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Undoing Drugs

The Untold Story of Harm Reduction and the Future of Addiction

ebook / ISBN-13: 9780738285757

Price: $14.99 / $18.99 (CAD)

ON SALE: July 27th 2021

Genre: Nonfiction / Social Science / Disease & Health Issues

PAGE COUNT: 304

Journalist and New York Times bestselling author tackles the revolutionary concept of harm reduction, how it can transform the treatment of addiction, and how it holds the potential to revolutionize our treatment of behavioral and societal issues.

In her New York Times bestseller Unbroken Brain, journalist Maia Szalavitz took an unflinching look at addiction, challenging the idea of the “broken brain” to offer a groundbreaking perspective on addiction as a learning disorder. Now she turns her keen eye and narrative powers to the surprisingly simple–and extremely divisive–practice of harm reduction, which is a revolutionary means to solving the drug addiction crisis.

Drug overdoses now kill more Americans annually than guns, cars or breast cancer. But in the name of “sending the right message,” we have criminalized drug addiction, denied those who are addicted medical care, housing and other benefits, and have deliberately allowed the spread of fatal diseases. Yet there is an alternative to our present system, one that has been proven to work, but which runs counter to the received wisdom of our criminal and medical industrial complexes. It is called harm reduction.

A surprisingly simple idea with enormous power, harm reduction takes the focus off of drug use and instead works to minimize associated damage. It represents the philosophy behind needle exchange programs and providing heroin addicts with the overdose medication naloxone instead of arresting them. It is focused not on punishing pleasure but on minimizing harm; in essence, it is a wholesale refutation of the American way of justice.

Undoing Drugs tells the story of harm reduction. It will show how this concept has begun to transform the treatment of addiction and how it holds the potential to revolutionize how we deal with a range of other urgent behavioral and societal issues. Harm reduction challenges people to prioritize radical empathy and kindness over punishment as a way of not only dealing with drug use, but also in questions related to racism, sexism, disability and inequality. And, as Szalavitz shows, it says unequivocally that we must be more concerned about saving lives and health than about criminalizing quality-of-life crimes.

Szalavitz argues for a practical application of the Hippocratic oath to “First, do no harm” beyond medicine and to those who urgently need it most.

What's Inside

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Reader Reviews

Praise

Praise for Maia Szalavitz

"Maia Szalavitz is one of the bravest, smartest writers about addiction anywhere. Everything she writes should be read carefully--I guarantee you'll have a lot to think about, and you'll know far more than at the start."
Johann Hari, New York Times bestselling author of Chasing the Scream
"Maia Szalavitz is one of our most incisive thinkers about neuroscience in general and addiction in particular and her writing is astonishingly clear and compelling. In the timely, important, and insightful Unbroken Brain, Szalavitz seamlessly interweaves her moving personal story with her investigation into what addiction is (and isn't) and how we can most effectively prevent and treat it."
David Sheff, New York Times bestselling author of Clean and Beautiful Boy
"Through the lens of her own gripping story of addiction--supported with empirical evidence--Szalavitz persuasively shows that addiction is a disorder of learning, not one characterized by progressive brain dysfunction."
Carl Hart, PhD, author of the Pen/Faulkner award-winning High Price: A Neuroscientist's Journey of Self-Discovery That Challenges Everything You Know About Drugs and Society
"Of the countless writers out there who's focus is addiction, no one can begin to touch the brilliance of Maia Szalavitz. She is by far my favorite addiction writer, perhaps one of my favorite writers ever. Her passion and exceptional writing talent combined with her exhaustive research, create a book that will inspire, educate, enrage, and entertain. I can only promise one thing: if you read this book, you will never be the same again."
Kristen Johnston, actress, author of the New York Times bestselling memoir Guts, addiction advocate, founder of SLAM, NYC
"As more professionals realize that addiction isn't really a disease, our challenge is to determine exactly what it is. Szalavitz catalogs the latest scientific knowledge of the biological, environmental and social causes of addiction and explains precisely how they interact over development. The theory is articulate and tight, yet made accessible and compelling through the author's harrowing autobiography. Unbroken Brain provides the most comprehensive and readable explanation of addiction I've yet to see."
Marc Lewis, author of The Biology of Desire
"... a new way of looking at drug addiction that offers a fresh approach to managing it. [Szalavitz] writes frankly about her background .... In a heartfelt manner, she exposes her own fears and pain ... A dense blending of self-exposure, surprising statistics, and solid science reporting that presents addiction as a misunderstood coping mechanism, a problem whose true nature is not yet recognized by policymakers or the public."
Kirkus
"Anyone who has battled addiction or seen it harm a loved one will gain insights from Unbroken Brain, and if it influences policymakers, too, everyone will benefit..."

Carla Johnson, Associated Press, Big Story
"Journalist Szalavitz offers a multifaceted, ground-up renovation of the concept of addiction--both its causes and its cures."
PW
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