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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Can he fix my problem
Several things made this book stand out for me. First he nailed the issue of addiction: availability. The reward centres in our brain will always be triggered but those are kept at bay if we don't have the availability to satisfy them. Modern-world abundance means temptation will always be available. Our "thing" will be on tap, with companies going out of their way to...
Published 14 months ago by Rob Miles

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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A 260pp Feature Article
I'm fascinated by addiction and this book is written well, but very much in the style of a newspaper article. When Mr Thompson wants some thoughts on low-fat alternatives, he goes to see his mate Henry Dimbleby. Indeed most of the expert opinion comes from his acquaintances. Much of the stuff is lurid, but I liked the author's confessional style.

I've...
Published 21 months ago by William Cohen


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Can he fix my problem, 31 May 2013
This review is from: The Fix (Paperback)
Several things made this book stand out for me. First he nailed the issue of addiction: availability. The reward centres in our brain will always be triggered but those are kept at bay if we don't have the availability to satisfy them. Modern-world abundance means temptation will always be available. Our "thing" will be on tap, with companies going out of their way to entice you. Second, he attacks the 12 Steps route out. That states you have a disease and that you'll never be cured: hence the "I'm John and I'm an alcoholic" statement at AA meetings. His view is that the 12 Steps route ties you to your addiction. Really, you just need to understand how your brain deals with temptation (via cues) and the near-instant formation of habit, and availability. It has helped me resist those sugary snacks I like - just by knowing what's going on. I've always been pro-business, but I do wonder whether it's morally right for companies to tailor their offerings to make them so addictive: Thompson certainly opened my eyes in this respect. It's also a great read.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A 260pp Feature Article, 1 Nov 2012
By 
William Cohen (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Fix (Hardcover)
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I'm fascinated by addiction and this book is written well, but very much in the style of a newspaper article. When Mr Thompson wants some thoughts on low-fat alternatives, he goes to see his mate Henry Dimbleby. Indeed most of the expert opinion comes from his acquaintances. Much of the stuff is lurid, but I liked the author's confessional style.

I've researched AA a bit, and whereas I can see the validity of his criticisms, the point is that AA is a path to take for those who have reached an impasse, and whether alcoholism is a disease or not is not so important as does it work as a way to beat the booze? It offers a fellowship of men and women who share a goal.

The point that we can be tempted to choose things over people is a good one. I read this book in about three days, so while it might not be a masterpiece, you'll probably get to the end of it.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Raises Important Issues..., 25 May 2012
By 
G. K. Lowell "gkl206" (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Fix (Kindle Edition)
There's no doubt that people consuming much more of various things than is good for them is a major health issue: huge and rapidly-growing numbers are suffering liver damage from excessive alcohol consumption, the most perfunctory glance around shows the number of severely obese people is rising rapidly to give two obvious examples.
What Telegraph journalist and former alcoholic Damien Thompson argues persuasively is that in addition to the more traditional image of the addict injecting heroin or drinking alcohol first thing in the morning many other people are being drawn into addictive patterns of behaviour by skilful manipulation of brain chemistry, leading to games, gambling, pornography, electronic consumer goods, foodstuffs all developing - indeed being consciously designed to have - addictive qualities.

Alert readers will have noticed Mr Thompson being referred to as a former alcoholic rather than the more common usage "recovering". That is quite deliberate. The book has an ambivalent attitude towards the orthodox perspective on addiction offered by the 12 Step philosophies (Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous and variants thereon.) While the author has used them and gained benefits from them he is also critical of the "disease model" which they use and which has become the most common method of understanding addiction.

It is rather surprising to find no reference to Herbert Fingarette'sHeavy Drinking: The Myth of Alcoholism as a Disease which examined the subject scientifically and found that not only is 12 Step treatment pretty ineffectual - usually about the same as spontaneous remission (or in everyday language a boozer is just as likely to stop drinking without AA as with)but that the ideology of alcoholics having no self-control means that if someone who has been attending AA resumes drinking they drink more and do more harm to themselves than than someone who has not received that form of treatment.

While there is a great deal of important information in this book, and I would recommend reading it I do have some reservations. Mr Thompson's understandable personal sympathy for AA and 12 Steps - he has clearly gained something personally from them - prevents him, in my opinion from carrying the logic of the rest of his argument to its conclusion, that the disease model of addiction and much of the "rehab" industry is in many cases actively perpetuating a cycle of substance abuse, rehab, relapse and preventing the adoption of more behaviourally-based models of treatment which could be more effective.

And while much of the book is extremely persuasive the section on internet usage relies much too heavily on anecdotal evidence and to my mind gives far too much credence to Baroness Greefield's unfounded assertions.

But overall an important book on an important issue.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Important reading, 28 May 2013
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This review is from: The Fix (Hardcover)
If you're feeling beseeched from all sides by a life you're not entirely sure you wanted, this book offers a few ideas of how you might have got there. Essential reading for those of us who live in a 'western' culture, whether you're happy with it or not, it offers some guidance through the potential pitfalls of modern living.
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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Scary but lots of fun, 22 May 2012
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This review is from: The Fix (Hardcover)
This book joins the dots between all sorts of addictions - to internet porn, computer games, prescription drugs and cup cakes. I liked the clear and simple explanation of why our brain chemistry link these things together. Thompson is a witty writer who even persuaded me that eating disorders have their funny side, but overall the message is an alarming one that rings very true. So this gets five stars from me.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I couldn't put this book down!, 17 Jun 2012
By 
Mr. T Holton "Tim" (Warwickshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Fix (Kindle Edition)
Well, somebody had to use this as a title for a review of a book about addiction, so I thought I would get there first.

