By Brian McAlister

Review by Scott Keith

Alcoholism differs from other diseases. A pathologist can’t examine cells under a high-power microscope and make a diagnosis of alcoholism. The disease presents itself in various ways. For instance, you might find an alcoholic in a gutter swigging wine from a paper bag. Or you might find an alcoholic at the top of his or her game, running a very successful business, rarely missing a meeting or appointment. Alcoholism is a disease that strikes young and old, rich and poor. It can be a cruel disease. Sufferers can wind up in a jail cell or a hospital bed. There is no cure for alcoholism; the only way to keep the disease at bay is to avoid the “first drink.” This addiction has lead to the death of many.

A man who has struggled with alcoholism has written a remarkably candid book titled, Full Recovery: Creating a Personal Action Plan for Life Beyond Sobriety. Brian McAlister, whose sobriety date is August 2, 1990, was once an unemployed “low-bottom” alcoholic. Today, he is an entrepreneur and a board member of a major national recovery organization.

McAlister’s book focuses on recovery, or abstaining from alcohol one day at a time. Treatment facilities and 12-step programs help the addicted person recognize the  problem and adjust to a substance-free life. As life-saving as recovery can be, McAlister’s book demonstrates that it’s possible to get stuck along the recovery road.

In an interview with Men and Health: It’s a Guy Thing, McAlister says he started drinking as a youngster and continued until his early 30s. “Through many struggles, and lower and lower bottoms…I was chasing that first high that I had when I was a kid. I finally hit the point where I was so spiritually and emotionally bankrupt that death seemed the only option. When it got that painful, I looked for other solutions to my problem. That’s when I made a decision to try to get sober.”

After 20 years of drinking, McAlister reached sobriety through rehabilitation and a 12-step program. But it wasn’t enough.  He says one of his long-term goals was to write a book. Says McAlister, “I have so much to be grateful  for. My life is really a life full of miracles. My whole goal with the book was to show other people that miracles do happen…it’s just a matter of taking the right steps.”

Throughout the book, McAlister points out that it’s possible to get stuck in recovery. This can make it hard for a person to achieve his or her full potential. McAlister has noticed that some in recovery “start challenging their beliefs as far as how they became an addict…but they don’t take it to the next level. They don’t challenge their beliefs as far as what they believe about money, what they believe about their potential, what they believe about their career.” He says this kind of  frustration can lead to relapse.

One section of the book looks at fear. McAlister says fear can hold a lot of people back. The idea is to overcome fears and limitations. There are physical, mental and spiritual ways of accomplishing this, according to McAlister, noting that even procrastination can be a way of masking fear.

Full Recovery is an interactive book, complete with homework assignments. “My whole goal is to get them to take action and improve their life,” says McAlister. He says his book is “twenty years worth of trial and error, success and disappointment, and an intense study of success in recovery. I’ve taken it and put it into a workable program for people to apply in their own recovery.” McAlister says it’s important to keep moving forward in recovery.

If you’re suffering from an addiction, McAlister says the first step is to get off the drugs or alcohol. McAlister is a big supporter of 12-step programs. “My book takes off after that. Now you’re sober, now what?” Full Recovery is a fresh, inspiring examination of alcoholism and addiction – a book that needs to be within reach of every recovering man and woman.

Hardcover, 247 pages, $22.95, MacSimum Publishing Company, available at and

Visit Brian McAlister at