Total Recovery For True Joy In Life By Guest Author Dr. Michael McGee

Dr. Michael McGee

Guest Contributor

I am honored to have a special guest contributor today who is Dr. Michael McGee. Dr. McGee is currently the Chief Medical Officer of The Haven, a psychiatric treatment facility specializing in the treatment of addictions, located on California’s Central Coast. Dr. McGee also has a private practice in San Luis Obispo.

Previously, we published the article The 5 Biggest Misconceptions of Addiction and Recovery and Dr. McGee has generously offered to author some thoughts and perspective on recovery to serve as a complementary piece.

Often, I think we immediately attach substance abuse with the concepts of addiction and recovery, for understandable reasons, but addictions seem to cut across a much larger spectrum of challenges for humans, like the modern-day compulsion to stare at our phones or the way we can use food to escape our emotions.

I love Russell Brand’s definition of recovery which is to “recover the person you were born to be”. I encourage everyone to stay open to these concepts of recovery and the possibility that there could be habits or subtle compulsions that are detracting from your ability to live life as your authentic self.

I now turn the site and this article over to Dr. Michael McGee.


True Recovery

A major misconception about recovery is that a complete overturning of the power of addiction is both impossible and undesirable. Many victims of addiction are in partial recovery. Cross addiction is more the rule than the exception.

For example, there are crowds of smokers at AA and NA meetings. They have stopped addicting to the substances that threaten imminent destruction in exchange for addicting to a substance that will probably destroy them later in their lives. This is arguably positive, as some recovery is better than none. They are, however, missing out on the benefits to be gained in the process of total recovery.

Total recovery is something we should work to achieve and maintain for our entire lives. We know our recovery is total when we are not addicting in any way. We have realized the ideal of not hurting ourselves or anyone else through engaging in compulsive, destructive behaviors (addictions). We are working to heal and repair our lives. We are realizing our full potential and experiencing fulfillment.


Our Interdependence

Because of our interdependence, our actions affect everyone around us. We need to be vital to be able to be of benefit to others. If we hurt ourselves, we hurt others.

I see this all the time in my grieving patients whose parents or other loved ones die prematurely from smoking or other self-destructive behaviors. Thus it is our responsibility to cherish and care for ourselves the way we would cherish and care for our own child. We owe this to ourselves as well as to those around us.



The Practice Of Self-Care

In total recovery, we take very good care of ourselves so that we can both savor our lives as well as nurture the lives of others. We do this by:

  • not addicting to anything in any way

  • getting enough sleep

  • exercising

  • eating healthily

  • making time for love and play

  • getting whatever treatment we need to address medical and psychiatric issues

  • engaging in a spiritual practice and participating in a spiritual community.



A Process Of Progress

This is the truth about how to do recovery, something that no one does perfectly all the time. We are all imperfect, struggling to get by as best we can. Recovery is a lifelong process of progress, not perfection. We need to be kind to ourselves in the process. We should celebrate the successes we achieve in the process of recovery.

We need to examine carefully the ways in which we are not taking care of ourselves. We should notice how it feels; notice the feelings of conflict between the truth and our reality. We have to reflect on the long-term consequences and risks that lie before us and see clearly our lack of coherence with what is true, right and good.

We have to be patient with ourselves, as learning to love ourselves and repairing a lifetime of unskillful self-care can take time and much effort along with the help of our recovery mentors and supports.



The chains of addiction are not broken easily. Don’t give up! Persist and persevere. If you do, you will realize total recovery and the joy that comes with it.

Can't wait to release the suffering and start creating more joy in your life? Go to and download your free copy of 20 Ways to Realize Joy in Your Life now!


Dr. Michael McGee

Dr. McGee is currently the Chief Medical Officer of The Haven, a psychiatric treatment facility specializing in the treatment of addictions, located on California’s Central Coast. He also has a private practice in San Luis Obispo, where his approach combines psychotherapy and psychopharmacology. He includes psychospiritual interventions to complement biological, psychodynamic, interpersonal and cognitive-behavioral interventions.

Graduating with distinction from Stanford University with a degree in biology, he received his M.D. from Stanford University School of Medicine and completed his residency in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. He is board certified in general psychiatry, addiction psychiatry and psychosomatic medicine. He has extensive experience in general adult psychiatry and addiction treatment and is the author of The Joy Of Recovery: A Comprehensive Guide To Healing Addiction (2018).