Understanding Addiction As Self Medication: Finding Hope Behind the Pain

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Addictive behaviors beg for an informed explanation to guide patients, families, students, and clinicians through the maddening and often incomprehensible nature of the addictions. Too often addiction is perceived to be merely a moral weakness or purely a brain disease, ignoring the deep personal pain that can permeate the lives of the addicted. But taking an honest look at the underlying emotional or mental issues can more clearly illuminate not only the causes of the addiction, but also the cure. Doctors Edward J. Khantzian and Mark J. Albanese, leading researchers in the field of addiction, see addictions primarily as a kind of self medication—a self medication that can temporarily soothe anxiety or pain, but that ultimately wreaks havoc on the lives and health of both the addicted and their loved ones. With practical advice, compelling case studies, and nuanced theory drawn from their years in clinical practice, Doctors Khantzian and Albanese look at the core reasons behind many addictions and provide a pathway to hope. Understanding Addiction as Self Medication looks at a range of addictions, including alcohol and substance abuse, and clearly explains how to understand other addictive behaviors through the lens of the Self Medication Hypothesis. This book provides a much-needed guide to both understanding addictions and working towards healing.

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Editorial Reviews

Edward Hallowell
Doctors Khantzian and Albanese wrote this book directly from their experience with patients, as well as their close involvement with vast research. This blessedly brief and un-confusing volume, a tour de force that is original, useful, and wise. These two doctors, who have given their professional lives to understanding and helping those who are affected by addictions, now give to the world a consummate gift: what they know. Combining knowledge with love, the authors have moved the dialogue on addictions to an entirely new level.
Kathleen T. Brady
Understanding Addiction as Self Medication provides a clear explanation of the reasons behind many addictions, emphasizing the pain experienced by many addicted people. This is an important and readable book that provides useful insights to professionals, families, and friends, as well as individuals suffering with addictions.
CHOICE, April 2009 - W. Feigelman
April 2009 Professional Counselor
Understanding Addiction as Self-Medication is a worthwhile addition to the reading lists of counselors at all levels of experience....Understanding Addiction as Self-Medication pulls together a credible, non-judgmental theory of addiction.
Richard Frances
This book clearly explains the self-medication hypothesis, updates and modernizes it, and provides very useful insights and tools for clinicians, patients, and their families....What makes this a special book is the skill, understanding, and attitudes of these very gifted, experienced, and creative therapists.... The writing is clear, enjoyable and a fast read. Moreover, the book is written at a level that can be easily comprehended by sophisticated patients, their families, and workers in allied fields.
Martin Weegman
This book is an admirably clear exposition of how a universal human need to manage distress and control emotions can take extreme forms in addicted individuals, leading to perilous solutions and chemical careers. Doctors Khantzian and Albanese creatively use the Self Medication Hypothesis to explain multiple pathways into addiction and describe various exist routes, signifying hope, help and resolution.
November 2009 Am J Pyschiatry
Understanding Addiction is an easy and often engaging read and will primarily be useful for patients, families, and perhaps addiction therapists . . . [The authors] emphasize both the importance of other contributions to addictive disorders, such as genetic, social, and family influences, and the need to utilize a wide range of treatment approaches, including agonist therapies and other medications . . . Perhaps the most important contribution of Understanding Addiction is to remind us of the distinct experience, personal history, and intense suffering of the addicted patient.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780742561373
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 9/18/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 812,580
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Edward J. Khantzian, MD, is clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and associate chief of psychiatry at Tewksbury Hospital, Tewksbury, MA. Mark J. Albanese, MD, is director of Addictions Treatment Services at Cambridge Health Alliance and assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Foreword Chapter 2 Why Self Medication? Chapter 3 Addiction: Disease or Disorder Chapter 4 The Self-Medication Hypothesis and Addiction as a Problem in Self-Regulation Chapter 5 Self-Medication Hypothesis Research Chapter 6 Contexts and Models for Understanding Addiction—A Brief Overview Chapter 7 Suffering and Self-Medication Chapter 8 Self-Medication, Psychiatric Disorders, and Emotional Pain Chapter 9 Trauma and the Self-Medication Hypothesis Chapter 10 Addiction and the Perpetuation of Suffering Chapter 11 Nicotine, Marijuana and the Self-Medication Hypothesis Chapter 12 Gambling and Other Behavioral Disorders Chapter 13 The Neurobiology of Addictions Chapter 14 How the Self-Medication Hypothesis Can Guide Treatment and Recovery Chapter 15 Conclusion Chapter 16 Afterword

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