3 out of 4 stars
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Addiction is a terrible disease. I'm very fortunate that my addiction is only to caffeine, but even my lesser addiction means either consuming caffeine regularly or sluggishness and terrible headaches. Sadly, many people face addictions to drugs and alcohol, and these addictions can lead to loss of jobs, friends or even their lives. T. T. Sawyer is one such addict, and after decades of going through various rehab programs, relapsing and struggling with making it day to day he ended up creating his own path and refining it into something that works for him.
Sawyer makes it clear that this plan isn't for everyone, but it was exactly what worked in his time of need. Ripcord Recovery is essentially a modification to AA's 12 steps with one very controversial edit: the use of medicinal marijuana. Sawyer's addictions included alcohol and pills, and while many would consider using any type of drugs a relapse - even medicinal marijuana - he considered it a way to take control of not only his various pains without requiring prescription pills, but a way to be happier, live life more clearly and no longer worry about relapsing.
Again, I'm not a drug or alcohol addict (thank goodness!), but if I read about someone controlling their addiction with medical marijuana I'd probably laugh. You can believe how surprised I was, then, when I actually understood Sawyer's points and could see the benefits of cannabis for him. As Sawyer says, this is not for everyone, and isn't recommended if someone's current method is working for them.
Throughout the book Sawyer goes into his own personal history a bit, showing the hardships he's faced. He's very honest and admits to his troubles with staying sober and his repeated relapses. He also explains his process for coming up with his plan and how he's refined it over time. One of the big inspirations was the idea of there being three main parts to recovery - mental, spiritual and physical. He discovered that spiritual didn't have to mean religious, it could be all sorts of glorious events like skydiving. He also found that the medications he took would often help with his depression, but they also balanced him too much, so he couldn't become happy either. He realized something many people may overlook: the importance of happiness in fighting off addiction and how it makes taking it one day at a time much easier. Living for more than just "getting through today without relapsing" is necessary!
The only thing I'd recommend improving on here is the way the book flows. Sawyer jumps around a bit, and although he makes good points and even sums things up fairly well toward the end he never lays things out in a completely straightforward way. At one point he writes that a friend asked him to include his exact method - how much he took and when he took it. He says that he refused to include that here as each person is different, and so what works for him really wouldn't work for everyone. I can understand that, and he does include some specifics - his goal is minimal use, "micro doses of cannabis" are what he finds work best for him and that because of his heart history he sticks with “vaporizing pure extract oils supplemented with occasional edibles”. Throughout the book, with some notes and/or highlighting one can piece together all of the important tips and advice, but borrowing from self-help books by utilizing summaries and clearly pre-highlighted portions would've gone a long way. I would've even enjoyed seeing the author include how one of his typical days goes as an example.
I definitely enjoyed the book, and there were portions that were very poetic. This isn't some quick cash grab attempt at being controversial; it's very clear that Sawyer put this together after years of being his own guinea pig (as he puts it) and finding what works after decades of dealing with addiction. In fact, as he points out, he makes far more from his day job than he ever expects to make from the book, and he risks losing that job if his anonymity vanishes. I'd recommend this book for anyone who is having trouble being sober, even for those who don't want to risk marijuana as a reprieve since Sawyer does a great job of explaining the importance of modifying the program for one's own purposes. My rating of Ripcord Recovery is 3 out of 4 stars.
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