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Publishers WeeklyStarred 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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