Recover!Stanton Peele’s Recover!

An Empowering Program to Help You Stop Thinking Like an Addict and Reclaim Your Life continues to show the way out of addiction. More people are following.

Stanton Peele with Ilse Thompson

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Stanton Peele and Ilse Thompson have released the paperback version of Recover! An Empowering Program to Help You Stop Thinking Like an Addict and Reclaim Your Life.  Dr. Peele has been expounding the anti-addiction-is-a-disease position for 40 years, since Love and Addiction (1975) and The Diseasing of America (1989), then with his self-cure books The Truth About Addiction and Recovery (1991) and 7 Tools To Beat Addiction (2004).  Today, debunking the disease theory of addiction has become the "hot" idea.

In the first place, do you think that addiction is declining in America? No expert believes that it is.  

But don’t we already have the tried-and-true solution for alcohol, drug, and addiction problems in Alcoholics Anonymous and its marvelous 12 steps?  And, on top of this, haven’t the National Institute on Drug Abuse and many scientists announced that brain science is solving our age-old addictive problems?

Why are we failing to stem the addictive tide?  A host of hot-selling books indicate that we are going in exactly the wrong direction in fighting addiction.  A partial list of these books includes:

  • Harvard psychiatrist Lance Dodes’s The Sober Truth: Debunking the Bad Science Behind 12-Step Programs and the Rehab Industry;
  • Neuroscientist Marc Lewis’s The Biology of Desire: Why Addiction Is Not a Disease;
  • Carl Hart’s High Price: A Neuroscientist’s Journey of Self-Discovery that Challenges Everything You Know About Drugs and Society;
  • Johann Hari’s Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs

In his past books, Dr. Peele has shown that the disease model, which is promoted as lifting the burden of blame from those with addictions, in fact sentences millions of people to a lifetime of artificial limits.  People can—and most often do—outgrow their addictive patterns.  And the disease idea of addiction does nothing so much as confuse, oppose, and reject people’s self-empowerment made evident in this self-cure.

In Recover! An Empowering Program to Help You Stop Thinking Like an Addict and Reclaim Your Life, Stanton and Ilse Thompson show that your beliefs that addiction is a lifelong disease and that you are a permanent born-to-be addict are wrong.  They have written a road map for a journey (like that taken by Reese Witherspoon in the movie Wild) to rid yourself of these destructive ideas and to reclaim your life as your own, using such practical tools as sound self-talk and mindfulness meditation.

Here is praise for their effort from other leaders in the field:

  • Johann Hari:  “One of the most insightful thinkers about addiction anywhere, ever…an absolute must-read.”
  • Maia Szalavitz:  “A true pioneer of addiction research and theory.”
  • Carl Hart:  “Prompted me to look beyond the flashy headlines and the majority position.”
  • Marc Lewis:  “Helps us understand the most tortuous aspects of addiction and recovery.”


White, W. (2015) Book Reviews: Recover! and Recovery Now. Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly 33(1), 132 - 137.

Stanton Peele’s name is familiar to anyone who has worked in any capacity within the modern addictions field. Stanton is a prominent speaker, commentator and prolific writer, who, in addition to hundreds of articles and blogs, has authored such books as Love and Addiction, Diseasing of America, and The Truth About Addiction and Recovery. His gadfly attacks on the portrayal of addiction as a disease, abstinence-only treatment and Alcoholics Anonymous make him one of the most polarizing figures in modern addiction treatment, but Stanton Peele has made significant contributions to the addictions field. He was one of the first writers to move beyond a focus on drugs to what came to be called process addictions—destructive relationships with people, sex, food, and work. His biting critiques of prevailing approaches to conceptualizing, treating and recovering from addiction and his proffered alternatives have moved discussions of addiction from scientific and professional enclaves to subjects worthy of broader public debate. And more than any other author writing for the general public, Peele has brought attention to alcohol and other drug problems and their patterns of resolution beyond those seen in addiction treatment or mutual aid fellowships.

Having corresponded with and shared speaking platforms with Stanton for some years, I sometimes think of him as a cross between a bullfighter waving a red cape before the leaders of the addictions field and the Trickster of Native American folklore whose actions puncture and deflate prevailing institutions and ideas. Stanton Peele is a lawyer as well as a psychologist, and he revels in a good fight.


Stanton Peele, PhD, JD, is the author of groundbreaking books, lectures around the world, and has received lifetime achievement awards from the Rutgers Center of Alcohol Studies and the Drug Policy Alliance. Dr. Peele lives in Brooklyn.

Ilse Thompson is a writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon.  She is pursuing her Master of Divinity in Buddhism at Maitripa College.