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The Selfish Brain

Learning From Addiction

Robert L. DuPont, M.D.

  • ISBN 978-0-88048-686-6
  • Item #8686

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In this country, drug addiction and alcoholism have reached crisis proportions. The grim statistics illuminate the size of this crisis. More than 30 million Americans alive today will become addicted. The use of alcohol, tobacco, and illicit drugs causes one out of every four deaths in the United States. Illegal drug use now costs the nation $67 billion a year.

The Selfish Brain: Learning From Addiction takes a comprehensive, no-holds-barred look at the easy path to drug addiction and the tough road to recovery. Written in an easy-to-understand style, this book can help people confront addiction in their own lives and in their families by exploring the biological roots of addiction and the way addicts are allowed to deny their addiction by compassionate, well-meaning people. Based on his experience as a specialist on addiction and as a policymaker, former drug czar Robert L. DuPont, M.D., advocates tough-love measures to strip away the denial that allows addicts to remain trapped in their destructive habit and place them on the road to recovery. He examines treatment options, especially 12-step programs, which he believes are the most effective path to recovery. Powerful and often controversial, The Selfish Brain provides an honest examination of an insidious, destructive disease.


  • Foreword by Betty Ford.

    Thinking About Addiction.

    Addiction to alcohol and other drugs. A world history of drug abuse. The contemporary scene.

    The Brain and Addiction.

    The brain: target organ of addiction. Gateway drugs: alcohol, marijuana, and cocaine. Heroin and other drugs of abuse.

    Overcoming Addiction.

    The addict's career. Codependence: the mirror of addiction. Preventing addiction. Intervention and treatment. 12-step programs: a modern miracle. Tough policy choices to prevent addiction. The future of addiction. A personal footnote. Drug facts. Bibliotherapy. Appendix 1: 12-step fellowship and other mutual-aid group descriptions. Appendix 2: Resources. Index.

About the Authors

Robert L. DuPont, M.D., is clinical professor of psychiatry at Georgetown University School of Medicine in Washington, D.C. Dr. DuPont is a practicing psychiatrist who has specialized in the prevention and treatment of addiction to alcohol and other drugs for more than two decades. He was the first director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), serving under Presidents Nixon, Ford, and Carter. Dr. DuPont was also the second director of the White House drug abuse prevention office, a position now known as the drug czar. He is president of a nonprofit research organization, the Institute for Behavior and Health, Inc., and vice president of Bensinger, DuPont, and Associates, a national consulting firm specializing in the problems of addiction in the workplace. A second major area of professional interest is anxiety disorders such as agoraphobia, panic disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. He was the founding president of the Anxiety Disorders Association of America.

The Selfish Brain is written with candor and passion in a direct, logical style that is very useful for readers without a medical background. . . . This book is recommended to mental health professionals as well as non-professionals who are looking for a clear and practical overview of substance-related disorders as expressed in our society. The volume contains a great deal of practical information of value to all, and leads one to reflect on what family and public measures could be of benefit in combating this common, powerful, and cunning mental and physical health disorder.—Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic

This book is also fascinating reading in relation to updating the reader about the remarkable neuroscientific advances that have been made in understanding addiction in the last 25 years. . . . I believe it is a very valuable book not only for professionals but for any individuals trying to understand the complex nature of substance abuse as our country's number one public health problem.—The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease

Dr. DuPont has written this volume for everyone who is not already knowledgeable about the concepts and information that he so clearly illuminates. He obviously recognizes that it is too thorough and detailed for many readers, so, in the preface, he tell us how to get the most of the good from it by reading through it selectively.—American Journal of Psychiatry

This book is essential reading for those wishing to find out about the nature and philosophy of addiction, and issues concerning addiction from a particularly American point of view by an author pre-eminent in his field—White House 'drug czar' to President Ford and also first Director of the National Institute of Drug Abuse. . . . The book must be read and can only enhance and enrich one's approach to the complex and diverse problem of addiction. It should be read by everyone including addicts and their families.—Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry

This is a remarkable book in its scope, conviction, and perspective. . .Dupont provides a storehouse of useful and persuasive data, personal reflections, and his extensive clinical experience to support his position. . . . He is forceful in his point of view, which is a strength of this book. It could be powerfully persuasive and helpful for those who need and can accept such a rigid approach.—JAMA

The author is an expert in prevention and treatment of drug addiction, and he clearly cares passionately about drug abuse and its victims. This book will benefit all who are interested in ideas about the causes and cures of drug addiction.—Choice

This is a truly remarkable book—remarkable in its scope, its wisdom, and its clarity. Dr. DuPont has drawn upon his lifetime career experience as a psychiatrist specializing in drug abuse and as a former government official (first Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse) to produce this most interesting account. . . . What has been learned from basic research on the biologic basis of drug-seeking behavior is simplified for the nonscientist reader to understand. The properties of the several families of addictive drugs are explained fully and correctly. And the sections on drug policy and the societal dangers of a culture that tolerates drug use are exemplary in this reviewer's opinion. Especially persuasive are the arguments against any form of drug legalization.—Avram Goldstein, M.D., Addiction

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