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The Thirteenth Step: Addiction in the Age of Brain Science
Heilig, Markus
Columbia University Press / Softcover / 2018-02-01 / 0231172370
price: $26.50
320 pages
In Stock (Ships within one business day)

The past thirty years have witnessed a revolution in the science of addiction, yet we still rely on outdated methods of treatment. Expensive new programs for managing addiction are also flourishing, but since they are not based in science, they offer little benefit to people who cannot afford to lose money or faith in their recovery.

Clarifying the cutting-edge science of addiction for both practitioners and general readers, The Thirteenth Step pairs stories of real patients with explanations of key concepts relating to their illness. A police chief who disappears on the job illustrates the process through which a drug can trigger the brain circuits mediating relapse. One person's effort to find a burrito shack in a foreign city illuminates the reward prediction error signaled by the brain chemical dopamine. With these examples and more, this volume paints a vivid, readable portrait of drug seeking, escalation, and other aspects of addiction and suggests science-based treatments that promise to improve troubling relapse rates. Merging science and human experience, The Thirteenth Step offers compassionate, valuable answers to anyone who hopes for a better handle on a confounding disease.


Heilig makes the science of addiction accessible to both lay and professional audiences alike with an engaging conversational tone laced with humor and illustrative vignettes. He draws the reader in and effectively consolidates complex concepts. I applaud his efforts to bring the plight of the addicted to the attention of others and for his calling upon the field to do its very best to help.
Valerie J. Slaymaker, Hazelden Graduate School of Addiction Studies

It was a great pleasure to read this book. Without being openly critical of the usual talk therapy, Heilig outlines the newest treatments that should be offered to every patient suffering from addiction. He shows that treatments today can be based on recent scientific knowledge about what is happening in the brains of alcoholics and describes new treatments based on current knowledge about the disease. Heilig, a world-class expert, has done a tremendous service for patients and their families by writing this book.
Charles P. O'Brien, Department of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania

Markus Heilig sums up what he has learned during his twenty years as a physician and researcher in the treatment of alcohol and other addictive disorders.... An informative and compassionate chronicle.
Kirkus Reviews

Poignantly written and personal, yet presents the current science of addiction in a clear and engaging way. Markus Heilig's exploration of addiction science is beautifully written and is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand why addictive behaviors and bad habits are difficult to give up, and how to do it. Heilig has masterfully laid out his own clinical experiences and concisely presented the science of addiction. His book brings to life the countless devastating effects of addiction that affect individuals across all strata of society while attacking the stigma of addiction and shows the importance of neuroscience in understanding and treating it.
Rajita Sinha, chief, psychology section, Yale Medical School

Heilig is one of the wisest, smartest, most insightful people I know. And what Heilig is, so is this book. A fantastic journey across one of the most complex and misunderstood problems of our time.
Pier Vincenzo Piazza, director, Neurocentre Magendie

Recommended for anyone who suffers from addiction or who knows someone who does; undergraduate and graduate students, scholars, and researchers studying medicine, particularly addiction and neurology, and psychology; and anyone who has an interest in learning more about the subject.
Library Journal

What makes this book especially compelling is the author's ability to smoothly transition between dealing with addictions at the human clinical level and at the more abstract level of scientific research. Heilig admirably tries to extract the most meaningful takeaway points from sometimes-dense scientific findings.... Highly recommended.

Markus Heilig has succeeded in making the airy dismissals of biological evidence-based approaches to addiction, such as those he heard in medical school, no longer tenable.
Sťamus Sweeney, Times Literary Supplement

[The Thirteenth Step] offers a brilliant and, perhaps more important, highly legible review of current addiction science.... Heilig's synthesis invites us all to critically consider the addiction concept along with its implications for people, policy, and the practice of medicine.
Kyle Bridge, H-Sci-Med-Tech

About the Author:

Markus Heilig is a physician scientist and one of the most highly cited addiction researchers of his generation. For the past decade, he has led one of the largest research programs on addictive disorders in the world at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism at the National Institutes of Health. He is a fellow of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology and is an editor of leading scientific journals in the field.

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