“A gripping, illuminating book . . . Dr. Stein is drawn, in an almost Sherlock Holmesian way, toward trying to fathom and analyze addicts’ behavior. . . . hauntingly and successfully, Stein lets readers make a doctor’s experiences their own.” — New York Times “Beautifully told… [with] great insight, empathy and compassion.” — Abraham Verghese, author of The Tennis Partner, My Own Country, and Cutting for Stone The Addict is the powerful and revealing narrative of Dr. Michael Stein’s year-long treatment of a young woman addicted to Vicodin. Dr. Stein has followed up his award winning book The Lonely Patient with “a useful, sensible, and often inspiring guide to how the medical profession does—and should—treat the sick, and the sick at heart.” (Francine Prose, O magazine)
With a crisp detachment that belies his vulnerability and caring, Stein (The Lonely Patient) masterfully records the relentless pain physical and psychological that brings Lucy Fields, a 29-year-old Vicodin addict, to his door with "a peculiarly common modern American condition." Though the literate and likable Brown University med school prof administers another drug that should block the effects of the Vicodin, he readily admits its success is far from perfect. A daunting addiction unfolds; Fields, college-educated and from an intact family, paradoxically defies yet also encompasses the stereotypical drug-user she is both self-aware and self-destructive. It's Lucy's arc of illness that keeps this haunting narrative moving forward, but it's Stein's clear-eyed compassion that catapults her story from pathetic to sympathetic. "To enjoy treating addicts... one needed a sense of irony, the belief that everyone's life vacillated between euphoria and sorrow," Stein says. Experts might disagree on treating addiction, but Stein's prescription is hard to dispute: first treat the illness, and then the aching soul sickness that caused it. "To work with addicts is to enter the profession of possibility," he learns. In this uplifting chronicle, Stein celebrates Lucy's victory and his own.