The Addict

Michael Stein, Author . Morrow $25.99 (275p) ISBN 978-0-06-136813-4

With a crisp detachment that belies his vulnerability and caring, Stein (The Lonely Patient ) masterfully records the relentless pain—physical and psychological—that brings Lucy Fields, a 29-year-old Vicodin addict, to his door with “a peculiarly common modern American condition.” Though the literate and likable Brown University med school prof administers another drug that should block the effects of the Vicodin, he readily admits its success is far from perfect. A daunting addiction unfolds; Fields, college-educated and from an intact family, paradoxically defies yet also encompasses the stereotypical drug-user—she is both self-aware and self-destructive. It’s Lucy’s arc of illness that keeps this haunting narrative moving forward, but it’s Stein’s clear-eyed compassion that catapults her story from pathetic to sympathetic. “To enjoy treating addicts... one needed a sense of irony, the belief that everyone’s life vacillated between euphoria and sorrow,” Stein says. Experts might disagree on treating addiction, but Stein’s prescription is hard to dispute: first treat the illness, and then the aching soul sickness that caused it. “To work with addicts is to enter the profession of possibility,” he learns. In this uplifting chronicle, Stein celebrates Lucy’s victory and his own. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 02/16/2009
Release date: 03/01/2009
Genre: Nonfiction
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