Recover! Stop Thinking Like An Addict and Reclaim Your Life with the PERFECT Program – Stanton Peele

Recover! Stop Thinking Like An Addict and Reclaim Your Life with the PERFECT Program

by Stanton Peele and Ilse Thompson

I have read a lot of Stanton Peeles books in the past and found them to be really helpful. He certainly likes to challenge the old-fashioned AA/12 step ideas, and comes up with really good alternative recovery solutions, which many have found to be much more helpful, that those that originate from the 1935 Big Book of AA. He is certainly not afraid to try new solutions and this is what he has done with this book. Ilse Thompson was one of the people who had the great Stinkin-Thinkin, AA critical blog, which was really fast-moving and took a humorous look at the deficiencies of the 12 step world. I remember her talking about starting this book, when that site was still updated regularly, a few years ago.

Recover! with the PERFECT Program

I think this book could help a lot of people and it is a good time to publish it as mindfulness is becoming accepted as a great idea at last! They offer a good method of recovery, which is about detaching from addictive thoughts and offers good advice on how to do this. It deals with the various reasons people stop, gives advice for people who may need a detox, gives methods to deal with cravings and also guides people in ways to accept life in a fulfilling way. A lot of the book is about mindfulness, and this is something that has really become popular in the last four or five years. I have used it a lot myself, and was introduced to it through a pain management course. I have certainly become calmer and more centered as a result and can see why Stanton, has made this the main technique in the book.

I would also point out that the people from the soberistas site, are really pushing mindfulness as a solution, so if you are one of the 20,000 who have recently signed up there, then you may find this book will really help you, if you want to follow in the footsteps of that sites site’s owners.

You are taken stage by stage through Stanton’s program, and it is the type of book that should be read slowly and then time taken to learn the exercises. He talks about how other aspects of healthy living can help such as Yoga and Pilates, which are other things that I do, and have found to be very beneficial for my mental and physical health. He talks about relapse and gives a great perspective on it and moderation/harm reduction methods which some may find helpful. He aims to provide a way of thinking that will not send people on binges like so many 12 step members do, when they feel they have failed in their recovery. In reality they have succeeded for some time, and a small blip is nothing compared to the amount of damage they were doing in the past, but so often things get out of control when 12 step members relapse compared to those who choose other or no formal method of recovery. This book has a really useful way of looking at this, compared to the AA idea of loosing your time and starting again.

The book will help you deal with your emotions and feelings and does not tell you that you are weak and powerless. It breaks down the disease theory which many see as ridiculous, and also explains what happens to your brain when you develop a compulsion to drink etc. It will help people detach from the addictive thought process, with self acceptance using loving kindness buddhist meditation. Mindfulness is a great way to get life in perspective and can really help people with unhealthy compulsions. It has been successful with patients who have OCD and even helps people who have suffered strokes or who are in severe pain. It certainly helps me and is something I look forward to in the day.

The book has many links to other resources and this is really good if you have the Kindle version. One of them that is talked about at the end is which is  a site I have used a lot for guided meditation.

I found the book really useful and intend to keep on using mindfulness and have tried some of the suggestions in it and feel they will help others. My only complaint is that they did not write it ten years ago, as it would have saved me from wasting my time at AA meetings, but at least I can accept that these days and apply some loving kindness.

This is how the authors describe the program

“The PERFECT Program (an acronym) is a self-help program embodying these concepts. “P,” as opposed to the conventional notion of powerlessness, represents “Pause,” or the ability people have to interject control into their lives. “E” stands for “Embrace,” or acceptance of self and forgiveness of others. “R” is “Rediscover,” meaning uncovering and steering by the values that have been buried by the addiction, and so on to spell out “PERFECT,” a Buddhist vision of our inner selves.”

This is what other people have said about the book!

Recover! goes well beyond brainless, mindless, and choiceless approaches to addiction. Dr. Stanton Peele’s work offers hope for mindful, practical, and liberating addiction treatment and self-help.

–Harold J. Bursztajn, M.D., Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Co-Founder, Program in Psychiatry and the Law at BIDMC Psychiatry of Harvard Medical School


12-step treatment worsened my addiction to the point that I nearly died of withdrawal. Stanton Peele’s books saved my life by showing me that I was not powerless and did not need to be rescued by a “Higher Power.” For a step-by-step guide on how to overcome addiction I most highly recommend Dr. Peele’s new book Recover!

–Kenneth Anderson, MA, Founder and CEO of HAMS Harm Reduction for Alcohol


In Recover!, Stanton Peele and Ilse Thompson offer a blueprint to help addicts cope with their triggers, from loneliness and feeling unworthy, anxious, and overwhelmed. Recover! focuses on what’s right in the addict’s life, and adding to it. It’s a hopeful, tangible set of tools designed to give power back to the addict—not give it up.

–Gabrielle Glaser, author of The New York Times bestseller Her Best-Kept Secret: Why Women Drink—And How They Can Regain Control


“I am a recovering addict” was the way someone introduced himself to me on my first visit to the USA. He explained he had been in recovery for the past 25 years. The irrationality, helplessness and disempowerment inherent in this statement shocked me. This is what the disease model of addiction does to people. I am in agreement with Stanton Peele that people are not powerless or helpless in the face of dependence on drugs, and the evidence supports this view. This book dispels that, and other myths about drugs. Stanton has come up with another must-read book.

–Professor Pat O’Hare, co-founder and former director of Harm Reduction International


At a time when addiction is being trumpeted as a “brain disease,” Peele slashes through the hyper-medicalized rhetoric to get to the human core of addiction and recovery. This acutely insightful and compassionate book is required reading for anyone struggling with an overwhelming habit.

