The End of My Addiction

In recent decades, genetic research has supplied ample evidence to support the notion that alcoholism is not a moral failing but a disease of the brain -- a point of view that has had champions since at least the 18th century. But the general public -- and, surprisingly, many doctors -- largely persist in seeing addiction as a fundamental failure of willpower. As the French cardiologist Olivier Ameisen details in The End of My Addiction, moral judgments often interfere with doctors' ability to effectively treat addiction. "Treat" is the operative word, as conventional therapies offer support for the daily struggle to maintain abstinence rather than provide a cure. A habitué of AA meetings and rehab facilities, Ameisen often complained to his physicians that if they could treat his chronic anxiety disorder, his alcoholism would be cured. After years of frustration with conventional treatment, Ameisen began experimenting on himself with the muscle relaxant baclofen, which has successfully suppressed addiction to alcoholism, cocaine, and nicotine in laboratory rats. Ameisen was able to successfully treat his alcoholism -- as well as the underlying anxiety that led to his addiction -- and published a case study in a prominent medical journal. He was largely met with resistance from the entrenched medical community (though his work was later supported by the findings of other researchers), and in response he wrote this hybrid of a book. The result is part memoir, part critique of the medical establishment and drug industry. Most important, it's an argument for wider use of baclofen, made straight to the potential patient. This book will of course interest those who have suffered from addiction -- but it will also appeal to anyone curious about the science behind addiction's life-destroying power.

April 17: "In less than three years, both GM and Chrysler would be bankrupt, and a resurgent Ford would wow Wall Street..."

Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch is the winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. James Parker calls this Dickensian coming-of-age novel "an enveloping…

advertisement
Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Poems That Make Grown Men Cry

And women too.  Luminaries from Colin Firth to Nick Cave and Jonathan Franzen chose the poems that bring them to tears, and the result is a stunning collection of poignant verse from writers like Auden, Whitman, Bishop, Larkin, Neruda and many others.  Warning: choking-up hazard.

The King of Pain

Trapped beneath his entertainment system, reality TV mastermind Rick Salter reflects on his life and tries to piece together the events of the previous evening. Seth Kaufman’s romp is an outrageous meditation on pain and entertainment in a deranged world in which the two are often interchangeable.

The Good Inn

Frank Black, frontman for the Pixies, has written a transgressive historical fiction with shades of Thomas Pynchon (focused as it is on the history of explosives and cinematic pornography), all set in a hallucinatory Edwardian Europe.