A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
More people than ever before see themselves as addicted to, or recovering from, addiction, whether it be alcohol or drugs, prescription meds, sex, gambling, porn, or the internet. But despite the unprecedented attention, our understanding of addiction is trapped in unfounded 20th century ideas, addiction as a crime or as brain disease, and in equally outdated treatment.
Challenging both the idea of the addict's "broken brain" and the notion of a simple "addictive personality," The New York Times Bestseller, Unbroken Brain, offers a radical and groundbreaking new perspective, arguing that addictions are learning disorders and shows how seeing the condition this way can untangle our current debates over treatment, prevention and policy. Like autistic traits, addictive behaviors fall on a spectrum -- and they can be a normal response to an extreme situation. By illustrating what addiction is, and is not, the book illustrates how timing, history, family, peers, culture and chemicals come together to create both illness and recovery- and why there is no "addictive personality" or single treatment that works for all.
Combining Maia Szalavitz's personal story with a distillation of more than 25 years of science and research,Unbroken Brain provides a paradigm-shifting approach to thinking about addiction.
Her writings on radical addiction therapies have been featured in The Washington Post, Vice Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times, in addition to multiple other publications. She has been interviewed about her book on many radio shows including Fresh Air with Terry Gross and The Brian Lehrer show.
Journalist Szalavitz (Help at Any Cost) offers a multifaceted, ground-up renovation of the concept of addiction both its causes and its cures. Noting a recent increase in opioid abuse, she provides a reminder that dependency and its discontents have been around for a long time. Szalavitz's thesis is that addiction is not a brain disease, but rather a developmental disorder, one defined by compulsive, harmful behavior. In a sense, she is the ideal person to make this argument, as her knowledge is experiential as well as research-based: she is open about her own time spent in the trenches of addiction, which brought her to court and, finally, treatment. These personal accounts lend the book and some of its more radical claims necessary credibility. Yet they also, in some ways, limit the perspective to a more drug-specific bent. Szalavitz may alienate otherwise sympathetic readers with her critiques of popular treatment methodologies such as 12-step programs. This study may not be for people who have recovered using such treatments, but it can help promote the importance of understanding and working toward fixing a persistent problem.