Thinking Simply About Addiction: A Handbook for Recovery

Thinking Simply About Addiction: A Handbook for Recovery

by Richard Sandor

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This profound yet practical guide by a veteran recovery professional goes further than any other book in pinpointing why addictions are so tenacious, how we all suffer from them to a greater or lesser extent, and the true, time-tested steps toward freeing yourself.

No social problem today causes greater confusion than addiction. Whatever form it


This profound yet practical guide by a veteran recovery professional goes further than any other book in pinpointing why addictions are so tenacious, how we all suffer from them to a greater or lesser extent, and the true, time-tested steps toward freeing yourself.

No social problem today causes greater confusion than addiction. Whatever form it takes-alcohol, heroin, cocaine, nicotine, tears apart homes and relationships, destroys careers and futures, and leaves loved ones asking: Why couldn-t he stop once and for all? Or 'get better'? Or control himself?

Despite everything that's been said and written, many people remain deeply confounded about these problems. The addiction-treatment field itself is in a state of civil war because there is no consensus on what addiction is, much less what to do about it.

Based on years of hard-won experience by a preeminent specialist in addictive behavior, Thinking Simply About Addiction explains the core truth of addiction: It is not a neurosis, a physical malady, a behavioral choice, or, in the narrowest sense, a moral failure. It is an 'automatism'—an involuntary, non-stoppable behavior that once triggered leaves the addict powerless. It is a human problem and a part of human nature. As such, it is something that we all experience.

In four to-the-point chapters, Thinking Simply About Addiction rises above the noise level and provides real-world help and new ways of thinking for addicts and those who care for them. Its insights are so profoundly clear and sensible that many readers will be able to say: Finally, someone gets it.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review.

Sandor, a psychiatrist specializing in addiction, has put together a thought-provoking, compassionate guide for alcoholics and other addicts to understand and overcome their disease. Sandor explains addiction as a disease of "automaticity," a change in the functioning of the central nervous system "that cannot be eliminated but can be rendered dormant." Total abstinence, Sandor asserts, is the only way to control this automatic mechanism. He compares alcoholism to allergies, both of which involve a "pathological reaction to a substance," and discusses the biological, sociological and psychological factors that make some vulnerable. In Sandor's view, medical intervention is necessary for withdrawal symptoms, but the goal of treatment is "dedicated, active membership in a 12-step group" like Alcoholics Anonymous for life (in large part for the spiritual component, which necessitates "turning our will and lives over" to a higher power). Though understanding, practical and enlightening, the handbook's broader message, that addiction teaches "the same timeless lessons that bring meaning to all human suffering," is bound to be controversial.
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Library Journal

Sandor's book feels more like a personal summation of a life's work than a self-help guide. Reflecting on his nearly 30-year career as a psychiatrist, Sandor presents a series of essays on how to conceptualize and treat addiction, or, rather, how to help people address their addiction. By reviewing what science has learned about addiction, he argues that the answer to dealing with addiction is not found in biology but in responsibility and personal growth, embodied in AA principles. He also addresses two thorny issues skeptics question about the 12-step programs, i.e., total abstinence and the concept of a higher power. Sandor cites numerous other works and scatters aphorisms about life and addiction throughout, two qualities that make this thoughtful book a good jumping-off point on the topic. Anyone who wants to know about 12-step programs or is dealing with drug or alcohol addiction-his or her own or that of someone close-will find this work particularly useful. Recommended for public libraries.
—Fran Mentch

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Penguin Publishing Group
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Table of Contents


Title Page

Copyright Page




Chapter Two - WHY ME?

Chapter Three - DOES TREATMENT “WORK” ?





About the Author


Published by the Penguin Group

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Copyright © 2009 by Richard S. Sandor

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.
Published simultaneously in Canada


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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Sandor, Richard S.

eISBN : 978-1-101-02226-9

1. Drug addiction—Treatment. 2. Alcoholism—Treatment. I. Title.




Neither the publisher nor the author is engaged in rendering professional advice or services to the individual reader. The ideas, procedures, and suggestions contained in this book are not intended as a substitute for consulting with a physician. All matters regarding your health require medical supervision. Neither the author nor the publisher shall be liable or responsible for any loss or damage allegedly arising from any information or suggestion in this book.


Meet the Author

RICHARD S. SANDOR, M.D. , is a board-certified psychiatrist with more than twenty-five years experience in the addiction field. He has served as a medical director at several different nationally recognized drug and alcohol treatment programs, including the Betty Ford Center (Los Angeles outpatient), Promises Treatment Center, and Saint John's Health Center, has been on the clinical faculty of UCLA, and has served as president of the California Society of Addiction Medicine from 1993 to 1995.

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