Wall Street Journal Book Review

What lessons can be gleaned from Mr. Lewis’s life and brain? Foremost, his story illustrates the paradox of addiction: that even though the brain is changed by drugs, the brain-owner is not helpless. He can, if motivated, devise strategies to deafen himself to the siren call of altered states.

Mr. Lewis also reminds us that people keep using not just because of the physiological dynamics of addiction but because drugs serve a purpose. They quell anxiety, dissolve boredom, suppress self-loathing. As he puts it: “In one way or another, whether they are junkies or executives, people take drugs because they are not feeling right.” The conventional wisdom among many experts, that addiction is a “chronic and relapsing brain disease,” cannot readily accommodate such reality.

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