can be beat.
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