Russell Brand has made a serious effort to redefine what an addict is – no longer simply a drug user or alcoholic, he insists that ‘addiction’ can cover any behaviors which can be detrimental to our well-being. Thus, it can include social media use, poor relationship choices, or the obsessive desire to be more and do more before we are happy with ourselves; to be workaholics or narcissistic. Once you see addiction through this lens, it becomes evident that the world we live in is geared towards addiction, and that we may all be affected more than we suspect.
I may not be addicted to hard drugs or alcohol, but upon reading Recovery, I realized that there were many aspects of my life that could be improved using The Twelve Steps, particularly as Brand explains them. As Brand admits, many people see the programme as having religious connotations, or being exclusive, and so prevent themselves from participating in activities that could lead to their recovery. I thought much the same. However, Brand (as an unreligious person in the traditional sense) points out that, as problems differ for each person, so too does our concept of a higher power, or what it means to make amends, or how we go about helping others.
Brand’s key explanation, as I understood it, is that we are all connected through this experience that is life, and would all do well to be mindful, to give and receive love, and to work towards helping others, in order to better our own experience. This is both noble and inspiring. The world could certainly do with more love and acceptance, and this does not need to be dictated by your status or your religion, simply by your desire to be your best self, and to help others achieve the same goal.
Brand does a great job of writing about the programme, and not his addiction – while he gives examples for context, there are no morbid details of past horrors, which I admire. This gives the book a decidedly adult feel, and clearly exhibits Brand’s desire to help others while working on his own narcissism – he avoids the easy route of celebrity tell-all, and provides instead a meaningful experience to be shared.
Undoubtedly Russell Brand has his faults (as we all do) and he is gracious enough to admit this himself, but his willingness to help others, and his patience in doing so are clear and heartfelt. While it directly discusses the Twelve Step Programme in detail, it can also be read – as I did – as a general guide to living a fulfilling, peaceful life. So even if you think you have no addictions, give it a read. You may learn something wonderful.
Recovery by Russell Brand is published by Pan Macmillan