Addiction Recovery Book Review: 10% Happier by Dan Harris


The impetus for the onset of an addictive disorder and its potential co-occurring mental health issues vary to a large degree from person to person. There is evidence of diagnosed cases where individuals with no history of addictive behavior start using after an injury is treated with an ill-fated prescription to opioid pain relievers, while other individuals develop addictive habits at a young age from their long history of self-medicating in their attempts to cope with the variety of undiagnosed mental health issues from which they suffer — PTSD, depression, anxiety, etc. That is not to say that there are not commonalities in these differing cases, but the individualistic nature of developing an addictive disorder, in particular one that involves a co-occurring mental health issue, is a large part of what makes preventative measures of treatment so difficult to ascribe. Just as each treatment is varied and unique to the individual, so is each individual’s path to an addiction disorder. 

With all these differences, it is no wonder addiction recovery treatment often seems like a daunting effort. However, there are two after-effects of substance misuse that appear to be universal to all diagnosed cases; two guarantees that every patient undergoes at the end of their path to an addictive disorder. That individuals suffering from an addictive disorder will feel: 

  1. Isolated and Alone
  2. Helpless and In Need of Guidance/Treatment

Self-help books covering the topic of addiction and addiction recovery provide solace for both of these universal symptoms; they can offer relatable personal accounts, as well as success stories that recovery patients and their loved ones can use for their own personal edification. The 2014 book 10% Happier accomplishes both of these feats while remaining approachable as Dan Harris details his very public struggle with addiction and the path he chose to seek out recovery treatment.

An Overview of 10% Happier

Dan Harris is an Emmy Award-winning national news anchor for ABC News, and his book begins with a very public meltdown in 2004 on Good Morning America. The nationally televised incident involved Harris suffering from a panic attack on live television while reporting the news to some 5.019 million viewers. The ensuing panic attack was the direct result of several years of self-medicating through substance misuse for anxiety and PTSD. 

He had returned from being a successful war correspondent and admittedly could not find his footing on return as his career seemed to be petering out in front of his own eyes. He turned to drugs and alcohol as a source of refuge, which naturally only led to more isolation, confusion, and mental anguish. The traits and behavioral patterns he thought were giving him the necessary edge in the competitive news world were eating him alive. 

The remainder of the book details his unique path to recovery as he searches for answers and a way to calm the incessant voice in his head. Following the advice of his mentor Peter Jennings, Harris abandons his hopes of becoming head news anchor and takes on the position of the network’s religious correspondent. Although Harris does not find God, he does find a new path to inner peace through meditation and mindfulness.  

In Review: Practical Advice

The book is very relatable, and Harris’ tone remains conversational through most of the text. Even the working aspects of his treatment of mindfulness and meditation are approached with the type of skepticism the general public has toward such mystic treatments of addiction disorders. This accounts for a large part of the success of Harris’ story — his relatability and inherent skepticism. 

Dan Harris’ relatability in the novel is even echoed by the title 10% Happier. He does not ascribe to some magic cure-all, just a potential method to bring a little bit more happiness and clarity into your life. The book also excels at making the practice of meditation seem approachable. Harris eventually went on a two-week meditation retreat, but the practices outlined in his book can easily be undertaken from the comfort of home. 

There are still unanswered questions in the end, as he even brings up his struggle with maintaining a zen mindset while still operating in the competitive real-world job market. Once again, Harris’ reliance on not answering all the questions makes his story even more of a success for addiction recovery readers. Overall, the book serves as a great beginner’s guide to meditation and mindfulness, and name-drops some excellent follow-up reads from the likes of Joseph Goldstein, Mark Epstein, and Sam Haris. 


If you are feeling isolated and helpless due to an addiction disorder, then Choice House has the treatment methods to help. We specialize in dual diagnosis treatment for men suffering from addictive disorders and co-occurring mental health issues. Utilizing a variety of therapeutic modalities, Choice House helps men create a new foundation of love and trust through healthy lifestyle activities. Our facilities are uniquely located in the Boulder County area of Colorado, and we take full advantage of having the Rocky Mountain National park in our background. Our outdoor therapeutic modality involves taking men isolated from substance misuse and helping them reclaim their identities through bonding activities with other men like hiking, rock climbing, and kayaking. We offer 90-day inpatient treatment, as well as intensive outpatient treatment options and residency at our sober living campus. The sober living campus also benefits from being just minutes away from the bustling downtown Louisville area; recovery patients staying on the sober living campus can receive necessary guidance and treatment while still transitioning to operating in the real world with the ability to find and maintain employment and have a social life. Find out more information about Choice House treatment programs by giving us a call today at (720) 577-4422.

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