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The Selfish Brain

Learning From Addiction

Robert L. DuPont, M.D.

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


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

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