Breaking Through is McDougall’s inspirational story of astonishing transformation from a hard rock miner in Northern Ontario, as deep in alcoholism as he was underground, and his journey back into the light to become a motivational speaker. His achingly painful story recounts a boyhood filled with abuse, neglect, and frail health, and how, as a young adult, alcohol became the answer to his self-loathing. During twenty years as a miner, he was essentially digging himself a grave. He descended from a functional alcoholic into a desolate, alcohol-fueled underworld.
McDougall only hit rock bottom when his body rebelled. A day came when he couldn’t take a sip of alcohol without throwing up. He contemplated suicide, but turned instead to his union’s Employee Assistance Program for help. So began McDougall’s struggle to “claw his way out of his personal cave-in” to a new life of sobriety and hope.
His hard-fought transformations are astonishing: From chronic stutterer to sought-after public speaker; from belligerent smart aleck to humble supplicant; from unmotivated student to Master’s degree holder and educational programs facilitator; and from emotionally buried zombie to guidance and grief counselor. While McDougall alone had to commit to the heavy lifting of overcoming his alcohol addiction, he also became attuned to the way people came forward from the most unexpected places when he needed help: “Decency and willingness to help was around me all the time. I just needed to avail myself of it.”
McDougall eventually took a position with the same union program he turned to when his body revolted against his alcoholism. Wearing the other hat, he did what he could to get others into treatment. These sincere accounts of calling others’ bluffs in his role of intervener show the importance and effectiveness of offering both compassion and respect to individuals struggling with a disease he knows firsthand. Writes McDougall:
…you have to love the person but hate the addiction. People with problems are not problem people. They are people with problems. Our job is to separate the two and find the root cause of the problem.
The triumphant message in Breaking Through transcends the author’s own battle of overcoming addiction and can motivate readers needing to turn their own ship’s course.
For more about Allan McDougall, visit his website.