An experienced addiction counselor examines the leading causes of drug and alcohol dependencies and suggests a new perspective for treatment and recovery.
In this debut clinical guide, McArnold shares wisdom gained from two decades of treating individuals addicted to drugs and alcohol. Relying on his experiences and several recent studies, including those performed by Nora Volkow of the National Institute of Drug Abuse, the author concludes that biological predisposition is the leading cause of chemical dependency, with psychological and social factors playing secondary roles. Indeed, McArnold makes the point that not all who drink or take drugs develop an addiction––“only those who are biologically vulnerable in the first place develop an addiction.” In Part 1, “A Call for Change,” McArnold provides an overview of addiction and discusses various theories about the causes of chemical dependency. According to the author, after a drug is taken, the biological response is constant (the body becomes dependent); however, the actual “addiction, the desire to use, can be completely eradicated.” McArnold sounds a call for change, making the case that biology and genetics play central roles in addiction and should be emphasized in developing recovery plans. The idea is to allow addicts to understand that their addiction is not a moral failure or a bad choice but a predilection. In Part II, “Moving Forward,” the author covers genetics, spiral progression and treatment approaches, as well as material referenced in earlier chapters. In all, McArnold’s book shows a noteworthy command of the subject, and his central thesis about the importance of focusing on biological predisposition is worthy of his peers’ review. However, with a great deal of addiction-counseling jargon—“the brain’s re-uptake and receptor sites appear to increase (or in some cases decrease) when neuro-transmitter levels are consistently too high”—the book likely will be too clinical for many readers. Similarly, the writing wanders at times, themes are repeated, and chapter organization isn’t always logical; the epilogue isn’t at the end, for instance. Readability would be greatly enhanced by reducing the book into smaller chapters divided into sections with titles, chapter summaries, and more charts and diagrams.
A solid review of addiction theories and treatments and a significant call for biology-based treatment; too bad it’s buried under clinical text in need of an editor.