The Heart of Addiction: A New Approach to Understanding and Managing Alcoholism and Other Addictive Behaviors

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9780060198114: The Heart of Addiction: A New Approach to Understanding and Managing Alcoholism and Other Addictive Behaviors

The Heart of Addiction, based on more than twenty-five years of clinical practice by distinguished psychiatrist Dr. Lance Dodes, presents a radical approach to understanding and harnessing the emotional forces that drive addictions.

Alcoholism and other addictions are among the most important problems we face in our society. Yet, if you look beyond pat ideas about their cause, such as "alcoholism is a disease," nobody has really had an answer for why people with addictive behaviors continue to repeat them in the face of their awful consequences. This book offers an answer to the core "Why?" question of alcoholism and other addictions.

Dr. Dodes sets out to change the way completely we treat alcoholism and other addictions, including compulsive gambling and sexual addiction. He describes how all addictions have at their heart certain emotional/ psychological factors that, once understood, can be successfully managed. He shows how these factors can be turned to good use to find exactly what alternatives will work for you as an individual. Filled with compelling case studies, Dr Dodes provides the keys to mastering addictions and answers the critical questions: Why do we feel the impulse? Why do we feel it when we do? How can we find what else to do in that critical moment?

This book provides the chance for you to do what so many of Dr. Dodes's patients have done: use this new understanding and the practical tools that flow from it to take back control of your lives.

Among the myths that Dr. Dodes debunks:

  • Addiction is fundamentally a physical problem.
  • Addiction is best treated in twelve-step programs.
  • People with addictions are different from other people.
  • People with addictions are self-destructive.
  • You have to hit bottom before you can get well.
  • You are wasting your time if you ask "why" you have an addiction

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Review:

It may be time for a closer look at some of our assumptions about addiction. Between the predominance of 12-step programs and incorrect information issued by the press, thousands of people are getting misinformation instead of the help they need. Lance Dodes, in his book The Heart of Addiction, reexamines common myths and provides a world of new recommendations aimed at helping anyone with an addiction, be it to gambling, alcohol, or prescription medications. Rather than focusing on the specific object of addiction, he chooses instead to look at the common desires and emotions present in anyone with addiction issues.

Through years of private practice and work in substance-abuse clinics, Dodes has noticed a pattern behind addiction--a pattern of anger, helplessness, and shame, coupled with a desire for immediate escape from these feelings. In presenting multiple composite cases, he shows us repeatedly that addiction is more than an uncontrollable desire for the substances; it is a behavior pattern with deeply emotional roots. Included are detailed explanations of differences between physical tolerance, abuse, and addiction, as well as an unusual questionnaire that focuses on the underlying reasons for drinking, rather than the more traditional one that covers specific amounts, methods, and results of imbibing. Separate chapters discuss particular issues of teens and couples, and special recommendations for seeking treatment are also included. --Jill Lightner

About the Author:

Lance Dodes, MD, is assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School in the Division on Addictions. He has been director of the substance abuse treatment unit of Harvard's McLean Hospital and director of the Boston Center for Problem Gambling. He has been elected a distinguished fellow of the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry.

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