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The Heart of Addiction: A New Approach to Understanding and Managing Alcoholism and Other Addictive Behaviors Paperback – December 24, 2002
"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
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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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
In a study based on 25 years of professional practice, clinical psychiatrist Dodes (Harvard Medical Sch.) shares his refreshingly new insights into treating addictive behaviors. Rebuffing shallow explanations of these problems (such as categorizing addictions as diseases), Dodes instead explains the emotional underpinnings of addictive behaviors, revealing that they are preceded by feelings of helplessness or powerlessness. Working with addictive behaviors is one of the most difficult challenges faced in the helping professions, and, as the author frankly states, efforts are further hindered by the classic myths of addictions, including the notion that people are addicted to the things that are addictive and that "addicts" should always be treated by someone who also has the addiction. Filled with realistic case examples, this new approach challenges the prevalent thinking in professional practice while explaining why people feel an impulse to engage in unproductive addictive behavior and what they can do about it. Highly recommended for counselors, psychiatrists, and university libraries supporting helping profession curriculums. Dale Farris, Groves, TX
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Dodes' book is very compatible with the Self Management And Recovery Training (SMART) program and the psychological writings of Dr. Ellis and REBT. Dodes emphasizes the role our beliefs play in addictions. His emphasis is on discovering the driving force behind addictive behaviors. Other treatment modalities deal with the addictive power of the substance or behavior itself, i.e., how the drug or behavior effects an individual and why this occurs in physical terms or how the brain responds. Dodes, like SMART, says that in most cases, this is putting the cart before the horse.
While it may be interesting to see how certain parts of the brain respond to a substance or behavior, it is a mistake to ascribe those reactions as somehow the cause of the behavior. The activating cause or event is not nearly as important as the beliefs associated with that event. The problem is discovering what those beliefs are and learning how to manage the feelings of helplessness that are the real culprits behind real addictive behaviors, whether they involve a substance or not.
The difference between SMART and Dodes might be in the latter's emphasis on the need for an outside agency or person to discover and deal effectively with the penultimate cause(s) of an individual's problems. Dodes seems to think that since the individual is not aware of these real causes, since they oft times operate at an unconscious level, that therapy is necessary for the individual to discover them and find other, better, ways to address the feelings involved. Dodes, to be fair, does in one of the later chapters of the book, say that it is quite possible that just learning how this process works by reading his book might be enough to get an individual headed towards his or her own solution and cure for their addictions.
I agree with the author and think the book is well worth reading, if for no other reason that it gives a large number of real life case examples how this works with various forms of both substance and behavioral addictions. I would give it a 4-Star rating rather than a 5-Star only because the author's style and presentation is somewhat disjointed. Of course, human psychology and life is a pretty disjointed business too.
It's time for the mental health community to recognize that treatment must get to the root of the problem - the heart, or drive, behind the negative behavior. Meds and meetings won't solve the issue; they just control the 'symptoms' of a broken heart.
If you are suffering from an addiction, read the book and start journaling as though you are talking to a therapist like the author (if you currently don't have a therapist like him). Ask for truth to be revealed as you do this. It may be that you can find the point of helplessness that drives you to your addiction. It's worth a try. The main message of the book is very powerful. A must read for students of addiction.
Now I can better understand how to lead the life I want to live. Thanks.