Recovery By Choice

A Workbook

Effective professionals tailor the treatment to fit the client. This is as true in the treatment of addictions as in any other practice. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), after a nationwide study of addiction treatment programs, found that:

"No single treatment is appropriate for all individuals. Matching treatment settings, interventions, and services to each individual's particular problems and needs is critical to his or her ultimate success in returning to productive functioning in the family, workplace, and society."

Recovery by Choice, written by Martin Nicolaus, the co-founder of LifeRing, is the first workbook that applies this basic principle of effective professional treatment to the recovering person’s own self-treatment, or self-help. Recovery by Choice provides a structure for the recovering person to build an abstinence-based recovery plan that matches their particular problems and needs — an abstinence-based Personal Recovery Program. Based on ten years’ work in support groups, the book presents the recovering person with a series of real-life choices.  The options are highly detailed, concrete, and knowing.  Readers quickly recognize themselves and their world and take up the work of making seemingly small decisions that, when strung together, will constitute their personal recovery pathway. The opening chapter presents a tool for making everyday decisions that reinforce recovery.  The book then moves through nine big problem areas ("Domains") where most people in recovery find they have work to do:

  • My Body
  • My Exposure to Addictive Substances
  • My Activities
  • My People
  • My Feelings
  • My Life Style
  • My History
  • My Culture
  • My Treatment and Support Groups

A chapter on relapse summarizes and deepens the material.  The concluding chapters lead the reader through the process of building a Personal Recovery Program for periods as short as a day and as long as a lifetime. The basic idea here is that the client attains the capacity to make wise choices — heavily impaired in addiction — through the repeated and progressive exercise of the choice-making “muscles.”  It is a strength-based, empowering approach that resonates with the best elements within the recovering psyche.  It respects the recovering person’s intelligence and the sincerity of their desire to recover. Building a Personal Recovery Program with Recovery by Choice stimulates the client’s motivation to get well.  Through dozens of worksheets and other exercises, the client engages in an intensely personal reconstruction effort that yields deep learning and personal investment in recovery. Recovery by Choice offers an eclectic, pragmatic, empathetic, positive, optimistic and sometimes humorous perspective. The author clearly has “been there.”  Hundreds of authentic recovering voices speak in its pages.  The text is gender-neutral and includes a broad and diverse range of people, situations, and resources. Sidebars grounded in the best modern research anchor the presentation. Reader response to Recovery by Choice is overwhelmingly positive (see a sample of testimonials, below).  Most readers take it up individually as bibliotherapy.  Some use it for group study within the LifeRing support group network.  A growing number of solo professionals provide it for their clients at intake.  Inpatient, outpatient, and criminal justice programs use Recovery by Choice wherever an abstinence-based, structured, positive, secular complement to the 12-step approach is called for.

Recovery by Choice plays well with any abstinence-based recovery philosophy. Now in its fourth printing, Recovery by Choice is available online from the LifeRing Bookstore or from your local LifeRing meeting. Recovery by Choice, A Workbook, 310 pp. 8.5" x 11", stay-flat binding. ISBN 978-0-9659429-3-5. Fourth edition, 2016. US$25.00 + S/H. Martin Nicolaus is the author of this book and co-founder of LifeRing Secular Recovery. He is retired and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Recovery by Choice is available for purchase here using your Credit Card or PayPal account.

Special Arrangements:

  • For institutional customers, booksellers, and convenors looking for discounted pricing and shipping quotes, please email
  • Treatment providers in for-profit settings must obtain reprint permission from the author, Martin Nicolaus at, to copy material from the work for use with clients.
  • Treatment providers in nonprofit settings are hereby granted permission to copy reasonable amounts from the work for use with clients.  In case of doubt, email at for questions.