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Publisher's Summary

More people than ever before see themselves as addicted to or recovering from addiction, whether it's alcohol or drugs, prescription meds, sex, gambling, porn, or the Internet. But despite the unprecedented attention, our understanding of addiction is trapped in unfounded 20th-century ideas, addiction as a crime or as brain disease, and equally outdated treatment.

Challenging both the idea of the addict's "broken brain" and the notion of a simple "addictive personality", Unbroken Brain offers a radical and groundbreaking new perspective, arguing that addiction is a learning disorder, and shows how seeing the condition this way can untangle our current debates over treatment, prevention, and policy. Like autistic traits, addictive behaviors fall on a spectrum - and they can be a normal response to an extreme situation. By illustrating what addiction is and is not, the book illustrates how timing, history, family, peers, culture, and chemicals come together to create both illness and recovery - and why there is no "addictive personality" or single treatment that works for all.

Combining Maia Szalavitz's personal story with a distillation of more than 25 years of science and research, Unbroken Brain provides a paradigm-shifting approach to thinking about addiction.

©2016 Maia Szalavitz (P)2016 Audible, Inc.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.3 out of 5.0
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  • 4.3 out of 5.0
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Story

  • 4.3 out of 5.0
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  • Overall
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  • Story

Not what I expected

I bought this book because I wanted to learn more about addiction as a learning disorder. There wasn't much development of this idea to explain more about why it is a learning disorder or how thinking of it that way would change our understanding of it. Instead, the author just asserted it as a basis for a lengthy discussion of the problems with current drug policies and the need for reform. I'm sympathetic to her viewpoint but was disappointed because I have heard these arguments before.

39 of 41 people found this review helpful

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  • Story

An incredible new way of understanding addiction

If you or a loved one struggles or has struggled with addiction you owe it to yourself to read this book. The story is incredible but the research and journalism on display are staggering in their completeness and depth of thought. This is one of the most important books I've ever read.

14 of 16 people found this review helpful

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Disappointing

What would have made Unbroken Brain better?

I really like the concept of this book, but there are so many factual errors that I cannot continue to listen to it. I am a behavioral psychologist, and someone in my field should have been asked to proofread this book for accuracy. The author has an interesting idea, but she lacks a clear understanding of the research and concepts in the field of psychology. It is unfortunate that so much myth and misinformation made its way into publication.

20 of 24 people found this review helpful

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  • Story
  • Garry
  • Honolulu, HI, United States
  • 07-07-16

Reconsidering all I thought I knew

I was raised by a raging alcoholic father and a "wire monkey" mother. I've been involved in three interventions. I went to ACA meetings on a weekly basis for ten years. I thought I knew a lot about addiction. I did not.

19 of 23 people found this review helpful

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Disappointing and painful

I tried to finish this book. I initially thought the narrator sounded like GLaDOS from Portal. However, a book that I thought would be enlightening like An Unquiet Mind, felt whiny and unfinished. It is pocked with inaccuracy (i.e. clonidine is NOT a beta blocker) and one-sided generalizations. The autobiographer comes from an over privileged background and has perceptions of being a misunderstood maligned minority. Her autobiography is dotted with term paper-like partial quotations and citations. Summaries of scientific and medical information is partial and lacking of key points, instead using pseudoscientific words such as 'statistics show' or 'studies show'. This causes frustration and was ultimately what made this audiobook a singular case since I usually can finish a book even if it is not what I thought I was buying.

10 of 12 people found this review helpful

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PLEASE read this book!

Extremely educational for people who have little understanding of addiction or that world. This book totally changed my view on so many ideas, and gave me plausible, effective solutions to help my loved ones. I will be reading it again and owning a hard copy.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Groundbreaking and thought provoking!

Five stars! The most important book in the history of understanding addiction! Wonderfully narrated and so easy to listen to, this audiobook will help thousands, if not millions, of people suffering from addiction and the family and loved ones of addicts who are struggling to understand addiction! This book is a blessing and a gift to humanity! I can't begin to describe how much this book has touched my life and helped my sobriety! I really enjoyed holding the hardback book and a highlighter while listening to this book on my headphones, highlighting passages I found relevant and really immersing myself in the book! I've listened to and read this book several times, the amount of information and data presented here is astonishing! Thank you, Audible, for making this book available! And thank you, Maia Szalavitz, this book will be the most important book about addiction of the decade, perhaps the century, I believe it is the most profound book dealing with addiction ever written! Marisa Vitali was a PERFECT choice for a narrator and brings each page alive with her inflection and delivery! I recommend this book to anyone struggling with addiction and anyone ready to accept the reality of addiction and how it effects each individual and our society. The conclusion is wonderful and presents several scientific approaches for freeing oneself from addiction! I can't praise this audiobook enough! Thank you again, Audible!

10 of 13 people found this review helpful

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A must-read for anyone working with addiction

This book was critical for me in my work with people with addictions. It validated my instincts about the fundamental need for compassion and understanding in addictions treatment, and also gave me new techniques to use and study further.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Excellent NEW way of looking at a big problem!

Would you listen to Unbroken Brain again? Why?

Ms Szalavitz offers a fresh and welcome perspective on the opioid issue, something we desperately need to hear if you have a personal or professional reason for trying to understand the issue.

What did you like best about this story?

The author is speaking from both personal experience and years of research, she is highly credible and obviously a very intelligent individual.

What does Marisa Vitali bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

I simply prefer listening to books while I travel.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

What everyone needs to know about addiction!

Any additional comments?

I would highly recommend that people in social services, counseling services, law enforcement, mental health services and any other field where understanding addiction is important . . . READ THIS BOOK! And read it with an open mind since most of us are used to hearing the same old, same old information over and over. Obviously if what we 'think' we know about addiction were the full story, we wouldn't be in the midst of one of the most deadly eras in drug addiction, of all time, in this country.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Amazing

everyone who is interested in learning more about addiction should read this book. I highly recommend.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful