Full Recovery with Brian McAlister

Brian McAlister joins us today on The SHAIR Podcast.  Brian is a bestselling author, motivational speaker and the founder of Full Recovery Wellness Center in New Jersey. Brian is dedicated to helping recovering people achieve spiritual, personal and financial empowerment.

Brian’s commitment to helping others recover from addiction and reach their full potential is his life’s mission.  From a low-bottom unemployed alcoholic and addict to leading a workforce of 1,800 people producing nearly half a billion dollars in annual sales is just a small part of Brian McAlister’s journey.

Husband, father, entrepreneur, best-selling recovery author and coach, Brian subscribes to the spiritual axiom that with God all things are possible.  He maintains an active role in the recovery community through his workshops and as a sought-after motivational speaker on the subject. These accomplishments are an example of the miracles that have taken place in Brian’s life. Miracles he believes can be taught, learned, and duplicated.

Clean Date: August 2nd, 1990

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Omar:  First of all, Brian, take us through your normal daily routine including recovery.

Brian:  Well, first, it’s a habit I got into very early on, you know. Once I got past the god issue and the higher power issue, I made it a daily discipline to pray before I even get out of bed in the morning, before my feet hit the floor, I try to get centered because I find that when I don’t do that my day usually starts off in a hectic way and if I can get centered before my feet hit the floor, I’m doing pretty good. I pray. I get ready. I do my morning meditation. I learned to eat, what a concept … A little breakfast.

All these things that most people come by normally, I had to learn at the age of 33 years old. That’s really how my day begins and then from then on, it’s so busy I couldn’t even imagine it when I was using because I run several businesses, I’m working the recovery industry and I’m married for 39 years to the same woman. I have a son. I have a dog. I have horses. I have a beautiful home. All the things I didn’t have that make a full and complete life, that’s pretty much my day every day. I try to be of service and the more I give, the more I receive. It’s funny. I used to think if I wanted more, I had to take more. Now I realize that if I want more, I have to give more. That’s it.

Also I belong to a 12-step program and still, after 26 years of continuous recovery and sobriety, I still try to hit a meeting at least five times a week. I have a full, full, overflowing abundant life.

Omar:  Dude you’re telling me you still hit five meeting sort of week with your schedule?

Brian:  Absolutely. It’s cool because I travel a lot so I get to meet a lot of people in different areas and different traditions and different groups you understand but everybody at their core … We’re all trying for the same thing. A sober life and a quality recovery.

Omar:  When is your actual clean date, your anniversary date?

Brian:  August 2nd, 1990.

Omar:  Yeah. Amazing.

Brian:  Yeah it really is amazing so if I can pull this off, anybody can pull this off, you know?

Omar:  For 26 years, long time man, how old were you the first time you drank or used drugs and, more importantly, how did they make you feel?

Brian:  Well, I was 12 almost 13, so I actually went on a 20-year run. They describe it in a doctor’s opinion in the AA big book. I got that sense of ease and comfort that comes from taking the first few drinks. That’s really the whole deal. I like the effect. I’ve heard it from a million people. I never felt comfortable in my own skin. I never felt comfortable in the world. Once I took a few drinks, you know, that was it. I went instantly from drinking to drugging within three weeks, 4 weeks. I chased that for-

Omar:  Brian I … Please, tell our listeners how they can find you, how they can reach out to you, the name of your book.

Brian:  Thank you. It’s “Full Recovery: The Recovering Person’s Guide to Unleashing Your Inner Power.” That’s the name of the book. I run the Full Recovery Wellness Center in Fairfield, New Jersey and it’s 973-244-0022. Our website is www.fullrecoverywellnesscenter.com. I send out free video messages almost every day. If you need a little extra inspiration, we do everything we can to … Like they say in the 12-step program, the thing doesn’t do … The book doesn’t do any good on the shelf. What we do is we try to send out as much information as we can. Even if you’re not in this area, we refer people all over the place, all over the country and we do our best to give back because that’s really what it’s all about. The more we give, the better it is for us and the better it is for the people we get to touch. Anybody needs any help, or they just want to call me up, I’d be happy to talk to you.

Omar:  What was keeping you from getting clean or staying clean when you first got introduced to recovery?

Brian:  My outdated and misguided habits of thought and action. I had more habits than just drugs and alcohol. I had a habit of the way I communicated with myself and the world around me. I had to let go absolutely and open my mind to new level of possibility or it never would have happened.

Omar:  Beautiful. I love it. Number two, at what point did you have that spiritual awakening, that ah-ha moment in recovery when you accepted that you were powerless over drugs and alcohol but for the first time had developed a hope that you could recover?

Brian:  It happened when I left treatment because I was amazed that I actually had 28 days sober. It was an ongoing process, I’ll tell you. They told me to get on my knees and pray and I wasn’t going to do it. The first time that my wife walked in … I decided I would try it because everything else they told me was working, I might as well try this too. My wife walked in our bedroom and I was on my knees praying, I wanted to crawl under the bed. How sick is that? All the things that I had done, all the misguided choices I had made and that’s what was embarrassing me. Really, for me, I had … It was a spiritual experience of the educational variety. Over time I learned more and as it worked, I bought in more. It took time. It took time and it took an open mind.

I’d like to share something real quick … You were talking about when you really realized it work … For the first couple of years, I was in recovery, every time I was at a meeting and I heard somebody that was lucky enough to come back in, I’d wait for them after the meeting and say “what was the last thing you thought of before you picked up?” Usually they’d start out with an excuse or something like … “Oh my wife broke up with me” or “my job ended” or “this happened.” I would just keep asking the question, “no, no” … I get them to the point “what was the very last thing that went through your head before you put it in your mouth or stuck it in your arm or whatever your deal was.” To a person they all gave me the same answer when I got down to it. That answer was “F it, Fuck it.” That’s what they would tell me.

I would go home at night and get on my knees and say “oh god, don’t ever let me get a case of them.” You know what I mean? Whatever it is, anything but that. When I’d get angry sometimes I would say a word like that or something like that and then I’d be like “just kidding.” You know what I mean? I don’t ever want to get a case of the F-its because when I get a case of the F-its it’s really F me because that’s what happens, I hurt myself.

Omar:  Brian, what is your favorite book that you would recommend to a newcomer early in recovery?

Brian:  I would have to … Call me old fashioned. Stick with the classics, the AA Big Book didn’t hurt me much. That was good and I like Emmet Fox. He’s got several good books. Everybody knows “Sermon on the Mount,” which is a wonderful book but … And of course “Full Recovery,” you know.

Omar:  Yes. You got it. Don’t be afraid to plug the book.

Brian:  Yeah. Yeah. I can’t forget that but no, I really believe that because I still go to a Big Book meeting every week and every time … I’ve ready it many many times but every time I show up, I’m in a different place. I get something different our of it. I read a lot of spiritual stuff and I’m never disappointed even if-

Omar:  All right so Brian, number four, what is the best suggestion you have ever received?

Brian:  Besides “don’t drink and go to meetings,” I would have to say, the suggestion that that guy gave me that my greatest character defects are really my biggest assets when I focus them intelligently. When I combine the moral and ethical standards needed in the 12-step world with my god-given ability to focus and take action … Which was always in me. I took a lot of misguided action but it was always in me. When I combine those two things together and point them at a goal, there’s no stopping me.

Omar:  Beautiful. I love it. Number five, finally, if you could give a newcomer only one suggestion what would it be?

Brian:  Have fun. Learn how to have fun in recovery. If you can’t have fun, you probably won’t stay. It takes some time to get your brains out of hock. It takes some time to figure out what you like to do, but that’s an important component. You have to have people that you enjoy being with n figure out what your god-given gifts are. We all have a purpose that the world is sorely in need of. When you figure that out, when you get in touch with that and you take daily steps towards achieving it, you’ll know peace. You’ll really know what life’s … The juice of life. The last thing you want to do is dribble on yourself, sit in the corner and drift away like I used to do.


“Learn how to have fun in recovery.”

Thanks again for your SHAIR, Brian! We SHAIR our stories every Tuesday so subscribe to us on iTunes and Stitcher Radio!

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Disclaimer – The opinions shared on this show reflect those of the individual speaker and not of any 12 step fellowship as a whole and though we discuss 12 step recovery and the impact it has had in our lives we do not promote or endorse any 12 step anonymous program.