By Michael Stein
288 pages; Morrow
Millions of Americans are addicted to prescription pain medication, and after reading Michael Stein's new book, you may wish you could make every one of them an appointment to see Stein at his Rhode Island clinic. Charting a year in the life of the internist-author and a young woman whom he is trying to help kick a nasty Vicodin habit, The Addict considers the possibilities and limitations of buprenorphine, an opiate blocker that Stein prescribes to reduce the agony of detoxification, and reveals the complexities of working with the often desperate people who come through Stein and his colleagues' office. Clearly, Stein believes that his ability to heal is directly related to his ability to listen to, and care about, his patients—to understand who they are and how they got that way. All of which makes The Addict more than a narrative about the forward and backward steps that lead from addiction to recovery. It's a useful, sensible, and often inspiring guide to how the medical profession does—and should—treat the sick, and the sick at heart.