Book review: Anatomy of Addiction

Anatomy of Addiction

Thank you Kelly for your comment below! Congratulations, enjoy your copy, and thank you for the good work that you must do!

Anatomy of Addiction was a title that grabbed me. I think we have all been touched by addiction in one way or another. Addiction may have affected close friends or family members battling alcohol or drug dependency, or you may live in communities where prescription drug abuse is prevalent or on the rise. Maybe your city, county, or state is one of the unfortunate locations known for increased heroin, meth, or other illegal drug abuse and fatalities.

Dependency vs. Addiction

Dr. Akikur Mohammad draws a distinction early on in his book, between dependency and addiction. Why can someone quit drinking or using drugs relatively easy or successfully, and others are on a life long roller coaster of using and staying clean? Mohammad explains that there is a genetic component. Although we later find out in his book that there is no genetic testing yet available to predict or confirm this, there are medical tools like brain scans and MRI’s that are underutilized in the diagnosis for treatment. He goes on to stress, using various examples and scenarios, that our system of “rehab” in America is antiquated and is not successful in helping people with their addiction or dependency issues soon enough. He stresses the need for medical intervention, not in just the “detox” phase, but perhaps more importantly, after the first 10 days of detox. Getting to the root cause with a medical diagnosis, and using medications when appropriate can set a person in recovery up for success rather than failure the FIRST time they start a treatment program.

It is true that AA has worked for thousands of people, but it is also true that AA has failed thousands of people. Mohammad gives credit to Bill Wilson, the founder of AA, but gives us insight on where and why AA falls short for so many people, and explains the real dangers associated with it, from a medical perspective.

I found it interesting that it took until ¾ of the book for him to address mental illness as a diagnosis. Whether it be a degree of bipolar, schizophrenia, depression, ADD/ADHD, panic disorder, or other, in my personal circles, one of these is usually recognized as the underlying diagnosis, or what Mohammad will term a dual diagnosis.

Why can one person have a drink, smoke a joint, pop a pill, or shoot/snort a line and never become dependent or addicted, while the next person will have a lifelong issue after their very first experience with a controlled substance? That is such a fascinating question, and there is a range of answers, but Mohadammad always brings it back to the fact that it has to be a genetic component that needs more research. Take that a step further: is there an epi-genetic component that alters our DNA based on use?

The takeaway

Substance abuse is a big problem, rooted in history, involving big money and industry, along with our unwillingness as a society to admit we have done some things wrong. “Just Say No” and “The War on Drugs”, combined with the way we criminalize someone because of their disease of addiction, and lack of advancement in the treatment of this disease, have all lead us to where we are today. There are no easy answers, and like many diseases, peoples treatments need to be customized. Sometimes it seems like there are grey areas because of everyone’s unique experiences, but there are steps moving in the right direction. The Affordable Care Act now ensures that treatment of substance abuse is covered under medical insurance, treating it just like any other disease. This means that hospitalization, therapy, and prescription drugs are available to help the patient manage their treatment just like they would if they had diabetes. More medical students will now receive basic training and learn to understand addiction as a disease, that requires a proper diagnosis, which will help save patients from immediate danger, long-term setbacks and further health issues.

Questions I was left with

  • Addiction is treatable, but can it be cured?
  • What role does/can nutrition and supplementation successfully play in treatment and prevention?
  • Is there an “allergy” component to addiction?
  • What is the common thread that connects all addiction whether it be to food, sex, gambling, etc?

In conclusion

This book is fascinating, but also a bit frustrating and a bit of a bummer. The last chapter of the book points out that fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) is still a real problem with lasting and detrimental affects on our society.
It makes me believe more than ever that ALL controlled substances should be either legal or illegal, and that tobacco should be included in that group. They all have an equal potential to be deadly, and all cause proven long-term health issues and diseases. They are all equally harmful so I feel they should all be treated as equals in regulation, one way or the other.
If you or a loved one ever needs treatment, do your homework. The facility should have medical detox available, but then continue to offer medical and evidence based recovery. We now know that the 12 steps are not always enough, and you want your treatment to have a holistic approach that includes medical diagnosis which seeks the true cause of your dependency or addiction.

If you would like to win a copy of Anatomy of Addiction, let us know in the comments below, one winner will be chosen!

One Response to Book review: Anatomy of Addiction

  1. Kelly M. says:

    I would love a copy of this book. I am a therapist, and I know this would help myself as well as numerous clients!

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