Thinking Simply About Addiction: A Handbook for Recovery

Overview

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, etc...it tears apart homes and relationships, destroys careers and futures, and leaves loved ...

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Thinking Simply About Addiction: A Handbook for Recovery

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Overview

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, etc...it 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.

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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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781585426881
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 3/5/2009
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 208
  • Sales rank: 821,313
  • Product dimensions: 5.46 (w) x 8.14 (h) x 0.53 (d)

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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Table of Contents

Preface vii

Chapter One Is Addiction A Disease? 1

Introduction. The Value of Understanding. A Little Story About Understanding. Powerlessness: The Essential Experience of Addiction. The Control Conundrum. Automaticity: Rethinking the Disease Concept of Addiction. Relapse. Progression. Summing Up.

Chapter Two Why Me? 37

Resistance and Susceptibility. Risk Factors for Developing an Addiction. Biological Factors. Sociological Factors. Psychological Factors. The Spectrum of Addiction. Summing Up.

Chapter Three Does Treatment "Work"? 71

The Problem of Diagnosis. What Is Treatment? The Problem of Measuring Treatment Outcome. Recovery from Addiction. Beyond Abstinence: The Goal of Treatment. The Dimensions of Treatment: Biological. The Dimensions of Treatment: Emotional. The Dimensions of Treatment: Cognitive. The Dimensions of Treatment: Spiritual. Why Can't Medical Science "Cure" Addiction? Summing Up.

Chapter Four Is A Spiritual Awakening Necessary For Recovery? 133

Some Definitions: Meaning. Spiritual. Recovery. Addiction: A New Metaphor for Human Suffering. Why a New Metaphor? Thinking About a Higher Power. Are Science and Spirituality Compatible? "As Above, So Below." Something from Nothing: Mind, Brain, and a Higher Dimension. Evidence of a Higher Dimension: The Present Moment.

References 177

Index 183

About the Author 191

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