I wouldn't describe myself as addicted to anything. But I have noticed addictive tendencies in myself as I go through life and so this book caught my eye. Damian accurately unveils the wrong-thinking behind the so-often heard phrase, 'I couldn't help myself'. It is something we have always known deep down - and is both a frightening challenge and a wonderful release to see the truth laid bare.

We really can choose. And calling 'addiction' a 'disease' is an oversimplification.

One of the key evidences of his argument is the addiction and subsequent spontaneous curing of US heroin-addict soldiers returning from Vietnam. If they were really suffering from a disease then the majority wouldn't have kicked the habit so easily when they returned to the States where opportunity and need were both massively reduced.

Although to a far lesser degree, this related to my own experience - where opportunity and emotional need drive behaviours that are less than ideal. He highlights the variety of ways that modern life - from junk food to the internet and to booze - provide those easy opportunities for little 'pick-me-ups' but then lead us to be disappointed in ourselves, harm ourselves and our relationships, or just destroy ourselves. He talks a lot about dopamine which I kind of followed, but there's an awful lot of uncertainty about the science, and it is very difficult to draw distinct and objective lines of causation in all this. There are several chapters on alcoholism, internet porn and drugs that show the continuum of addiction has some horrific extremes. He is more honest than I would be.

The opportunity and psychological need that we have for these little 'fixes' is what the free-marketeers play-on so readily, and what gives us the excuses we need to hide behind when self-discipline deserts us (or should that be when we desert self-discipline?) He also refers to the pyramid of addictive behaviour - where the top third represent sold-out addicts, the middle third those who struggle with addictive tendency, and the bottom third represents the majority who don't run into problems except when opportunity and need coincide. He points out that modern life is squeezing down on this pyramid - making it harder for all of us no matter where we sit in the pyramid. I agree absolutely.

A cracking good read to boot. My only criticism is that he reiterates the same kind of points many times from different angles. I recognize the strength of this in justifying his arguments, but for me was a bit repetitive at times.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must-read book about addiction, 24 May 2012
By 
A. Brown - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Fix (Hardcover)
At last, a book about addiction with real insight, where you get the sense that the author knows what he's talking about. Thompson argues that compulsive behaviours are creeping into every area of our lives, to damaging effect. His analyis is compelling, and he writes with tremendous wit and verve. Anyone who is interested in what's happening in society today ought to read this.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great for feeding my kindle addiction, 11 May 2013
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This review is from: The Fix (Paperback)
Reading on my kindle has become a bit of an addiction (which I'm not complaining about as it helps to displace other less noble addictions) and this book gave me the kindle buzz that I so enjoy. Seriously though, The Fix is a well-written and easy-to-read book, that gives a helpful insight not only into the more obvious addictions, but also into the way so many things in the modern world get us hooked.

Damian Thompson rightly notes that human living now offers many opportunities for addictive practices that previous generations didn't face. I'm not convinced that he is right, though, in saying that human beings have 'evolved' in such a way that they cannot cope with the things the modern world presents us with. I think it would be more accurate to say that our human nature isn't equipped for it. This is perhaps a quibble with the book but a serious point in itself.

Overall, it was a book that I benefitted from reading and I'm happy to say that it was an enjoyable read too.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Useful but not essential, 25 Sep 2012
By 
The Emperor (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Fix (Hardcover)
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This was well written but I am going to have to damn it with faint praise and say that it would have made a great newspaper article and that as a book it is quite lightweight.

It is interesting and he makes his arguments clearly and persuasively. He uses his own life as an example and also has lots of interesting anecdotes about other people as well.

However this is all quite well known territory. It is a complex subject with no easy answers but he doesn't really seem to even offer many suggestions about what can be done about it. Maybe I am slightly churlish but I would have liked this Daily Telegraph writer to have criticised mass media a bit more!

There are references but there isn't an index.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing, 7 Sep 2012
By 
J. Morris "Josh" (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Fix (Hardcover)
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250 pages of widely-margined text, 1.5 spacing between lines and chapter breaks at regular intervals - not a heavy read by any means. Thompson writes with wit about difficult subjects - finding humour with AA meetings as a topic is not easy. However an awful lot of this was nothing new, whilst it's collected here in a coherent and cohesive narrative; most of the articles and studies the text refers to are well-known by the neuroscience community. It was no shock to me to think of food as an addictive substance, nor shopping nor sex - but he seems to be trying to point out that we are all addicted to something as if it is a revolutionary idea and it is something that has only just come to the forefront. Yes, companies are getting better at tuning adverts & apps to appeal the 'addict' within us, but to assume that our 'stop' impulse (in the parlance of the book) is not getting any stronger in the meanwhile is silly.

However, for a singular book that spans multiple subjects, albeit skimming the surface, he manages to encompass nearly all aspects of addiction and what addiction consists of. Well worth a read and will cause you to check your behaviour, but ultimately, it's all been said before.
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The Fix
The Fix by Damian Thompson (Paperback - 17 Jan 2013)
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