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Book Review: Alive Again by Howard C. Samuels with Jane O”Boyle

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The book Alive Again promises to assist addicted persons in getting back their sanity and returning to a more normal, enjoyable life without drugs and/or alcohol. After reading its contents and actually trying some of the author’s recommended prescriptive steps, I found it easy to understand that he had actually been through his own serious addiction. He refers to this dependence as the “beast” within himself that he finally conquered.

After a terrific struggle and remaining sober since 1984, author Samuels has written down his own prescriptive 12 step program that could help me, or you, or any addicted person defeat their “beast.” Alive Again states unquestionably that a truly dependent person may claim s/he wants help, but unless that person has hit rock bottom, therapy of any kind is fruitless.

So, what is rock bottom? This is the deep pit floor where a person has mentally moved beyond shame, lying, stealing, hiding, cheating, and even doing days behind bars. This is where the very first step, the most crucial step occurs. The addict admits to himself and to the world at large that “I am an addict and I want help.”

The author would be the first person to tell the addict that professional help is a must. Notice I said, “professional help,” not family members or even the best of friends. Alive Again is merely a prescriptive guidebook after a true professional therapist has actually entered the picture. It will be this specialized individual who will interrupt the addict’s feelings of worthlessness, meaninglessness, and despair to restore a feeling of well being and genuine self worth.

During ongoing therapy that may take many months, a counselor will motivate a dependent person to push on — and to avoid relapse; and if-and-when that occurs, so what! It’s time to psychically shift gears, stand up, and drive on. Each charted minute, hour, day, week, etc. without dependence, if marked on a real calendar, in itself can show progress — and as that time span lengthens, any small achievement, in itself, can be self rewarding.

What I liked most about Alive Again were the open ended statements at each step where an addict must write down on paper her/his thoughts about their condition. This can be very painful. Some months ago, I was told by my doctor that if I continued to consume alcohol, I was heading for kidney and liver failure. I have personally found Alive Again helpful in admitting to myself what was happening to me physically.

As a result, I’ve included here some of my answers to Alive Again’s open ended statements (shortened by me) on page 123. The italicized part is my own response.

  • When I obsess about using alcohol, my thoughts focus on: making myself feel better.
  • Usually, the consequences of this are: I don’t stick to just two beers, I have five or six or more instead.
  • Even though I know better, I’ve been telling myself and others: that if I drink beer instead of hard liquor, it’s okay.
  • The signs that I cannot ignore my drinking any longer are: test results: I’m killing my body organs.
  • I first suspected I had a problem when: no amount of alcohol seemed to really affect me.
  • I am willing to live my life differently: in order to stay alive and healthy for my wife, my children and grandchildren — all who want me around.

I’m sure this is not what one would expect in a book review, but it is the most honest and sincere way I know to show you the benefits of reading Alive Again. This book can help you. At each of author Samuel’s 12 steps, there are many lead-in statements that will force you to look in a mirror and see your own beast. In so many ways, as seen by a this reviewer who is no longer a young man, life is so very quick and very short. Why make it shorter! Addiction is indeed a beast but that monster can be tamed.

If you have any kind of addiction and truly want help, seek ye first a professional therapist then buy Alive Again, and follow it feverishly day by day. It just may save your life and it is worth saving.

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About Regis Schilken