The Addiction Solution: Treating Our Dependence on Opioids and Other Drugs

Scribner. May 2018. 224p. notes. index. ISBN 9781501179440. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781501179464. HEALTH
OrangeReviewStarSederer (chief medical officer, New York Office of Mental Health) argues that the United States is failing to control an addiction epidemic through "a dogged attachment to ideas and efforts that have not worked" rather than an evidence-based, public health approach. In this brief, readable overview, the author discusses factors that contribute to addiction, failed approaches, prevention, current treatments, and future directions. He portrays addiction as a complex illness—not a moral failing—that responds best to a combination of treatments tailored to an individual patient. Modalities discussed include (but are not limited to) medication, 12-step programs, mindfulness, and even LSD as an experimental treatment. He declares punitive or judgmental methods ineffective and advocates instead for "prevention, early intervention, [and] effective and comprehensive treatment programs," as well as "a cultural shift" toward understanding addiction's medical, psychological, and social aspects. Most of the writing is accessible to an educated lay audience, but the level of detail and extensive references make this useful for medical professionals needing further education on the subject.
VERDICT Enriched with patient case studies that illustrate the complex nature of this disease, Sederer's balanced and compassionate approach makes this a valuable addition to the conversation on this timely topic.
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