I found Russell Brand’s book “Recovery: Freedom From Our Addictions” by chance at the nearest public library. It was placed on display on one of the shelves nearest to the door and as I was exiting I could not help but be drawn to it. Russell Brand is my favourite comedian in the world and I have read his memoirs “My Booky Wook” and “Booky Wook 2.” It was then natural for me to be drawn by the cover of the book adorning his name. I picked it up, curious, and began to surmise what it is actually about. It is in his own words, Russell Brand’s version and interpretation of the infamous 12 Steps. Below are each of the original steps accompanied by Brand’s version which of course has the word “fuck” in it a lot (this will appear in bold).
- We admitted that we were powerless over our addiction, that our lives had become unmangeable. Are you a bit fucked?
- We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. Could you not be fucked?
- We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him. Are you, on your own, going to “unfuck” yourself?
- We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. Write down all the things that are fucking you up or have ever fucked you up and don’t lie, or leave anything out.
- We admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. Honestly tell someone trustworthy about how fucked you are.
- We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character. Well that’s revealed a lot of fucked up patterns. Do you want to stop it? Seriously?
- We humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings. Are you willing to live in a new way that’s not about you and your previous, fucked up stuff? You have to.
- We made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all. Prepare to apologize to everyone for everything affected by your being so fucked up.
- We made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. Now apologize. Unless that would make things worse.
- We continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it. Watch out for fucked up thinking and behaviour and be honest when it happens.
- We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out. Stay connected to your new perspective.
- Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to addicts, and to practice these principles in all our affairs. Look at life less-selfishly, be nice to everyone, help people if you can.
Brand breaks down each step into a chapter within his book “Recovery.” In the introduction to his book, Brand explains that the 12 steps can be used by anyone regardless of their background, culture or religion. He also writes about his first impressions to the steps:
“The first time I saw the Steps, I thought, “Hmm, a bit religious, a bit pious, a bit ambitious.’ There was the ‘Christiany’ feel. Look at the third step, ‘turn our will and our lives over to the care of God’ – steady on old boy, that just sounds like a cosy version of ISIS. But now I know that you could be a devout Muslim with a sugar problem, an atheist Jew who watches too much porn, a Hindu who can’t stay faithful, or a humanist who shops more than they can afford to and this program will effortlessly form around your flaws and attributes, placing you on the path you were always intended to walk, making you quite simply, the best version of yourself it is possible to be.” (Brand 13).
I had never heard of the 12 steps really except maybe in passing before encountering this book. However, I have reached a wall in my addiction where I will consider doing anything once to make it stop. I struggle with the Christianity feel of it but Brand assures in his book “Recovery” that you can adjust the steps to match your own spirituality.
I recently went to my first 12 step focused recovery group at a local church called Celebrate Recovery. I tried to have an open mind but found the group too Christ focused. The people there were praising Jesus every other sentence and as someone who is a skeptical believer this did not sit right with me. This did not err my determination, however, and I will be seeking out other groups for support. One group I will be checking out this week is Narcotics Anonymous.
I think I am ready to start the journey that is the 12 steps. The first step: We admitted that we were powerless over our addiction, that our lives had become unmangeable or as Russell Brand puts it, Are you a bit fucked? is a step I am ready to take. I can admit that I have become powerless over my addiction to cigarettes and drugs and that my life has become unmanageable as a result of it. But now what? What do I do to enact a change in my behavior?
Brand mentions in the first chapter of his book that most of us are divided: “…usually part of us wants to change a negative, punishing behavior, whereas another part wants to hold on to it” (Brand 21). I want to change my drinking and smoking habits yet part of me wants to hold on to them. I like the way they make me feel in the moment but I feel terrible after coming down from my high. I do not want to crash anymore but is my drive to rid alcohol and drugs from my life bigger or less than my enjoyment of them? I have decided to test myself and ultimately find out. I will never know if I can live a sober life if I never try to live one.
I think, no I know, that I deserve more credit. I believe I am fully capable of sobriety so why do I fight it and struggle so much against it? Addiction is a difficult beast and I am aware that there is a chemical dependency to drugs I am also fighting as well as my willpower to stay sober. My brain is at war with itself and I think it’s finally time to draw up a peace treaty. I will be seeking various support groups until I find one that fits me so to speak and am beginning addiction counselling this week. I am taking an active role in what I hope will be my recovery and will not sit idle hoping that by some divine intervention I will find the answers. I am trying and I think that should count for something.
I implore my readers to leave comments on what worked for you, if you too have struggled with addiction. I will heavily take into consideration anyone’s thoughts or ideas for I am at my wits end.