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The Complete Family Guide to Addiction


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Table of Contents

Introduction: Family and Friends--The First Responders to the Addiction Crisis
I. What Is Addiction?
1. A Bewildering Illness
2. What Makes Someone an Addict, as Opposed to a Heavy Drinker or Recreational User?
3. How Addiction Affects the Brain
4. Why Do Some People Become Addicts and Others Don't?
5. So Is Addiction a Disease? (and If Not, What Is It?)
6. Why Do People Get Addicted to One Particular Substance and Not Others?
7. What About Gambling Addiction, Sex Addiction, Etc.?
II. Living with an Addict
8. How Addicts Behave
9. How Loved Ones Are Affected
10. Denial, Enabling, and Codependency
11. The Stigma of Addiction
12. Strategies to Get a Loved One into Treatment
13. How to Cope When a Loved One Is Refusing Treatment
14. Dealing with a Child Who Is an Addict
15. Dealing with a Spouse Who is an Addict
16. Dealing with a Parent Who Is an Addict
III. Keeping an Addict Out of Trouble
17. Can an Employee Be Fired for Being an Addict?
18. Drug Courts and Other Ways to Keep an Addict Out of Jail
19. Using Civil Commitment to Keep an Addict Safe
20. More Ways to Protect an Addict from Harm
IV. How Treatment Works
21. Can Addicts Get Well without Treatment?
22. A Brief Overview of Treatment Options
23. What Really Happens in Detox?
24. What Really Happens in Rehab?
25. How to Find a Good Rehab--and Pay for It
26. Psychotherapy Approaches That Are Used for Addicts
27. Drugs That Treat Alcohol Abuse
28. Drugs That Treat Opioid Abuse
29. Does Alcoholics Anonymous Actually Work?
30. AA-Type Groups for Addictions Other than Alcohol
31. Alternative Support Groups for People Who Don't Like AA
32. When an Addict Has Other Mental Health Problems
V. What to Expect in Recovery
33. What to Expect in Early Recovery
34. What Causes Relapse?
35. How to Prevent Relapse
36. What to Do If a Relapse Happens
37. Managing Addiction as a Long-Term Chronic Illness

About the Author

Thomas F. Harrison is a professional writer and the former editor of a national periodical for attorneys. After a close friend developed a substance use problem, he devoted himself to helping families and friends learn how to cope with the challenges of addiction. He is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Hilary S. Connery, MD, PhD, is Clinical Director of the Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Massachusetts, and Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Connery has worked to educate family members and involve them in treatment since entering clinical practice in 2000. Her expertise includes treatment of opioid use disorders and of co-occurring mental illness and substance use disorders. She contributed to the American Psychiatric Association Practice Guideline for Treatment of Substance Abuse and is an investigator in the New England Consortium of the National Drug Abuse Treatment Clinical Trials Network. Dr. Connery is New England Director for the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry and is a national physician mentor in the Prescriber's Clinical Support System, which trains practitioners throughout the country in evidence-based medical care for substance use disorders.


"Employing sensible, reader-friendly language, the authors give us a comprehensive, evidence-based primer on addictions, the challenges they pose for individuals and families, and the many treatment modalities currently available."--Gabor Mate, MD, author of In The Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters With Addiction

"Wow, someone finally gets it! As an addict with 13 years in recovery, this book gives me so much insight into addiction, codependency, and what I put my family through. It also reminds me what people did that helped me, and what didn't help. Every family member or friend of an addict should read this book! It brought back a lot of pain for me, but is so accurate and enlightening. It will help you save your loved one without ruining yourself in the process."--Taffy L., San Rafael, California

"This greatly needed book is packed with invaluable information for loved ones of people who struggle with addiction. Often lost and left by the wayside in addiction treatment, families are now taken by the hand and offered understandable explanations of complex concepts, presented in an unbiased way. The book's compendium of resources is remarkable."--Anne M. Fletcher, MS, RDN, author of Inside Rehab and Sober for Good

"Accessible and comprehensive, this book equips you with the latest understanding of the shattering challenges of addiction. Whether it is your grown child, spouse, or other loved one who is afflicted, this book reveals the best ways to offer support."--Robert Miranda Jr., PhD, Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, Brown University

"I strongly recommend this book to all families who are struggling to help a loved one with an addiction. I wish I'd had this book when I first started to realize that my son had a problem. The book explains the chemical changes in the brain that cause our loved ones to continue abuse, and gives us insight on how their thought process is altered. There is invaluable information on how to find support groups, financial aid for treatment, and the best treatment facilities. This book has brought me great peace by giving me a better understanding of my son's addiction and his journey to recovery."--Robin S., Atlanta, Georgia

"If you care about someone with an addiction, this is the book you need. Families and friends often spend months or years of frustration trying to figure out what addiction is and what they can do about it. This highly practical book cuts right to the chase--explaining the most current research and clinical experience in plain English--and tells you everything you need to know."--Joseph P. Scholl, LICSW, attending social worker, McLean Hospital

"Families who are knowledgeable about addiction and its treatment are in a better position to help the person they love. Without 'taking sides,' this easy-to-understand book describes a wide range of treatment approaches and provides useful suggestions and strategies for dealing with common issues. As an addiction treatment specialist, I found many useful ideas for educating my clients and their families."--Oscar G. Bukstein, MD, MPH, Department of Psychiatry, Boston Children's Hospital and Harvard Medical School

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