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Heal Thyself: A Doctor at the Peak of His Medical Career, Destroyed by Alcohol--and the Personal Miracle That Brought Him Back Paperback – December 22, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-0374532208 ISBN-10: 0374532206 Edition: First Edition

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The Next Happy: Let Go of the Life You Planned and Find a New Way Forward
When the best option is to let go of the life you planned for yourself and find a new path, a world of possibilities can surprisingly open up.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Sarah Crichton Books; First Edition edition (December 22, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374532206
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374532208
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #88,870 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A French-American cardiologist then affiliated with New York Hospital–Cornell University Medical College descended into years of hellish alcohol addiction that essentially ended his medical practice in 1997. His move back to Paris and self-treatment with the unproven drug baclofen is the subject of this clinical, thoroughgoing memoir. Early on, Ameisen, the child of Holocaust survivors and an accomplished pianist, recognized that deep-seated anxiety was driving him to drink, yet doctors treated the drinking rather than the anxiety. He tried years of AA, rehab and medication, but in time he was binging again—blacking out and ending up in psych wards or the emergency room with broken bones. When he read about the muscle relaxant baclofen in a New York Times article, suggesting that it could repress the craving in addicts as well as control muscular spasm, he seized on the drug as his life line. He researched baclofen, prescribed it to himself (thanks to France's medical identity cards) and essentially used himself as a study over several months, increasing the dosage as necessary. The results were remarkable, and his dogged self–case study published by the journal Alcohol and Alcoholism in 2005 gathered slow but intensive interest. As a trained physician who is evidently well connected, Ameisen is not a typical patient, yet his work is brave, insightful and sure to be significant. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

“You have discovered the treatment for addiction.” Jean Dausset, M.D., winner of the 1980 Nobel Prize in Medicine
 

“This is not your usual memoir of addiction, degradation, and redemption.”— The Boston Globe

 

 

“Brave, insightful and sure to be significant.” —Publishers Weekly

 
“In this remarkably candid memoir of crippling alcoholism, cardiologist Ameisen’s passion for curing addiction is palpable, at times gritty, and, in the end, hopeful.”—Booklist
 
“WOW! . . . This is a wonderful book . . . Ameisen may be responsible for making a signal discovery much like, but better than, that of George Cotzias, [the first to show that L-dopa could alleviate Parkinson’s disease,] in that so many more patients may be involved.” —Jerome B. Posner, M.D., George C. Cotzias Chair of Neuro-oncology, Department of Neurology, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
 
“This book is . . . the story of the dazzling discovery of a cure that could soon be within reach of all. If you or someone close to you suffers from alcoholism or drug dependence, you must read this book.” —David Servan-Schreiber, M.D., Ph.D., author of The Instinct to Heal and Anticancer

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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If you know anyone with an addiction this book is a must have.
J
If ongoing studies corroborate Ameisen's results this will stand as a ground breaking work and a turning point in the treatment of addiction.
Ryan C. Holiday
This book is a fascinating read, which is difficult to put down.
Steven Sponaugle

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

54 of 54 people found the following review helpful By Ryan C. Holiday VINE VOICE on February 28, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I approached this book with some skepticism. By the end, I felt guilty to have been stuck making the same mistake as the highly-credentialed doctors who refused to consider the merits of Ameisen's research because they'd grown so fixated on traditional treatments. 12 Step programs are a god-send for many but considering their alarming relapse rates, doctors (and readers) remain open minded to new alternatives. Like the author rightly points out, we've come to believe that addiction is a disease but have been treating it the same way for nearly 70 years. For what other illness would that be acceptable? Where else would we tolerate prevailing sentiment that blames the victims?

The premise of the book is that after years of struggling with an addiction that lead to the voluntary closure of his medical practice, Dr. Ameisen begins to look for off-label solutions to his sickness. Believing that AA and rehab were not complete cures - attending 2 meetings a day for 7 years to only temporary success - he hears of a obscure drug called baclofen that has made some progress curing alcoholism in rats. He begins to self-prescribe the drug at very high doses, following the scientific method and recording the results when he can. High does of baclofen led to an almost immediate end of all craving and achieved 9 months of sobriety. An open minded editor of a medical journal agreed to publish his findings and this potential cure has been slowly making it's way through the medical community. Unfortunately, doctors are prey to the same entrenched dilemmas that all businesses are and they have been reluctant to experiment further with his ideas, despite the promising signs. Ameisen, thankfully, has remained sober since.
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41 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Jim Clark on January 17, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I really enjoyed this book, and I learned a lot from it about the experience of addiction and what the various treatments for it do and don't do. The author's search for a cure for his alcoholism reads like a scientific detective story, and his personal story is very moving. There are some wrenching experiences here, but it's all told with humility and a sense of humor. In fact, there are a number of very funny scenes that pack a wallop when you stop and think about them.

My own doctor told me that baclofen is a safe medication and that if it works for people the way it worked for the author and the other patients he talks about, it wouldn't be trading one addiction for another, but like the author says, would be like taking medication for any chronic health problem. It is fascinating to learn that baclofen works differently in the brain from the medications that are usually prescribed for addiction, and that it may also be good for anxiety and depression.

In addition to the help that baclofen could provide, I think this book will strike a powerful chord with anyone who's been affected by addiction, whether directly or through someone they know, and also with anyone who has struggled with anxiety or depression. And I bet that any doctors who treat those things and want to understand their patients better will gain a lot of insight from it.
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35 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Marshall H. Dahlin on April 4, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I have been an addictions counselor for 35 years and one tends to get a little cynical about the lack of progress in recovery rates for the various substance dependencies. So when I spied a copy of this book in the library the other day my reaction was, yeah sure, another magic cure for addiction. But something in the book cover drew me to pull it off the shelf to examine and that is when I saw that word again, baclofen. About 2 years ago HBO produced a documentary called Addiction and we had purchased it for our behavioral health department's outpatient substance abuse staff for educating our clients and ourselves as well on the latest scientific findings in addiction treatment. In one of the documentary segments there was mention of clinical trials for a drug called baclofen that I had never heard of before. Since then I had asked co-workers and staff doctors if they had any new information on these studies and it seemed no one knew anything about it.

This book has answered my questions and revealed baclofen to be a potentially powerful weapon in our treatment of addiction. My frustration, which is shared by the author is that because baclofen is an off patent medication there is no profit motive for drug companies to support clinical trials that would demonstrate its efficacy in treating addiction. Hopefully doctors can be encouraged to read the book and go ahead with some off label prescribing that will eventually create bottom up pressure for government agencies to fund the needed studies. I will certainly be encouraging the doctors I work with to read this excellent and courageous book and to act on its conclusions.
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32 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Steven Sponaugle on May 7, 2009
Format: Hardcover
The End of My Addiction is a courageous and important book which helps bring addiction treatment out of the dark ages. The 90 percent failure rate of Alcoholics Anonymous is widely understood on an intuitive level by the average citizen, who reads about the revolving door rehabs of celebrities and personally knows motivated, dedicated people, who are unable to overcome alcoholism, using antiquated slide rule era twelve step technology, based on the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, which was written in 1939.

Dr. Ameisen demonstrated what many of us have suspected- alcoholism is a biochemical imbalance, which ceases, along with alcohol craving, when the underlying biochemical imbalance is corrected. Anxiety, often caused by genetically transmitted glutamic acid dehydrogenase deficiency is one of the biochemical causes of alcoholism. Off label generic prescription Baclofen medication effectively treated Dr. Ameisen's alcoholism, when more widely accepted psychiatric and addiction treatments failed.

Baclofen can powerfully lower anxiety, especially in patients with muscle spasms or cramps. Although generally safe and nonaddicting, Florida Detox and Wellness Institute has learned Baclofen can be addictive, and Detoxing from Baclofen is very difficult, since there are essentially no other GABA B receptor agonists. Florida Detox has eliminated alcohol craving with Baclofen and when it works for patients they enthusiastically tell friends about it.

Neurotransmitter profiling could have detected excess glutamate or norepinephrine and deficient GABA neurotransmitter levels, years before Dr. Ameisen, swam against the current and persuaded open minded physicians to prescribe Baclofen off label, for his disabling alcoholism.
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Heal Thyself: A Doctor at the Peak of His Medical Career, Destroyed by Alcohol--and the Personal Miracle That Brought Him Back
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