America Anonymous: Eight Addicts in Search of a Life
AMERICA ANONYMOUS is the unforgettable story of eight men and women struggling with addictions. For nearly three years acclaimed journalist Benoit Denizet-Lewis immersed himself in their lives as they battled drug and alcohol abuse, overeating, and compulsive gambling and sexuality.
Alternating with their stories is Denizet-Lewis’s candid account of his own recovery from sexual addiction and his compelling examination of our culture of addiction, where we obsessively search for new and innovative ways to escape the reality of the present moment and make ourselves “feel better.”
Addiction is arguably this country’s biggest public-health crisis, triggering and exacerbating many of our most pressing social problems, from crime to child abuse and neglect. But while cancer and AIDS survivors have taken to the streets and to the halls of Congress demanding to be heard, millions of addicts talk only to one another in the confines of anonymous Twelve Step meetings. Through the riveting stories in this book, Denizet-Lewis shines a spotlight on addiction and breaks through the shame and denial that still shape our understanding of it—and hamper our ability to treat it.
As these eight addicts stumble, fall, and try again to make a different and better life, Denizet-Lewis records their struggles, and his own, with honesty and empathy.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, an estimated 23 million Americans are hooked on drugs or alcohol, representing an annual economic loss of $524 billion. Millions more have become enslaved to other compulsive behaviors: overeating, sex, gambling and shoplifting. In his first book, Denizet-Louis follows eight average Americans-including an athlete and a grandparent- who are struggling with addiction. The author covers three years in the lives of his subjects, portraying them with candor and compassion, giving these compulsions a more human face by telling the story of his own sex and pornography dependence, for which he twice sought inpatient treatment. This book provides an intriguing glimpse into the brain of an addict and the new hit or miss treatments-dopamine blockers and antieuphoria medications. While the excerpted e-mails and taped monologues might test the reader's patience, Denizet-Lewis is a compelling storyteller, and his wide-range of stories of addiction, relapse and recovery far exceeds other books in the genre. (Jan.)
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Benoit Denizet-Lewis is a writer with The New York Times Magazine and an assistant professor of writing and publishing at Emerson College. He is the author of Travels With Casey, America Anonymous: Eight Addicts in Search of a Life, and has contributed to Sports Illustrated, The New Republic, Details, Slate, Salon, Out, and many others. Denizet-Lewis lives in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts. Follow him @BenoitDLewis.