Sunday, April 12, 2009

Cocaine and Methamphetamine Addiction: Treatment, Recovery, and Relapse Prevention

Arnold Washton, Ph.D.
Joan Ellen Zweben, Ph.D.

ISBN 13: 978-0-393-70302-3

Reviewed by Alceon

Cocaine and Methamphetamine Addiction
is a revision of a book published in 1989 originally called Cocaine Addiction. This new edition contains additional information about methamphetamine use and recovery as well the latest research and developments in addiction treatment.

The authors bring decades of personal experience in the drug rehabilitation field. They speak quite clearly of the need for complete abstinence from any mood-altering drug in order to maintain complete recovery from addiction regardless whether the drug is a stimulant or depressant such as alcohol.

Even though this book is specifically about treatment for and recovery from stimulant drugs, I think it would be of interest to anyone seeking information about recovery from drug abuse of any kind. I approached it from the standpoint of a past alcohol addiction and came to the very clear understanding that an addiction is an addiction regardless of the drug.

Washton and Zweben discuss the difference between a stimulant addiction vs. alcoholism (pg. 221 and chapter 2) and state that while there are "noteworthy differences" add that "most of these differences stem from the fact" that the progression to addiction from the first use of cocaine or methamphetamine is much more rapid (weeks to months) than that of alcohol, which may take 15 to 20 years to clearly develop. Thus the indications of addiction appear quite rapidly and are much more visible to others.

The authors address many issues in this book, beginning with an overview of the history and progression of stimulant drug use in this country. Chapters address the following information:

  1. Cocaine and Methamphetamine Use in America
  2. Understanding Stimulant Drugs
  3. Stimulants and Sex
  4. Treatment Approaches and Considerations
  5. Quitting Strategies
  6. Relapse Prevention Strategies
  7. The Role of Self Help Programs
  8. The Role of the Family
The primary focus of the book is on treatment and treatment options. In their practices, Washton & Zweben have noticed a synergistic effect when professional counseling is combined with group and/or self-help programs. Although 12-Step programs are the primary self-help groups discussed (mainly because AA/NA meetings are the most readily found world-wide) the authors are careful to address the reluctance many people have about the 12-Step protocol and discuss ways to address those issues. They also include a section about other self-help programs and LifeRing Secular Recovery is the first group mentioned in this section. Other groups include SMART Recovery, Women for Sobriety and SOS.

The book is extremely easy reading and contains many case examples from the authors' practices. There's no fancy medical jargon, just a lot of straight talk. Multiple charts throughout the book address topics such as Comparison of Cocaine and Methamphetamine, Quitting Strategies, Drug Triggers, Relapse Prevention Strategies and Points for the Family to Remember.

The Appendix has a 3-page list of Substance Abuse Web Sites and LifeRing Secular Recovery at is included.

There are 15 pages of References and a nicely compiled index.

For more information about this book and the authors, follow this link to the publisher's website:

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