Charles Gant & Greg Lewis,
End Your Addiction Now
(Warner, 2004)

Things have come a long way since the days of the film Reefer Madness, when addiction was considered a form of immoral debauchery. In those days, the biochemical nature of addiction was unknown and it was assumed that all that was needed was simple moral strength to free oneself from the shackles of addiction.

Now, Drs. Charles Gant and Greg Lewis have written a drug manual for our times. Not only does End Your Addiction Now tackle those drugs society calls "bad," it also helps readers free themselves from prescription painkillers and drugs like Ritalin that should never have been used by the medical profession in the first place.

Gant, a member of the American Academy of Psychiatrists in Addiction & Alcoholism, has worked in hospitals and rehabilitation facilities and is well acquainted with substance abuse therapies. Much of his advice is geared towards the nutritional as opposed to the behavioral aspects of addiction.

The book shows how people develop substance problems -- generally because of a combination of emotional, biological and nutritional imbalance -- and what they encounter when they try to free themselves.

Much of the book feels like a nutritional and psychological guide, especially when the writers discuss the long-term problems of rebalancing one's biochemistry after alcohol, smoking, cocaine, painkillers and marijuana have worked their damage. In addition to medical information and statistics from recent research that include discussions on essential nutrients, detoxification and humanity's DNA code, the authors explore behavioral and lifestyle changes, the chemical balance between the brain and the emotions, the wrong-headedness of programs that don't respect the individuality of the addicted, the feeling of having lost one's life, medical diagnostic tests, physical symptoms and disease that accompany addictions especially nicotine addiction, useless or wrong-headed help from arrogant medical personnel and social workers and other aspects of addiction that are generally missing from books about the journey from addiction.

Although the authors encourage their readers with a quick-start program, which includes a questionnaire and mini-program on supplements, the book is definitely for those well-educated substance-abusers who are willing and able to explore biochemistry as a way out of their situation. The supplements -- which seem necessary-- also might prove to be a tad expensive for the average substance abuser.

This book aims to help the addicted person remake herself and that's a behavioral program many addicts will not be able to commit to -- at least not on their own and not without the help of a medical provider who believes in the power of nutrition to heal. This book, however, will be a powerful help for those people who are committed to freeing themselves. And it will also help those physicians who find themselves constantly dealing with patients who cannot be helped by such quick fixes as nicotine patches or a 12-step program.

The authors are compassionate people and their book is definitely non-judgmental. On one hand, this is a good balance to all the books that equate addiction with moral failure or societal problems. And yet, by focusing so much on the nutritional and biochemical aspects of addiction -- and not really exploring what brought people to their drugs of choice -- the book comes off as a bit one-sided. It's not as readable a book as it could have been, especially for a self-help book. Yet this book will probably help many.

by Carole McDonnell
15 July 2006

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