–Sally Satel, MD, co-author of Brainwashed: The Seductive Appeal of Mindless Neuroscience; lecturer, Yale University School of Medicine


Stanton Peele’s insistence that addiction is not a disease, but a symptom of dysfunctional societies, families, and/or psyches is compelling, compassionate, and almost certainly correct. In Recover!, his most impressive work to date, he lays out a program—both utterly simple and profound—that will quite literally save lives by addressing the root causes of addiction rather than pathologizing its many manifestations.

–Christopher Ryan, Ph.D. & Cacilda Jethá, M.D., authors of The New York Times bestseller Sex at Dawn


In his latest book, Recover!, pioneering addiction expert Dr. Stanton Peele moves on to exciting new ground by providing practical advice and tools for dealing with addiction, based on Buddhist-inspired mindfulness techniques. It is essential reading for those who want to understand the reality of addiction and ways it can be effectively addressed. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to move on from their own addiction or is supporting someone else to overcome their addiction.

–Julian Cohen, author of Drugs and Young People: Essential Information and Advice for Parents and Professionals


For decades, Stanton Peele has been at the forefront of the battle to understand addictions and eliminate the twin myths that addicts are powerless over their addictions and that they have a lifelong “brain disease.” In Recover! he has taken another crucial step toward freeing us from these prejudicial, disempowering misconceptions while truly helping people suffering with addiction.

–Lance Dodes, M.D., Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School (Retired); co-author, The Sober Truth: Debunking the Bad Science Behind 12-Step Programs and the Rehab Industry


Recover! is Stanton Peele’s most comprehensive workbook. It provides an astonishing array of resources, neatly organized into accessible and sensible tasks, and a final chapter for coping with unexpected problems. In this book you will find guidance on everything you need to address in recovery. Peele writes as if he were a close friend, explaining important concepts carefully and with genuine concern that you truly understand them. You can relax and soak up what he says, feeling your perspective and life change with each sentence. He doesn’t tell you what to do, but shows you the tasks that need to be accomplished and gives you options for moving forward. Many readers may well emerge from this book and think, “I knew that!” True enough, but only after reading Peele, who masterfully re-connects us with our own wisdom.

–Tom Horvath, Ph.D., ABPP; President, SMART Recovery® and Practical Recovery; Past President, American Psychological Association’s Division on Addictions


Stanton Peele’s writing has been a Copernican paradigm shift in the field of recovery. With his Diseasing of America, Peele emerged as a savvy provocateur with the guts to take on the recovery establishment.  With Recover! Peele shares his clinical wisdom and compassion with those who are on the path of change and self-acceptance. Recover! is a recovery program of practical perfection without the typical recovery perfectionism.

–Pavel Somov, Ph.D., author of Lotus Effect and Eating the Moment: 141 Mindful Practices to Overcome Overeating One Meal at a Time


Recover! is a powerful new tool for helping people with addictions heal and grow. Dr. Stanton Peele is a trailblazer who has led each new progressive wave in the addictive behaviors field since the 1970s. Today, Dr. Peele is a leading voice for a new shift in the field, one that refutes the myth that addicted people are victims of a permanent disease that they can arrest only by accepting their powerlessness and lifelong abstinence. Recover! is a how-to guide to recovery through cultivating mindful awareness and self-compassion. The book introduces Stanton’s PERFECT Program, a creative blend of ideas and practical strategies for leaving addiction behind while creating the life you want. Inspiring, hopeful, and a good read as well.

–Andrew Tatarsky, PhD, author, Harm Reduction Psychotherapy: A New Treatment for Drug and Alcohol Problems; Director, Center for Optimal Living, NYC


Probably the world’s most notable figure in addiction studies, Stanton Peele has written another great book.  Recover! really is a self-help book. Unlike most of what you read, it teaches you to help yourself, rather than telling you to rely on a treatment system because helping oneself is impossible. Stanton’s work assisted my recovery many years ago, and he can help you now.

–Peter Ferentzy, Ph.D., author of Dealing with an Addict: What You Need to Know if Someone You Care for Has a Drug or Alcohol Problem


Stanton Peele knows more about addiction than anyone in the world. Every one of his books is a masterpiece. So is this one. The materials in this book are factual, inspiring and helpful for anyone making for change on their own. If you need additional help, take this book to a good therapist. Ask them to help you apply Peele’s materials. You will be very happy with the results!

–Robert M. Muscala, R.N., Addiction/Chemical Health Specialist, Minnesota


In the midst of the turbulence about defining and dealing with addiction, Stanton Peele has consistently articulated one of the few sane voices.  Increasingly, research has proved that he is right. Recover! continues and extends his presence at the forefront of advice and help based on common sense and efficacy for those struggling with addiction.

–Liese Recke, Manager of Clinical Treatment, Oslo Norway, and former addict




Commenting area

  1. I just bought this book and so far Im loving it. I think its finally one that can replace the BB! LOL I mean it.

  2. This is such a great review of the book! Peele provides a refreshing look at self-empowering treatment and you have described it beautifully here!

    Dr. Peele recently wrote an exclusive article for our monthly newsletter that you may find interesting. I am including the link below, as I feel it may be of interest to you and your loyal readers.

    Please keep blogging, We always appreciate reading your posts!

  3. Thanks so much for the comment and the link. I really like the things you are saying about recovery. I linked to this in another post which I think is really good for people looking at alternative ways to recover.
    I really do think self empowerment is so important, especially in the modern world where many feel they are inadequate after being bombarded by advertising and other media. Powerlessness may be an appropriate image for people who have lost everything, but most try recovery long before that happens, and require a positive image change, and a more helpful way of dealing with life.

  4. I look forward to buying this book and reading it!

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